App-based car services that dispatch drivers using their personal vehicles will have new insurance requirements, and their drivers will have to submit to background checks, under regulations that the Columbus City Council approved July 21.
The new rules will govern UberX and Lyft, which launched in Columbus this year.
Both companies use smartphone apps to connect riders with drivers who use their personal vehicles as a taxi. Customers pay for the ride using a credit card that’s registered through the app.
The two companies have been operating despite city lawsuits that sought to shut them down and objections from the local taxi and livery industries.
In April, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor issued an alert warning drivers and users of potential insurance gaps.
Columbus’ new regulations, which were approved unanimously by council members, sought to close those gaps and ensure that drivers are vetted in the same way as other city-licensed drivers.
With the new regulations, companies will have to carry $1 million liability coverage and $1 million for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and match whatever comprehensive and collision coverage a driver carries on a personal policy
Drivers also will have to pass criminal background checks and vehicle inspections by an independent third party for the companies to obtain a city-issued livery license. Councilman Zach Klein, who oversaw the legislation, said his goal “was to ensure the consumer was protected” with insurance the entire ride.
“We define what completes the trip,” said Amanda Ford, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Safety. “Insurance companies had an issue with what the end means.”
A trip ends when passengers have left the vehicle, paid for the trip and are standing on the sidewalk or private property.
The new rules take effect in 30 days, Ford said.
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)