Ridesharing company Uber came in for harsh questioning following its lackluster response to the New Year's Eve involving one of its drivers that killed six-year-old Sofia Liu. Now the company has announced that it will be extending the terms of its drivers' insurance policies to include "working drivers who have not yet picked up passengers."
Is this a long in the works policy change or a PR move designed to head off controversy?
The Chronicle reported that Uber's CEO and co-founder, Travis Kalanick, said, "We will make sure the quote-unquote insurance gap is covered." That means that drivers who are logged into Uber's system and made themselves available to pick up passengers—but have not yet done so—will be covered.
According to a lawsuit filed by the family of Liu, that was the situation when driver Syed Muzaffar hit Liu, as well as her brother and mother, injuring them.
Though it took a tragedy to force action on the issue, the insurance gap had been troubling to many experts for some time. A"If you're tooling around, if your app is on, [...] the transportation network company should cover those activities," Armand Feliciano, vice president of the Association of California Insurance Companies told the Chron.
Whether lawyers for the family of Liu will use the move to try to establish the legal responsibility of Uber for the accident remains to be seen.