Uber's Injury Protection Plan: A Valuable Work Benefit for its Drivers?


(Bick Bhangoo) #1

"Get peace of mind while you drive."

This is the catchphrase or value proposition that Uber uses to sell its injury protection insurance plan to its drivers. Since the insurance policy's announcement in May this year, there have been some chitchat in the media, a heated discussion about whether the injury protection policy is favorable to its intended beneficiaries (Uber drivers) or it is just an Uber's way of maximizing its revenue.

Some driver-partners have greeted the news as a welcoming development, while some labor groups have not. For the latter, the program is just another evidence of how Uber undervalues its workers. "Instead of paying workers' compensation premiums to cover all of its workers, as responsible businesses do," Rebecca Smith, the Director of National Employment Law Project (NELP) criticized the company's policy in an email. "Uber will charge drivers for the medical care and time-loss benefits that the rest of us get by virtue of working at a job…"

I know… everyone is entitled to his or her opinions. For me, I think the injury protection program has tremendous value for Uber drivers. I'll explain that in a minute, but first, let's look at what the pilot program entails.

The injury protection plan for drivers

The protection plan will help drivers get their medical expenses covered in case something happened to them on the road.

The goal is for the company to "minimize the financial impact an accident could have on [a driver and their family]," Uber stated on its company website. For now, the injury protection plan is only available in eight states in the U.S.: Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Of course, the company may likely extend the pilot program to other states, and, maybe, even to other countries, if everything fares well.

Like any company, Uber wants to appeal more to its most valuable assets: Its drivers. Therefore, the insurance plan doesn't come as a surprise. "We believe drivers should have a low-cost option for protecting themselves and their families from rare and unpredictable accidents that prevent them from working," Uber's head of safety and insurance, Gus Fuldner, says.

The drivers await…to enjoy every part of it.

What does the injury protection plan cover?

Created in partnership with One Beacon and Aon, and policy will cover the following benefits:

  • Up to $1 million medical expenses of drivers (with no deductible or copay);
  • Up $500 a week disability expenses in income replacements for lost earnings; and
  • Up to $150,000 in survivor's benefits goes to their family (if the driver lost their lives on the job).

But here is the best part:

As a driver, you don't have to be with a client in the car to benefit from this amazing coverage. You're automatically covered, in as far as you're-logged into the app, or on your way to pick up your next passenger, or when you're just behind the wheels, waiting for a new customer request to kick-in.

However, those benefits come with some cost. Approximately, the insurance plan is $0.375 per mile, which is charged only when you're on-trip. But overall, it's something you need. Let's talk about how it will benefit you on a more personal level.

The importance of the personal injury protection plan for Uber drivers

In the earlier sections, I've discussed some of the benefits the personal injury insurance policy covers. What I want to do here, however, is to pinpoint, specifically, some of the core personal important benefits of the program for an Uber driver. Here are the four major ones:

1. It covers medical expenses for a driver (if they have an accident). Every driver is prone to accidents. Once you're behind the wheels, you're vulnerable to dangers of the road. As an Uber driver, you probably may be driving longer than other non-Uber drivers do, because maybe this is what you do for a living. What that means is that you may be likely spending longer time driving, which makes you even more susceptible to road accidents. Uber's injury protection plan is very beneficial to you, as it shoulders your medical finances in case you have an accident.

2. It covers a driver's lost wages (in case they suffer injuries on the job). Accidents rarely occur, whether for Uber drivers or any other driver for that matter. But when they do occur, a driver can't work. They can't operate to provide for their family. They can't pay those pile of bills. The trauma caused by the accident is too much of a burden; the driver can't run their business. And that puts the driver's family in danger: How can they survive when the breadwinner is down? Uber's injury protection policy covers the driver's lost wages.

3. It offers financial security for a driver's family. Uber's injury protection policy doesn't just cover your medical expenses or your lost wages. The policy also provides financial relief for your family (if you die from injuries suffered on your job).This is extremely important for a driver's family. It's soothing to know that you have an insurance that bears this huge risks. That will help you put more effort in earning while the company handles the rest.

4. It gives Uber drivers a sense of relief. Knowing that you have a protection program in place is in itself comforting. Because the fact that your medical expenses, your lost wages, and your family's financial securities are being handled, even when you're gone, will make you drive with peace, gives you a sense of relief as you hit the roads.

While the Uber's injury protection plan may not be suitable for all the drivers, especially those who drive as a side hustle, I think full-time drivers will enjoy the program. Also, drivers who are not interested in the insurance policy can still earn the $0.05/mile rate increase, which is another boost for their income.