Why Picking Up Extra Money Through Ride-sharing May Not Be So Wise

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have been in the news lately, mostly because of the controversial pricing structure and clashes with the taxi industry that these companies are trying so hard to disrupt. If all of this coverage has made you think, “Hey, I want to drive strangers around for some extra cash,” that’s possible with Lyft or the lower-end UberX service. There may be a danger that you hadn’t anticipated, though.

Let’s say that–heaven forbid–you get in a car crash while driving with a paying customer. Consumer Reports’ Car Insurance Guy points out that while Lyft drivers get excess liability insurance, that insurance does not cover injuries to you (the driver) or damage to your vehicle. Paying passengers, pedestrians, other cars? Sure.

“Well, that’s what I have car insurance for!” you might point out. Yes, you have personal car insurance. Not commercial car insurance. Most insurance policies have something that’s called a “livery exception.” That means “no hauling strangers around for pay.” You can drive your friend to the bait and tackle store when she gives you gas money, but you can’t prowl around the city with your smartphone out looking for people to drive around.

If you want to drive for one of these services, you have a few choices. You could not tell your insurer, then hope that nothing goes wrong. In the case of a crash, you could instruct your passengers to pretend to be your friends, which is fraudulent and could backfire. Your other choice is to tell your insurer that you’re doing some part-time taxi driving, and pay for a more expensive commercial policy. Would that be worth it? You would have to check with your insurance company.

Don’t risk your car insurance by operating your vehicle as a part-time taxi [Consumer Reports]