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Ask a simple question, get a court order to get an answer, p. 2

We are talking about a lawsuit two taxi companies and an Uber customer filed against the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. As we said in our last post, the plaintiffs do not want money damages; they are requesting that the court order the FDHSMV to answer a question about the state's insurance requirements for for-hire passenger vehicles.

The plaintiffs are particularly interested in knowing if the regulation applies to Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies -- all direct competitors of taxi and limousine companies. If the state does not respond, the plaintiffs have asked that the court make the decision for the state.

State law requires for-hire passenger transportation vehicles to be covered by commercial auto insurance policy at all times. The plaintiffs argue that "at all times" has been interpreted to mean that the vehicles must be covered by the policy even if they are off duty or idle.

Uber does carry commercial auto insurance, but the policy only covers the vehicle while the driver is engaged in Uber business. Unlike taxi drivers, Uber drivers make their own schedules and use their own cars. When they are not carrying an Uber passenger or when they are not logged in with Uber, the drivers' personal auto policies are in effect.

The plaintiffs complain that the Uber policy is not in line with state insurance regulations. In fact, they complain that Uber's insurer is writing the policy when it technically cannot operate in Florida.

By law, every property and casualty insurance company licensed in Florida must be a member of the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association. The insurance company behind Uber's policy is not a member and, so, should not be doing business here.

The plaintiffs are hopeful that Uber will be held to the same regulatory requirements as they are. They also realize there is a risk that the state or the court will decide against them. If that happens, the taxi and limo industry promises to take the issue to the Legislature -- not to have Uber comply with existing law, but to change the laws to match Uber's policy provisions.

We'll keep an eye on the case.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Florida Judge Orders State to Clarify Uber Insurance Requirements," Amy O'Connor, Sept. 18, 2015

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