Uber works out how to insure its drivers between fares

Uber has inked a deal with insurer Metromile that addresses a huge question mark: whether its drivers are sufficiently insured between fares. Until now, the ridesharing firm has been giving US drivers $1 million in commercial liability coverage when they actually had a passenger in the car. But when they were heading to pick up the next ride or driving for personal use, the situation was dicier. Uber only requires that drivers use private insurance between fares, but many companies, including Allstate, Geico and State Farm, often flat-out refuse to cover ridesharing vehicles. Uber does insure drivers between fares if private companies won't pay, but limits injury liability to a paltry $50,000 for victims outside the car.

The new deal with Metromile fills that gap by offering pay-per-mile coverage for drivers when they don't have customers. To use it, drivers plug a Metromile-assigned dongle into their car's ODB-II port, letting the insurer track personal versus commercial miles and charge accordingly. Metromile offers full coverage during those periods and says many drivers may even save money, assuming they don't use their vehicles excessively off the clock. All that said, Uber drivers won't be forced to take the coverage, and have other options including Farmer's Insurance.

Uber and Metromile needed to convince state regulars to accept the deal, and so far, three are on board: Illinois, Washington and California. The latter state recently declared that it would force Uber drivers to purchase commercial insurance, but has now backed off. The new deal addresses a lot of Uber concerns around insurance, but there's no word yet on whether Metromile will sign other car services to the same terms.

[Image credit: Getty Images]