A large portion of rideshare drivers do not have the required insurance – but more are buying it, or seem to be more interested in it.
According to a recent survey by the Rideshare Guy, roughly one-in-five rideshare drivers have the required insurance.
A report released by NerdWallet on Monday that looks at the insurance choices of 1,022 rideshare drivers across the nation shows 77 percent have not to purchased additional rideshare coverage on top of what their rideshare company provides.
According to that survey, 40 percent of respondents say they are considering purchasing a policy in the next three months.
The Rideshare Guy survey also shows interest in purchasing insurance may be on the rise. That survey shows a roughly 10 percent increase in drivers with insurance over last year.
That survey offers a profile of these so-called gig economy drivers, how they operate, and what they think of their rideshare driving experience.
“Basically, I asked a lot of questions that had to do with the satisfaction of driving for Uber, how long drivers had been doing it,” said Harry Campbell, a rideshare expert who goes by the handle the Rideshare Guy. “Everything from income, and insurance. It really covered all of the hot topics of 2015, and what I project for 2016 to be big issues too.”
Campbell’s survey found that 21 percent of drivers reported they had rideshare insurance.
Considering there are 400,000 Uber drivers, that means that there are hundreds of thousands of drivers out there without rideshare insurance, he said.
At the end of 2015 Campbell sent out a survey to more than 10,000 of his email subscribers. He ended up with 453 responses, many from my top ridesharing markets like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and San Francisco.
His survey follows a survey in December 2015 from Uber that showed 81 percent of drivers were satisfied with working for Uber, “a number that many, including myself, were very skeptical of,” Campbell said.
Campbell’s survey found that only 48 percent of drivers were satisfied working for Uber.
Uber spokeswoman Jessica Santillo declined to comment on Campbell’s findings and noted the Uber survey was conducted by an independent organization.
The Uber survey was answered by 833 drivers, according to the ridesharing firm.
“They have 400,00 or 500,000 drivers in the U.S. They only got 800 responses?” Campbell said. “I think that that shows you that maybe they could’ve polled a few more people. My survey that was sent out to a much smaller sample size received almost as many responses as theirs.”
So why are just under half of the drivers in the Rideshare Guy survey satisfied?
Pay, of course.
Uber takes a booking fee of $1.50 to $2 depending on the city and then a 20 to 25 percent commission on each ride, and Campbell says Uber has been taking larger shares from the drivers each year.
“Fares have been cut three years in a row, every single January,” he said. “Drivers are making less than ever.”
According to a 2015 study from Uber, their drivers earn on average $19.19 per hour.
Another problem drivers have with Uber is the company doesn’t do a great job of communicating, and working with drivers to address their needs, and “really listening to drivers,” Campbell said.
One finding in the survey shows the drivers doing the majority of the work are those who work more than 20 hours per week, which could have implications for how Uber classifies its drivers, according to Campbell.
A class action lawsuit in California threatens to upend the rideshare company’s business model and cut into its more than $60 billion valuation. The suit seeks to classify drivers as workers and not contractors. It’s not the only such suit. Judges and juries around the country are being asked to decide whether Uber and Lyft drivers are really independent contractors or are employees.
The Rideshare Guy survey shows 50 percent of drivers are actually working 20 hours per week or less, but they only account for a total of 24 percent of the actual hours worked.
“They’re actually not doing much of the work,” Campbell said. “Really what that shows is that a majority of the work is being done by those full-time drivers. I think that almost goes against Uber’s argument that drivers shouldn’t be classified as employees.”
The Uber survey shows 69 percent of drivers have other full-time or part-time work outside of Uber, up from 62 percent last December.
“All drivers who partner with Uber are contractors,” Santillo said. “It’s not tied to how many hours they work.”
She also said Uber doesn’t schedule drivers to work.
“They decide when and if they work,” she said.
According to Uber’s survey, 50 percent drive fewer than 10 hours per week on average, 40 percent say when they drive depends what else is on their schedule, while only 16 percent drive a set amount of time.
That survey shows that 88 percent of those polled started driving with Uber because it fit their life well, not because it was their only option.
A take-home for Insurance Journal readers is the massive opportunity for those interested in selling rideshare insurance, Campbell said.
The insurance community has already begun stepping in to build business.
Farmers, GEICO, Mercury, Metromile, State Farm and USAA are among the major carriers that have begun offering rideshare endorsements.
“The competition has definitely encouraged a lot of these drivers to sign up for rideshare insurance,” he said.
Campbell also believes there’s opportunity for insurance agents.
According to him, the biggest challenge for drivers is figuring out how to protect themselves and how to ensure they’re staying within the state’s laws and regulations.
“Insurance is a state-by-state issue,” Campbell said. “It’s figuring out which options are available in my state. On our side it’s been a lot of work dealing with education, and getting that information to drivers.”
He added, “I think that, as far as advice for agents, the best place where they can start is educating themselves on these rideshare insurance policies. Where are the gaps in coverage? Insurance is a state-by-state issue, and it differs from state to state. In educating yourself and learning about the rideshare insurance policies, so that when you do have Uber and Lyft drivers come to you, you can be very knowledgeable and be a really good resource for them.”