Uber Passenger Killed… And What Insurance Has To Do With It

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On July 9 2017, a 31-year old man was killed after the Uber car he was in skidded and crashed into a tree. The driver was a 22-year old male who ended up unhurt.

With the increase in private-hire vehicles on the road in Singapore, the number of motor-accident reports has climbed nearly 8 percent to an eight-year high even as the vehicle population declines.

Singaporeans seem to love private-hire car services more than taxis as well, with a survey showing that customer satisfaction was higher for Grab and Uber as compared to public taxis here. Private-hire services fared better than taxis in all comparable categories, such as waiting times, ease of booking and ride comfort. Grab and Uber also fared better than taxis in drivers’ knowledge of routes, customer service provided by the driver, and safety.

But the fatal accident on Sunday was not the first where passengers were harmed in a private-hire vehicle. In September 2016, an 18-year old lady who was travelling with her sister-in-law, was killed after the Uber vehicle they were in crashed into a stationary lorry and van on the Seletar Expressway. In November, pedestrian Ng Sock Ching died after an Uber vehicle knocked her down at a pedestrian crossing in Hougang.

While in all cases the drivers were punished by the law, it still throws up the question – are passengers covered by insurance when they ride in a private-hire car?

Public taxis in Singapore are required under the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act (“MV Act”) to be insured against third-party liability risks, which include death and bodily injury to passengers. This means that passengers in a private hire car that is involved in a motor accident can claim compensation from the owner of the private hire car or its insurer. But what about an accident that occurs in a Grab or Uber vehicle? Are passengers covered by any type of insurance or does that responsibility fall on you? Let’s find out.

Basic Coverage

All vehicles in Singapore, including private vehicles are required to have a basic motor insurance that covers personal injury to other parties, otherwise known as Third Party insurance. This means that all passengers in private-hire vehicles will already be automatically covered.

Passenger and Driver Coverage

However, for those who are driving a vehicle as an occupation, it makes sense to have a higher coverage since there is a higher chance of exposure to accidents. For both Grab and Uber, there is an unlimited insurance cover for the driver’s legal liability for the death or bodily injury to passengers and pedestrians caused by driver’s negligence.

However, Grab goes further to include a Personal accident insurance for both the eligible drivers and fare-paying passengers. This is applicable for GrabCar rides. The insurance covers the trip in its entirety and includes reimbursement of the insured person or passenger for the following claims:

  • Accidental death
  • Permanent disablement – compensation will be based on degree of impairment
  • Medical expenses – reimburse the insured person for any such medical expenses for treatment within 30 days of the Accident and up to the maximum of a further 30 days (from the date of that first treatment) for follow-up treatment, up to the limit specified by the insurance policy.

If the passenger is covered by their own accident insurance policy, they will first make a claim with their own insurer but Grab will cover the excess of the amount recoverable.

On the driver side, Uber’s policy covers the driver even when he/she does not have a passenger onboard. On the other hand, Grab only covers the driver from the point of booking to drop-off. The latter might be a slight disadvantage for drivers since they may still be on the road even when they do not have passengers on-board.

With the increase in private-hire vehicles, passengers can be assured of greater regulations for the industry. Since April last year, drivers must now undergo a 10-hour course before they can qualify for a Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence.

So taking a ride on Grab or Uber is about as safe as a taxi, but of course, we advocate all passengers to do their part by ensuring they are belted up as well while on the road!

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