Wednesday, July 23, 2014

State warns users about liability with Lyft smartphone app

By The Herald Staff | 5/23/2014

TOPEKA — Better think twice before offering a ride.

With the introduction into Kansas City of Lyft — a ride-sharing service made possible through a smartphone app — state officials are concerned users might not be aware of the insurance implications of the service. And what they don’t know could be costly, Sandy Praeger said.

TOPEKA — Better think twice before offering a ride.

With the introduction into Kansas City of Lyft — a ride-sharing service made possible through a smartphone app — state officials are concerned users might not be aware of the insurance implications of the service. And what they don’t know could be costly, Sandy Praeger said.

Praeger, Kansas insurance commissioner, this week urged Kansans to check with their insurance companies to clarify coverage regarding Lyft and other ride-sharing services that offer transportation agreements between individual, non-commercial drivers. Lyft began operating in the Kansas City Metro area in April, prompting concerns among local transportation and insurance officials about who would be responsible for coverage in the event of a wreck or other driving incident.

“We at the Kansas Insurance Department are encouraging consumers to review their coverage with agents or companies before agreeing to the ride-sharing arrangements,” Praeger said. “It’s important that consumers understand what their policies cover, and, if they are using their own vehicles this way, that the arrangement doesn’t jeopardize the renewability of their insurance coverage.”

Lyft already has found itself in legal battles in St. Louis and Kansas City, as well as Albuquerque, New Mexico, according to media reports. Opposition to the service includes concerns that the service is effectively working as a taxi without clearing city taxi regulations.

While Lyft does not directly list any Kansas cities in its service, its map of service includes Johnson and Wyndotte counties for its Kansas City, Missouri, service, according to Praeger’s office.

Kansas consumers who have insurance questions can call the insurance office’s Consumer Assistance Division at (800) 432-2484, Praeger said.

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