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Would you rather be hit by a taxi or an Uber?

An Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
An Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.

Last spring, an Uber heading north in Seattle hit another car so hard it was cut in half

That brings us to today's KUOW listener question: Who has more insurance coverage to handle your medical bills in case of a crash — an Uber driver or a taxi driver? 

KUOW listener Jennifer Weitman wondered this while stuck in traffic with her partner on Interstate 5. She guessed the taxi driver would have more insurance coverage “just because it seems like they are more regulated.”

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I asked some KUOW coworkers what they thought. We guessed the taxi would be better insured, too.    

Turns out we're wrong, according to Mike Kreidler, Washington State Insurance commissioner. If insurance were the primary concern, “I'd probably take the Uber,” Kreidler said. 

That's because their drivers are insured for up to $1 million in liability coverage per accident, whereas taxis are required to have only $300,000 in coverage. 

But there's a twist in this story. What if you get hit by a professional driver when you're out for a walk?  Kriedler said, in that case, he might prefer to be hit by a taxi. 

That's because if an Uber driver is looking at the Uber app and waiting for business (and does not have a passenger locked in yet), the insurance liability requirement at that moment is $100,000 per accident. 

In the case of taxi drivers, their insurance is the same at all times ($300,000 per accident).  

However! If an Uber driver hits a pedestrian while carrying a passenger or en route to pick up a passenger, they still have that $1 million to cover bodily injury.

But, Kriedler adds, he'd much rather not be hit by a car at all.  


Year started with KUOW: 2004