UberX Is Killing Cab Industry, Drivers Say
"UberX has regular passenger insurance, taking 20 percent from the driver," Condie says. "But they basically tell drivers not to get insurance, to put it on your personal insurance. But you can't put others on your insurance."
A Chicago-based cabdriver working with Uber, who goes only by the name Joe, tells New Times that Uber held a meeting of taxi drivers in his area several weeks ago. At this meeting, they told drivers that the company does not allow commercial insurance. "I'm sitting in this meeting and they're saying this to us, and I couldn't believe it," Joe says.
The UberX rep at the meeting was peppered with questions about insurance. The drivers, Joe says, were told they would receive more information about it via email. That email has yet to arrive, Joe claims.
Joe's concern is that UberX is opening the door for non-taxi drivers to start giving people lifts around the city for money without proper regulation.
"It's decimating the cab industry," he says. "They're bringing in regular people and telling them to operate as cabbies and not providing them with insurance."
The bottom line is, commercial insurance is expensive. In some states, it can cost a cabbie up to $5,000.
"It basically fucks up their business plans," Joe says. "But if you have a passenger and he gets injured in an accident, where do they file a claim?"
For rideshare companies like UberX, Lyft, and others, there are obvious advantages to having no regulation -- for both the driver and the passenger, it's cheap. And because there is no overhead, a company like Uber has flourished with its UberX service. And Florida could be next.
"The main problem with this industry is communication," Condie says. "I have no problem with rideshare entering our market, but it has to be regulated."
Condie says another app, called MyTaxi, which has been successful in Europe and recently entered the D.C. and Miami markets, is charging drivers only 2.6 percent and $1 per ride. Uber, Condie says, is charging drivers 20 percent for the same technology while not kicking a single cent back to local government, regulators, or the State of Florida.
And avoiding regulations.
For her part, Condie has sent a letter to the Florida Department of Insurance.
"Operators such as Lyft/sidecar/UberX are preying on the nation's dysfunctional taxi system and the fact that city/county/state governments AND insurance regulators are not in sync with each other and have no clue what is going on," her letter says. "The risk of exposure of private insurance is so great due to fraud/abuse it can be market destabilizing."
The bill going through the Florida Legislature to get Uber into the Sunshine State recently passed its first committee.
Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.