HOUSTON -- It s a transportation company that s growing at record speeds, but some are saying slow down and put on the brakes because when it comes to insurance coverage you may not be safe.
It does concern us, said Mark Hanna with the Insurance Council of Texas as he spoke of Uber. We have 20 different states looking at this and no one really has come up with a solution.
Uber connects a passenger to a driver via an app on a cell phone. That s the only way the driver and passenger are supposed to communicate. All fare transactions go through a credit card already on file.
But rivals of Uber, such as local cab companies, say that isn t always happening and that can put everyone in danger. And that has the insurance industry concerned.
You ve got gaps, said Hanna. In fact, there may not be any insurance coverage whatsoever.
According to Uber, unless you go through the app and abide by Uber s platform, Uber s insurance policy does not apply.
And according to Hanna most personal insurance policies don t cover drivers if they charge a fare. And that could leave people exposed.
In an effort to prove their point, attorneys for local cab companies hired private detectives who wore hidden cameras. The detectives did not go through the app. They just hailed an Uber driver who they found in the area.
Undercover video shows the detectives approaching the Uber driver s window and asking him for a ride. The driver accepted the ride.
The detectives paid in cash for their ride and at the end of the trip, asked for the driver s cell phone number so they could call him for a future ride. The driver willingly gave his number to the detectives.
Later, the detectives made a call to that driver and the driver picked them up at a location near downtown.
I figured, shoot, it will be easier and you can make more money and pay your cash. We don t have to do that other stuff, the private detective said to the driver.
You can hear the driver respond in the undercover video.
At least I don t have to give my 20 percent, he said referring to the percentage Uber gets from each ride that goes through the app.
Houston-based attorney for taxi and limo services, Martin Hill, said everyone is at risk.
There is absolutely no coverage for these hailed trips or these repeat business trips, said Hill. The passenger is at risk, any third party is at risk.
A woman by the name of Olivia, who did not want KHOU 11 News to use her last name, is a former Uber driver who claims she was eventually fired.
It s almost out of control, she told the KHOU 11 News I-Team as she talked about the confusion she had over the company's insurance policy.
She says even when she was working as an Uber driver she had unanswered questions about the company s insurance coverage.
KHOU: So at this point you have no clue what kind of insurance you had?
Olivia: With Uber? No. None.
And it s concerns like that that have the Texas insurance industry asking Uber to put on the brakes.
We re just asking them to slow down, said Hanna, Let us put some mechanism in place that lets us provide coverage for everybody, so everybody is safe.
Uber declined and on-camera interview, but in a written statement said if a driver is accepting trips through other means that the Uber platform, Uber s insurance policy does not apply.
We take the safety and integrity of our platform very seriously, said Lauren Altmin a spokesperson for Uber. Driver partners are banned from using the Uber platform if they are found to be in violation of those policies.
Uber is operating illegally in Houston. Council is set to vote on the issue next week.