For the first time a German insurance company terminated the insurance of a Wundercar-driver. This started a discussion about a possible liability loophole in the event of accidents. A similar discussion has already been raging in the US for months.
The ball was set rolling by the Ministry of Economy, Transport and Innovation, responsible for commercial passenger transport in Hamburg. They pursued a complaint against a driver who carried out a passenger trip for the ride-share company Wundercar. The driver was rewarded with a 6 Euro tip for a 1,7 kilometre ride. The display also showed that the said driver had previously carried out 74 rides commissioned by Wundercar.
Since the vehicle was not registered as a taxi or rental car at the regulators, the authority contacted the vehicle insurance of the car owner and asked for information as to whether the policyholder had informed his insurance company about his work for Wundercar.
As the reply from the insurance – as seen by our editorial staff – shows, the driver had arranged the vehicle policy via an online insurance portal. „The ‘type of use’ was indicated as ‘mostly private’,“ the letter says. The interim use of the vehicle for commercial purposes had not been communicated by the policyholder, which is why the insurance company did not have any knowledge of this.
As a consequence of the request by the Hamburg authority, the insurance cover has now been withdrawn for this particular driver. „Since the changed ‘type of use’ creates an extra hazard, we have made use of our extraordinary termination right under Section 24 of the Insurance Contract Act and terminated the contract […].“
When the authority inquired, whether a liability loss occurring in this kind of passenger transport was covered in such a case, the insurance company, however, provided no response.
Taxi Times has therefore asked both the Federation of Insurers as well as the largest vehicle insurance companies for their opinion. We will publish a summary of the responses in our print edition of mid-August.
The topic of insufficient vehicle insurance cover will keep all countries busy in which companies such as Wundercar or Uber commission rides to private drivers. In the USA, where in addition to Uber, Lyft and Sidecar provide similar services, the discussion about the insurance risk has been going for years. Amongst other things, a regulation which requires the mediator –like Uber or Wundercar – to cover the vehicle and the occupant(s) is being discussed.
• JH/Photo: Wundercar