California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Monday approved the state’s first auto insurance policy specifically for Lyft drivers who have a passenger in the car.
The policy, from MetLife Auto & Home insurance, is not the first approved in California for drivers working for Uber or Lyft — Farmers and Metromile have their own offerings — but it is the first to also cover drivers who have already accepted or picked up a passenger, a period that previously was covered only by the ride-hailing company.
MetLife’s policy, designed in collaboration with Lyft, would cover drivers over every stage of their trip.
In doing so, it seems designed to reduce confusion among drivers about how they’re covered during what various stakeholders call Period 1.
That’s the interval of time in which drivers have their app open and are available to be matched with a customer, but have yet to accept the fare. An insurance gap during Period 1 came to light after the death of 6-year-old Sofia Liu, who was hit by an UberX driver on New Year’s Eve 2013. Uber said its $1 million insurance policy, required by the state, did not cover the accident because the driver was not on his way to or transporting a passenger.
Metlife’s policy was first rolled out in Colorado in January, but was only approved to take effect in California starting this week.
Lyft already offers a $1 million liability policy that takes effect when the driver accepts a ride from a passenger until the end of that ride, as well as a $100,000 contingent policy for Period 1. That policy only takes effect if the driver’s personal insurance policy won’t cover an accident in those circumstances.
New California legislation requires drivers to be insured at all times when driving for a ride-hailing company. The insurance can be provided by the company, the driver or by a combination of the two.