UberX driver says he will take legal action against company after major crash

WATCH ABOVE: A former UberX driver is taking legal action after his insurance company rejected his accident claim and Uber isn’t stepping in to provide back-up coverage. Caryn Lieberman has the story.

TORONTO — A former UberX driver is suing the ride-sharing company, after a major car accident in June left him with chronic pain, without a vehicle, and in major debt.

“I believe thousands of people are driving Uber here and they don’t know — in case god forbid anything happens to them — how exposed they are to the vulnerability,” said Tawfiq Alam.

He was driving a passenger home along Queen Street East when a motorist ran a red light crashing into his Toyota Sienna. Both Alam and his passenger were rushed to hospital. When Alam called his insurance shortly after, his claim was denied because he had not disclosed that he would be using his vehicle for commercial purposes.

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Major damage to UberX driver’s Toyota Sienna following crash in June 2015
Major damage to UberX driver’s Toyota Sienna following crash in June 2015.

“It’s attractive for people to think they could make a buck off something,” said Steve Kee from the Insurance Board of Canada.

“But before you do that — your policies are set for certain limits so you should check with that insurance rep to find out what would happen if something horribly went wrong.”

And that’s exactly what happened to Tawfiq Alam. He admits he had not read the fine print and believed his basic auto insurance was sufficient.

Still, he was confident Uber could help with coverage, because he said he specifically asked the company when he signed up to become a driver about insurance protection.

“They said we are billion dollar company, we have $5 million dollars or so in insurance protection so you don’t have to worry about that, in case you get ticket or accident you just come to us and we take care of the issue,” he recalls.

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Alam’s lawyer, Isaac Zisckind of Diamond & Diamond, said it is the first time he is dealing with an Uber claim, but suspects there are many drivers who are as unaware as his client of the limits of their basic auto coverage and whether or not Uber will step in to help.

“When you go to Uber they don’t mention that. You don’t sign anything,” says Zisckind.

“He was being told he would be covered and he assumed he was.”

We reached out to Uber for comment and spokesperson Susie Heath said: “While I can’t share specifics on a particular incident, I can tell you that all uberX rides are insured with liability coverage. Our insurer reviews these claims and we are committed to helping drivers understand the resolution process.”

Alam’s lawyer is now in the process of drafting a claim to sue Uber for at least $1 million in damages and lost income.

Alam wants other drivers to learn from his mistakes, which he said have cost him everything.