Yesterday, without warning or other advance notification, Rich Brunelle, the President of the US RIDE-HAIL DRIVER’S ASSOCIATION was deactivated from Uber’s driver’s application. The deactivation email from Uber says that the reason was Brunelle’s failure to drive during the past 30 days. In the past drivers have been warned in advance of their possible deactivation in advance of such occurrence.
Brunelle agrees that it has been over 30 days since his last trip with Uber, but advises the problem is not his not wanting to drive, but an inability to acquire adequate insurance within his available budget. Currently the only insurance provider to offer insurance adequate to cover UberX drivers, is Farmers Insurance. A policy from Farmers will cost Rich Brunelle approximately $700.00 more than his old personal insurance policy annually, and with the poor compensation being provided by Uber Rich Brunelle simply is unable to afford the Farmers policy.
The claim that the driver’s personal policy coupled with Uber’s commercial policy and the additional Gap insurance is adequate insurance for UberX drivers is ridiculous and intentional negligence by both Uber and our Government for allowing this to continue. Since Rich Brunelle’s personal policy expired a short time ago Rich has been attempting to acquire a new insurance provider. All of the insurance providers including his prior provider have declined to insure him as he is driving for Uber and their insurance policies specifically preclude “cars-for-hire” from their coverage. The only insurance provider that does offer a true “Ride-Hail” policy for California is Farmers Insurance. Any use of a driver’s personal auto insurance policy is probably in violation of the driver’s policy constraints.
Uber is aware of Brunelle’s need to acquire new insurance coverage as they have pulled his vehicle from usage at the expiration of his previous policy preventing him from use of the Uber Driver Application until such time as he acquires new insurance coverage. Uber’s deactivation of Brunelle from the Uber App only serves as a means of making Brunelle subject to being a new hire making Brunelle subject to being forced to accept Uber charging up to 35% payment to Uber for use of the App. Brunelle was hired over a year ago at the 20% rate split with Uber. and Brunelle has maintained a 4.8 or above driver rating throughout the past year.
Rich Brunelle responded to Uber’s deactivation notice promptly, which as the notification was sent out to Brunelle Friday afternoon, leaves little hope that his response will be read by anyone of consequence at Uber prior to Monday, if at all. Uber is a very poorly managed company with workers rarely ever having contact with anyone actually a Uber employee unless it is a serious situation. To date Brunelle’s interactions with Uber has been via Uber Support which are also Independent Contractors working for Uber. Almost every interaction with Uber Support is by these Independent Contractors response to the drivers by use of “canned” responses built into their “Help Desk” program. Rarely do drivers actually receive responses that provide resolution to situations as Uber Support does not have the authority to provide actual resolve to anything, they just simply “cut-n-paste” the selected response to the drivers issue and return the email to the driver. Many drivers work with Uber for a very long time before discovery that Uber Support is not actually Uber responding to them, but just another Independent Contractor helping Uber avoid taking responsibility for anything Uber related. As Uber Drivers can be subjected to misguidance and even termination by the Support system, it seems like UIber Support is an intentional negligence built into the Uber management way of conducting business.
As noted above, Uber’s Support provided the anticipated “canned response” to Rich Brunelle’s message regarding his deactivation. Nobody addressed the actual issue regarding the inability to acquire adequate insurance, nobody even responded to anything written in the message from Brunelle to Uber. They simply sent a return response to Brunelle that in essence says, “too bad driver, you are deactivated, see ya!” No resolve to the insurance concern what-so-ever was given. This may not seem a serious issue to anyone but the truth be told, this issue should be the most serious issue for the drivers, the riders, and government. The State of California is allowing thousands of UberX Drivers to transport riders without adequate insurance and nobody is taking corrective action to fix it. Rich Brunelle has been trying to acquire a new insurance provider and has received the same response from most of the insurance providers contacted. Most drivers operate by use of a personal insurance policy while not advising the insurance provider of the commercial use of the vehicle. There are many discussions regarding the inappropriate and/or unlawful use of insurance coverage in this situation:
——————- The following from: http://rafraser.com/smartphone-enabled-ridesharing
Thousands of UberX drivers are stuck with this dilemma. To drive for Uber they do not tell their insurance provider that they are driving for Uber which may actually be insurance fraud, There currently is only one insurance provider in the State of California that offers a true TNC Driver policy and that is Farmers Insurance. Farmers Insurance is not the cheapest insurance provider around and with the rates Uber is paying drivers, cheap is a necessity. The facts are, Uber Drivers should be regulated by the government to be required to carry a commercial insurance policy just like Taxis and Limousines for the protection of all concerned. At this very moment, there are thousands of UberX drivers transporting millions of Uber Riders everywhere in this nation that are using their personal insurance that will be likely denied future coverage should their insurance provider discover the drivers are working with Uber.
Rich Brunelle and many more drivers are caught up in this situation, trying to obtain adequate insurance when the company does not provide adequate income to buy the only real option for insurance available. This is not a driver problem, but a Uber problem that needs government regulation for the protection of the public. It should not take 50 miles of “red tape” and a whole lot of conversation with anyone to fix this, but it likely will. In the interim, at least one driver that cares about being properly insured is off the road, for now. As Rich Brunelle is the President of the US RIDE-HAIL DRIVER’S ASSOCIATION, his Uber Deactivation may present issues with him serving the Association. But, that may be why Uber failed to warn him of the potential deactivation in the first place.