Questions over insurance for Uber, GrabCar

Questions over insurance for Uber, GrabCar

The taxi authorities and passengers have called for more clarity about how private hire cars used by GrabCar and Uber are insured.

They were reacting to Tuesday's announcement that the Government plans to regulate the private hire sector through the licensing of drivers and registration of vehicles. It did not mention insurance needs.

Generally, basic motor vehicle insurance policies cover third-party liability such as damage to other vehicles involved in an accident, injuries to their drivers and passengers, as well as injuries to the policyholder's passengers. They do not cover the policy holder.

However the exact level of coverage can differ between policies.

The National Taxi Association has called for standardisation of coverage for the private hire sector. Straits Times readers have also written in asking whether they are covered by insurance when they take Uber and GrabCar rides.

Mr Derek Teo, chief executive of the General Insurance Association, said: "If they are providing a service to the public, they have a responsibility to ensure that the safety of passengers is being addressed, including any possible liability."

Asked what policies they sold to Uber and GrabCar drivers or their fleet owners, insurers Aviva, AXA, Great Eastern and Prudential all declined to comment.

NTUC Income's vice-president for motor insurance Peh Chee Keong said it insures Uber and GrabCar vehicles under its private car policy.

In general, for a third-party-only policy, premiums are about $1,500 annually before any no-claims discount. Under this, passengers can make a claim against the private hire car driver's insurer, if the driver is at fault in an accident.

Mr Peh said NTUC Income offers a comprehensive policy at an annual $2,100, which offers personal accident benefits of up to $10,000 per passenger, and medical benefits of up to $300 per passenger.

He said: "Passengers who suffer from injuries as a result of a motor accident can claim personal accident benefits by writing to the insurer and attaching the relevant medical reports."

Mr Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore, said commercial insurance coverage for private hire vehicles "is subject to proof of liability and excess charges", adding: "Some drivers may choose to cover third- party only, which is commonly the case."

Mr Lim said GrabCar offers a free additional layer of coverage on top of commercial insurance for all rides through an AXA personal accident insurance policy.

He said both driver and passenger are covered in the event of accidents from the first dollar - regardless of who is at fault. In Singapore, the policy will sponsor total personal accident benefits for the driver or passenger up to US$250,000 (S$338,000) per vehicle.

Uber Singapore general manager Warren Tseng said in the event of an accident, passengers can claim against the driver's compulsory insurance. Meanwhile, both Uber and GrabCar have lowered the minimum age for drivers to 21, from 25 and 22 respectively.

This article was first published on April 15, 2016.
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