“Ride-hailing insurance” for UberX being purchased by no one

 

March 30, 2016 (Toronto) – Just because an insurance product exists does not mean anybody is buying it, taxi industry leaders told the province of Ontario today.

Gail Souter, president of the Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) and Marc Andre Way, president of the Canadian Taxi Association (CTA)  sent a joint letter to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), which regulates automobile insurance, calling upon it to require insurers to report on the number of “ride hailing” policies sold to UberX drivers acting as unlicensed taxi drivers.

“We are well aware from industry conversations that a miniscule number of unlicensed drivers will purchase these products, if in fact any ever do. They have managed to drive passengers for compensation for months or years without notifying their insurance companies, and they have no plan to change their behaviour now,” Souter says.

“For example, on March 19th in downtown Toronto, an UberX driver was involved in a serious accident. The driver had to be cut from the car, and he and 3 passengers were transported to hospital. Was this driver covered by any required insurance endorsement? Does anyone know?” she asks.

“Licensed taxi drivers are not only required to pay for commercial insurance, they must present proof of insurance to maintain their license. UberX drivers should be required to do exactly the same thing; otherwise, this entire special ‘ride hailing endorsement’ is simply smoke and mirrors.”

Driving.ca magazine recently noted, “(T)he majority…would rather risk exposure to possible lawsuits and damages than a guaranteed bump in their rates.”

For this reason, the TTA and the CTA wrote FSCO asking it to protect the public through the following actions:

  • That insurance firms selling ride-hailing endorsements be required to report to FSCO the number of such endorsements actually sold, and detail for FSCO how they are monitoring the fact that drivers are only driving the 10 or 20 hours per week for which they are insured.
  • That this information be shared with municipalities. Release of information on the actual number of endorsements purchased will give politicians more accurate information on which to base their debates and decisions.

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TTA, CTA ask: Has ANYONE bought the new ride-hailing insurance?

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Gail Souter, President

Toronto Taxi Alliance

#1 Credit Union Drive

Toronto, ON 

Marc Andre Way, President

Canadian Taxicab Association

455 Coventry Rd.

Ottawa, ON

 

Mr. Tom Golfetto, Director

Automobile Insurance Division

Financial Services Commission of Ontario

5160 Yonge Street
P.O. Box 85
Toronto, Ontario, M2N 6L9

 

March 30, 2016

Dear Mr. Golfetto,

We are writing today in regards to recent developments in new insurance products for sale to unlicensed taxi companies such as UberX and other ride-hailing companies.

We in the legal, regulated taxi industry have grave concerns about the erroneous perception in the media and among elected officials that unlicensed bandit taxi drivers will all now proceed to purchase these endorsements, and that the ride-hailing insurance issue has now been satisfactorily settled.

In fact, we are well aware from industry conversations that a miniscule number of unlicensed drivers will purchase these products, if in fact any ever do. They have managed to drive passengers for compensation for months or years without notifying their insurance companies, and they have no plan to change their behaviour now.

For example, on March 19th in downtown Toronto, an Uber driver was involved in a serious accident. The driver had to be cut from the car, and he and 3 passengers were transported to hospital. Was this driver covered by any required insurance endorsement? Does anyone know?

In fact, Drive Magazine notes, “I’m guessing the majority…would rather risk exposure to possible lawsuits and damages than a guaranteed bump in their rates.”

Further, Uber confuses this situation tremendously in its recruitment materials by telling drivers they only need to provide their personal policy information.

For this reason, the Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) and the Canadian Taxicab Association (CTA) are writing you today to ask the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to protect the public through the following actions:

  • That insurance firms selling ride-hailing endorsements be required to report to FSCO the number of such endorsements actually sold, and detail for FSCO how they are monitoring the fact that drivers are only driving the 10 or 20 hours per week for which they are insured.
  • That this information be shared with municipalities. Release of information on the actual number of endorsements purchased will give politicians more accurate information on which to base their debates and decisions.

We trust you will agree that everyone – consumers, service providers, elected officials and the insurance industry itself – will be well and fairly served with the release of the above information.

Additionally, we request that FSCO investigate the misleading representations Uber has made to the public in the media and to their UberX drivers concerning its insurance shortfall and in particular, its failure to clearly inform drivers that Uber's Non Owned Automobile insurance does not address the paying passenger exclusion and which we believe constitutes an unfair and deceptive business practice.

From Uber’s website FAQ:

“INSURANCE

All drivers are required to carry valid personal auto insurance, which will be your primary coverage. Every ride on the UberX platform is backed by $5,000,000 of contingent coverage for bodily injury and property damage to third parties. This means that if, in the event of an accident, your own personal insurance is exhausted or does not apply for any reason, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, and the community at large can rest assured knowing that ridesharing partners remain covered by a robust first-class policy.”

 

We appreciate your attention to this matter.  Please do not hesitate to contact either of us if you have any questions.

