Nevada officials warn about insurance in ride-sharing programs

The state’s Division of Insurance is warning the public that it could be at risk when accepting a ride with a ride-sharing company.

The Nevada Division of Insurance issued a statement recommending that people confirm that a driver has commercial car insurance before accepting a ride with drivers working for companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

San Francisco-based Uber is looking to enter the Las Vegas market and has advertised for drivers.

Uber officials did not respond to inquiries about their reaction to the state’s warning.

The state agency, which regulates the $11.7 billion insurance industry, said that motorists who drive for hire are required to have commercial liability insurance. A personal auto insurance policy will not pay for damages to a driver’s vehicle, injuries to the driver, passengers or others involved in an accident if the vehicle is being used in a commercial venture.

The statement also said insurers could cancel motorists’ personal insurance policy for misrepresentation if they use their vehicles for a commercial venture or to provide livery service.

The state agency also said traditional share-the-expense carpooling or ride-sharing in which friends, neighbors or co-workers share driving and gasoline costs are not considered commercial operations and typically are covered by individual insurance policies.

That’s how executives of companies like Uber view themselves — as friends and neighbors that introduce themselves through ridd-sharing smartphone apps.

An organization fighting Uber’s entrance in other markets across the country said Uber and Lyft aren’t properly vetting their drivers and that many of them are making illegal runs to airports.

The international Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, an organization of 1,100 transportation companies, has established a campaign called “Who’s Driving You?” to call attention to ridesharing companies that are unlicensed.

“The disdain these companies have for public safety is profound,” said campaign spokesman Dave Sutton. “Their lies are catching up to them.”

The association said unlicensed drivers have been caught operating illegally at San Francisco International Airport. Officials at the airport said two have been caught without proper driver’s licenses, two were unlicensed, five had no vehicle registration, eight had no personal auto insurance and 20 vehicles were operated by someone other than the car’s registered owner.

Ridesharing companies say on their websites that their drivers are screened before being allowed to take rides through the companies apps.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.