July 27, 2015 6:49 pm
Updated: July 27, 2015 10:22 pm

Province warns Albertans about using ride-sharing services such as Uber

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WATCH ABOVE: The government is issuing a warning to those using Uber or other ride-sharing services because of insurance issues. Jessica Kent explains.

EDMONTON — The province is urging people who use ride-sharing services to know their risks before taking a ride.

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Alberta’s Superintendent of Insurance Mark Prefontaine issued an advisory notice Monday, warning Albertans they may not have access to insurance protection and accident benefits if they’re involved in an accident while use ride-sharing services like Uber. This includes drivers and passengers.

A recent review of Uber’s insurance policies found “significant issues” with regulatory compliance. According to Prefontaine, Uber’s supplemental insurance policies do not meet the requirements of Alberta’s Insurance Act and regulations.

Owners and drivers of the vehicles are at risk of having limited or no third-party liability coverage to pay for a potential legal claim if the driver is responsible for a collision that injuries a passenger, pedestrian or any other third party. They also may not have coverage to fix vehicle damage.

Passengers involved in an accident while in a ride-sharing vehicle may not be compensated for injuries because of the owner’s and driver’s lack of third party coverage.

“My understanding is that Uber depends on the driver’s personal insurance, but in many cases these policies have an exemption that allows the insurer to deny a claim in the event that a vehicle is being used for a commercial purpose, in which case there is not coverage,” said Transportation Minister Brian Mason. “That is a serious concern.

“The top priority for the government, of course, is public safety.”

READ MORE: Uber is forcing Canadian cities to re-evaluate the way we take cabs

The province urges anyone who uses ride-sharing services to ask drivers for proof of commercial insurance coverage before getting in the vehicle.

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for Uber Canada said the company is working with regulators and insurers in Alberta to discuss how auto insurance models account for services like Uber.

“The bottom line is this: every ride on Uber is insured,” said Xavier Van Chau.” We look forward to continuing our conversation with governments in Alberta to find long-term solutions to enhance public safety and offer more affordable transportation options.”

Uber and other ride-sharing services offer passengers rides through online apps.

Licensing and safety concerns have been hot topics surrounding Uber since it launched in Edmonton in December 2014.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton versus Uber: the debate heats up in court

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the City of Edmonton said it shares the concerns presented by the province.

“We continue to work on bylaw amendments with potential to allow safe, properly insured ride share companies to operate in Edmonton,” said Nancy Domijan, acting branch manager of Current Planning with the City of Edmonton.

The office of the superintendent of insurance said it is committed to working with Uber so it can safely and legally operate in Alberta.

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