Yours very truly,

 

 

Gail Souter, President                                Marc Andre Way, President

Toronto Taxi Alliance                             Canadian Taxicab Association

 

Regulations are for passenger safety, not driver convenience

Ian Black's March 29 press conference claiming Uber requires "different" regulations contained the most selfish and self-serving comment we have ever heard uttered. 
The point is not really what is easy, or convenient or acceptable to UberX driver or Uber, corporately. 
Taxi regulations have been developed over decades for the purpose of ensuing passenger safety and consumer protection - it has never been about what is convenient for drivers. Regulations evolved to protect the most valuable cargo: vulnerable passengers. 
If these regulations are inconvenient for drivers who only drive 5 or 10 hours per week, they should give up driving for money and leave the work to the professionals who are prepared to endure the inconvenience for the privilege of working as a licensed taxi driver. 
After Kalamazoo, it is beyond incredible that Uber is still pushing the idea that weaker regulations which are more "convenient" for part-time drivers are a good idea. Michigan media report that Jason Walton had 7 tickets for moving violations and Uber's background check did not catch them. Tell us again why Uber deserves its own special set of regulations? 

WHY IS A TORONTO TAXPAYER BRINGING THIS INJUNCTION?

BACKGROUND

WHY IS A TORONTO TAXPAYER BRINGING THIS INJUNCTION?

On November 18, 2014, the City of Toronto brought an application for an injunction to stop Uber from operating its UberX platform in Toronto. At a press conference announcing the application, Tracey Cook, the executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards Division, the agency responsible for the enforcement of the City’s licensing bylaws, stated:

Uber has been operating since 2012 without a proper taxi brokerage license or a limousine brokerage license and since September of 2014 have been recruiting unlicensed drivers with unlicensed vehicles to provide taxi services

Uber’s unregulated status puts people in harm’s way due to unregulated fares resulting in alleged price gouging, inadequate insurance, increased safety risk to the drivers due to lack of training.

In her sworn affidavit filed in support of the City’s application, Cook also made the following statements:

…Uber is operating in flagrant disregard of the City's licensing regime, even while it aggressively promotes and expands its services and continues to recruit drivers.

…the longer that Uber continues to operate in the City, the greater the potential for damage to the taxi and limousine industries … the City has an interest in the long-term sustainability of the industry because it is an important part of the public transportation network.

I am also concerned about Uber vehicles increasing congestion in Toronto and particularly, the downtown core, which is a key consideration the City makes when determining the appropriate number of taxicabs. It is important to the economic and environmental well-being of the City and beneficial to public health for the City to reduce vehicular traffic when possible; increasing the number of vehicles operating as taxis and limousines will do the opposite.

Therefore, for the protection of public safety, consumers, and the economic and environmental well-being of Toronto, the City is seeking clear direction that Uber must cease its operations immediately. It is important to the City and to the public that the issues raised in this application be determined quickly, on an urgent basis.

The City’s 2014 injunction application failed because the Court found that narrow definitions of Taxicab Broker and Limousine Service Company in the Municipal Code, which focused on the acceptance of a communication from a prospective passenger of taxi or limousine services  , did not capture the activities carried on by Uber

Following this decision, the City amended these definitions in the Code to clearly capture Uber’s activities.

Yet, Uber continues to knowingly break the law, but now it is doing so with 15,000-20,000 primarily non-licensed taxicabs instead of an estimated 6000 in 2014. The traffic congestion in Toronto, particularly in the downtown core, has increased exponentially as has the harm to the economic and environmental well-being of the City.

The potential for damage to the taxi and limousine industries that existed in 2014 has become a stark reality that threatens the long-term sustainability of an industry that in Ms. Cook’s words, is an important part of the City’s public transportation network.

In 2014, the City asked the Court to act on an urgent basis to direct Uber to cease its unlicensed operations immediately for the protection of public safety, consumers, and the economic and environmental well-being of Toronto.

Yet today, despite the greater harm being caused to the citizens of Toronto by Uber’s  illegal activities, the City, due to the efforts of Mayor Tory. has refused to take any meaningful action to prevent that harm, by enforcing  a bylaw that it recently amended specifically for that purpose.

It is for this reason that exercising his right as a taxpayer under the City of Toronto Act, the Applicant, a licensed taxicab driver, is today doing what Mayor Tory should have done months ago, namely asking the Court to order that Uber cease its illegal operations immediately.    

 

INJUNCTION APPLICATION FILED TO STOP UBER X FROM OPERATING IN TORONTO

Action Comes After Mayor John Tory Delays Injunction Request

TORONTO (March 14, 2016) – An application for an injunction was filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by a City of Toronto taxpayer, who is also a taxicab driver. The applicant is seeking an order restraining and preventing all UberX drivers from continuing to provide taxicab services for UberX in Toronto.

The legal basis for the injunction is that under the City of Toronto Act, a taxpayer may bring an application to the Court seeking an order restraining someone from conducting activities that contravene Toronto’s bylaws.

A similar process was followed in Calgary where the injunction was granted.

In October 2015, Toronto’s bylaws were amended and clearly state that only someone licensed as a taxicab driver may operate a taxicab in Toronto.  Under the recently amended bylaw, UberX drivers are considered taxicab drivers, but do not have the license required to legally operate a taxicab in Toronto as required by the bylaw. The law prohibits:

  • Drivers from driving passenger motor vehicles for hire in Toronto unless they are licensed by the City as a taxicab or limousine driver;
  • Drivers from driving passenger motor vehicles for hire in Toronto unless the owner of the vehicle is licensed by the City as a taxicab or limousine owner; and
  • Owners of vehicles from allowing people to drive their vehicles for hire in Toronto unless the driver is licensed by the City as a taxicab or limousine driver

Sutts, Strosberg LLP represents the Applicant.

“Toronto’s bylaws are very clear: only someone licensed as a taxicab driver may operate a vehicle for hire in the City,” said Jay Strosberg, co-Managing Partner, Sutts, Strosberg LLP.  “The bylaw was specifically changed to capture this conduct, yet Mayor Tory has decided to ignore Toronto’s own bylaw. Why bother changing the law unless you are going to enforce it?”

Mr. Strosberg is “baffled” by the City’s decision to permit UberX to continue to operate as a taxi service without proper licensing and oversight.

“Taxi drivers, as taxpayers, have no choice but to file this injunction because Mayor Tory will not,” said Mr. Strosberg. “The fact that this is a recent amendment makes it all the more egregious. The enforcement of law should not be a matter of politics.  Mayor Tory is sending the message that lawlessness is acceptable.”

For the purposes of consumer protection, the City’s licensing protocol contained in Municipal Code Chapter 545-1, Licensing requires that, among other things:

  • taxicab and limousine drivers complete a training course;
  • vehicles used as taxicabs or limousines pass mechanical inspection and be equipped with certain safety equipment;
  • vehicle owners have comprehensive insurance policies (with minimum coverage of $2,000,000) and have deposited a copy of their certificates of insurance with the City; and
  • the fares or rates charged for taxicab or limousine rides are in accordance with a fee schedule established by the City

The application and injunction therefore seeks an order declaring that all UberX drivers in Toronto are breaching the bylaw and also ordering that UberX drivers be prevented from continuing to operate without the required licenses.

#

Media Contact for Jay Strosberg, Sutts Strosberg LLP 

Aerial Communications Group

Naomi Strasser

416.787.6577

naomi@aerialpr.com

Backgrounder: Why is a taxpayer bringing this injunction request? 

Uber=Taxi; regulations must be identical

identical arlene marlene

Identical twins Alexander and Daniel Geremia attended the TTA event at City Hall on February 26th to help illustrate the idea, "Regulations for Uber and Taxi must be IDENTICAL." Their mom Marlene and her sister Arlene are identical twins as well.

 

February 26, 2016 (TORONTO) – The Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) says their members will be more than capable of competing with Uber so long as regulations for Taxi and Uber are identical.

“Several TTA members attended ‘stakeholder’ meetings held in February by MLS, ostensibly to provide input to the ground transportation report as it is being written,” says TTA spokesperson Asafo Addai, who will visit Toronto City Hall today to deliver the TTA’s submission before the February 29th deadline. The report is expected on April 7th.

“These meetings were designed to spend many hours in discussion over such topics as ‘Should the City set meter rates?’ and ‘Should we have roof lights and security camera?’” says Addai.

identical cookies

The TTA's submission to the new ground transportation regulations process is so short, you could frost it on a cookie: Uber=Taxi. Regs must be identical. No open entry.

 

“Until we know that Taxis and Uber vehicles will be treated identically the same, there is no point in musing these details. We have no frame of reference for discussing any of these items, whether they are related to safety – like vehicle inspections and driver training – or whether they are related to commerce, like meter rates and license fees.

“Should taxis have snow tires and security cameras, with meter rates set by the City? If Uber’s going to have exactly the same requirements, sure. If Uber gets a pass on all of these things, it’s a totally different story. These stakeholder meetings put the cart before the horse by focusing on details without disclosing whether we’re talking about one system, or two."

identical asafo

TTA Committee member Asafo Addai has worked tirelessly in attempting to communicate the damage Uber has done to Toronto's legal taxi industry. Addai was one of the hunger strikers who slept outside City Hall for 3 nights last winter.

TTA members could not:

  • get a guarantee there would be no new and separate transportation category recommended in the report;
  • get any assurance that Uber and Taxi would be treated identically the same;
  • persuade staff to share their definition of the term ‘equitable’ treatment as used in the direction from Council on September 30.

 

Therefore, the Toronto Taxi Alliance’s submission to the ground transportation review can be covered by these three points:

  • Uber=Taxi

Uber, UberX and all of Uber’s entities must be regulated as taxi companies.

 

  • Regulations for Uber, UberX and Taxi services must be identical

There cannot be two sets of regulations in Toronto, one which applies to Uber and other so-called “ride sharing” companies and different set of regulations which apply to taxi companies.

There needs to be ONE set of regulations which applies to ground transportation companies carrying passengers for compensation. These entities must be governed identically by these regulations.

 

  • No open entry

Open entry means anyone with a car can provide ground transportation services, with no requirement for a license to operate and no cap on the number of vehicles providing transportation service.

Open entry has never been right for the City of Toronto and it will not work now.

In 2014, MLS indicated Toronto has the correct number of licensed vehicles on the road. With Uber, Toronto has 20,000 more. This is not working for Toronto.

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