Uber and under
On September 17, 2016, while driving for Uber, Lisa Jean was involved in a motor vehicle accident when a vehicle driven by Ty Cao pulled out from a parking spot and struck her vehicle. After settling her claims against Cao through his insurer for the policy limits, Jean filed a claim for underinsured motorist benefits (UIM) under a policy provided by James River Insurance Company. James River denied the claim, asserting that the UIM benefits had been waived by the insured, Raiser, LLC, a subsidiary of Uber.
Jean filed a petition for damages, asserting that under state law the James River policy must provide UIM coverage and that, pursuant to another state law, Uber could not waive UIM coverage. Subsequently, both Jean and James River submitted motions for summary judgment to ascertain whether state law permitted transportation network companies like Uber to waive the UIM coverage. The court ruled that the statute allowed transportation companies to waive underinsured motorist coverage. The court granted James River’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Jean’s claims with prejudice. Jean appealed.
On appeal, the court noted that the relevant statute requires a transportation network company driver or a transportation network company on the driver’s behalf to maintain primary automobile insurance during the pre-trip acceptance period that must include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to the extent required by law. The court added, however, that the statute states that the required UM and UIM coverages are not applicable when any insured named in the policy rejects coverage, selects lower limits, or selects economic-only coverage.
Under the statute, the court said, Uber was permitted to waive underinsured motorist coverage. The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment granting summary judgment in favor of James River.
Jean v. James River Insurance Company—Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit—May 29, 2019—No. 2019-CA-0041.