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Insurance company Aviva now backing Uber

Last Updated Jan 28, 2016 at 10:05 am EDT

Insurance company Aviva Canada has plans to provide Uber drivers with special coverage, a move that could give comfort to users of the ride-sharing service, and one that will likely disrupt the taxi industry.

Aviva said they are responding to the growing use of ride-sharing services and the need to protect both passengers and drivers.

“When consumer needs change, we must evolve our insurance solutions to respond,” Greg Somerville, president and CEO of Aviva Canada said in a statement.

“We’re excited to offer a simple and affordable solution within a driver’s existing personal auto policy, thereby providing drivers and passengers with absolute peace of mind that they have insurance coverage while ride-sharing.”

The coverage will protect those contracted with UberX from the moment they initiate looking for passengers through to collecting and dropping off those passengers.

The coverage will become available for Ontario drivers early next month. Aviva Canada is working to expand it across the country.

Aviva said eligibility will be based on some simple underwriting criteria such as a maximum of eight passengers, having been a licensed driver for a minimum of six years, and no other commercial use, among other stipulations.

“The coverage will be available for drivers that spend up to 20 hours a week participating in ride-sharing. The cost for the additional coverage will equate to a small portion of the income earned by the driver, calculated using factors such as time spent ride-sharing, area driven and driving record,” Aviva said.

Last year, Uber said it was working with Intact Financial to create a ridesharing insurance plan. Currently, Uber notes that “every ride on the UberX platform in Canada is backed by $5,000,000 [$5 million] of contingent auto liability insurance covering bodily injury and property damage.”

Toronto, like many cities around the world, is struggling to monitor ridesharing services like Uber. There are concerns the service is skirting local bylaws by using a mobile app to charge riders.

UberX, which has regular drivers transporting people in their private cars, doesn’t have commercial licenses and therefore lack the regulation and oversight of traditional taxi companies. Taxi companies have argued that this puts passenger safety in jeopardy while simultaneously driving traditional cabbies out of business.