The Ohio House of Representatives has passed House Bill 237, which establishes uniform insurance requirements for Ohio’s transportation network companies (TNCs) and self-employed drivers.
As transportation network companies become more widely utilized, it is evident that changes are needed to Ohio’s decades-old regulatory code to ensure that drivers and passengers are protected from additional risk. HB 237, sponsored by Reps. Bob Hackett (R-London) and Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), addresses certain gaps that exist in the way TNCs (think Uber and Lyft) are insured and regulated.
“In the past several years, Ohioans have come to enjoy the convenience and responsiveness of services like Uber and Lyft,” Duffey said. “HB 237 allows these services to grow and become even more available while at the same time ensuring uniform insurance coverage and safety standards.”
Typically, TNCs cover their drivers with commercial insurance during times when they are going to pick up a customer and when the customer is in the vehicle. However, they often do not cover drivers leading up to that point, when they are logged into the application, but have not yet accepted a customer. This is potentially problematic because it allows TNC drivers to drive uninsured while performing a commercial activity.
“With the rapidly expanding availability of Uber and Lyft, comes an increase in risk for transportation network drivers, their passengers and Ohioans in general,” Hackett said. “H.B. 237 protects Ohioans from avoidable risks while ensuring innovative businesses such as Uber and Lyft are able to thrive in Ohio.”
HB 237 establishes two phases of insurance coverage: 1.) the time before a passenger requests a ride; and 2.) when a passenger is connected to a driver or in the vehicle.
Additionally, the legislation requires TNCs to:
- Apply to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for a permit to operate
- Perform background checks on their drivers
- Disclose how fares are calculated, including trip estimates and e-receipts
- Comply with state, local and TNC anti-discrimination policies
A committee amendment added further disclosure requirements in certain situations, including following an accident in order to allow insurance companies to determine coverage. The amendment also requires that the insurance coverage required by TNCs meets an “A” rating by independent rating agencies.
The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate.