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Car Insurance For UberX Drivers in Ontario

Uber Launching UberPOOL in Toronto

Ride sharing service Uber is expanding in Toronto despite still receiving plenty of opposition from numerous parties. The U.S. based company announced today that it is launching its uberPOOL service in Canada’s biggest city from January 13 at 2 p.m.

Auto Insurance For UberX Drivers in Ontario
Auto Insurance For UberX Drivers in Ontario

The uberPOOL service builds on the UberX ride sharing model, allowing customers to spread the cost of a ride by pooling with other riders going on the same route. UberX works more like a traditional taxi service, shuttling one or a group of passengers with the same destination. UberPOOL works by letting customers who would otherwise not know each other pool together on the same route to spread cost, making it as much as 30 per cent more affordable than UberX.

“Our vision for uberPOOL is simple,” the statement said. “We want to reduce the number of cars on the road, while providing Torontonians with transportation that’s more affordable than ever. When two people share their ride, that’s one less car on the road and a cheaper fare for both riders.”

The service will be available between Jane Street and Victoria Park Avenue up to Highway 401, including the Yonge corridor north of the 401 to Finch Avenue between Bathurst Street and Bayview Avenue. Uber says that the service will cost $4 for a minimum fare, with up to two occupants allowed along the same route. If a second passenger joins the route they pay a minimum extra $1, but if no extra passenger arrives, the original occupant who selected the service will get a solo ride at the reduced uberPOOL price.

In recent months Uber has won numerous victories in Toronto, despite still facing fierce opposition and still effectively operating in the city illegally. The city council voted in November to legalize UberX by drawing up legitimate regulations for the service, expected to be completed this year. However, Uber has angered politicians by continuing to operate unregulated in the meantime, while taxi associations are protesting the service for its practices and the threat Uber poses to the traditional taxi industry.

Last week Aviva Canada, the second largest auto insurance provider in Ontario, announced that it will be launching a ride-sharing oriented auto insurance policy next month. The coverage would be for those working less than 20 hours with Uber and other services, potentially clearing up a problem Uber has faced with drivers operating without adequate auto insurance protection.

Taxi driver hands in license in wake of Uber competition

In the midst of all the fighting between taxi associations, local government, and drive sharing company Uber, it is perhaps hard to forget that there are personal stories lost in the power struggle. Khalil Talke highlights the plight the taxi industry is in and points to a reason why so many are looking to join the ranks of UberX as a driver… some 20,000 are already working for the company in Toronto alone.

Mr. Talke has been working as a taxi operative in Toronto for the last 27 years, but he says the advent of Uber and spiraling operating costs have become too much and he has turned in his license. Speaking to CBC, he said that the cost of licensing is too high, while he also cannot afford to put specialized winter tires on his car, as is required by Ontarian law.

Taxi Driver Hands In License In Wake Of Uber Competition
Taxi Driver Hands In License In Wake Of Uber Competition

The differing costs for drivers is thought to be a major reason why so many new drivers are opting for UberX instead of traditional taxi services. Becoming an Uber driver takes minutes and costs little, while becoming a taxi driver is painstaking. There only limited taxi licenses handed out each year, but more prohibitive is the cost of licensing, which means many new drivers start their careers having already spent hundreds of dollars.

Talke said he turned in his license, “Because we are not making money. If you can’t make money, you can’t run your life.”

He said he is now considering working for UberX, but while he shares his admiration for the company with many, he also shares the worry too. Discussing UberX, he said: “Business-wise it’s okay, I like it. Their model is okay,” Talke said of UberX. “But guess what? I don’t know how they are going to regulate this company. They haven’t been regulated anywhere in the world.”

Uber has been widely lauded for its business model, but has found excessive push back from governments and taxi associations around the world. The company is unregulated in Toronto, meaning all of the UberX drivers are essentially operating illegally. The city voted to regulate the company starting in 2016, but at the moment Uber continues in its unregulated state and is flying in the face of requests to halt operations until regulations are in place.

Other Canadian cities are expected to follow with their own regulations, but at the moment many have instructed law enforcement to go after drivers of the service. That is not a tactic being employed in Toronto, where Mayor John Tory said it would be a waste of law enforcement time and money.

Uber to spread wings in Canada during 2016

Uber has swept up plenty of interest in 2015, but the controversial company is not quite done yet and if 2015 was the year in which Uber fell into the minds of Canadians, 2016 could be when the company takes the country by storm.

At the moment Uber is known for its UberX ride sharing service that lets users select nearby drivers to pick them up pre-paid, a sort of 21st century take on the traditional taxi idea. However, taxi drivers have not welcomed this new dawn with open arms and see Uber as a genuine threat to their livelihood and industry. Protests and government attempts to shut Uber down have followed, but the company has persisted in Canada and continues to grow and slowly find regulatory support.

Uber To Spread Wings In Canada During 2016
Uber To Spread Wings In Canada During 2016

While other industries may have looked on with sympathy for taxi drivers, it seems Uber’s cross hairs are not just on the peer to peer driving sector. The company is not content with seismically changing the taxi industry and will now move to food delivery, carpooling, and health care.

Of course, food delivery and carpooling seem like natural progressions for Uber, but health care ambitions will rightly raise some eyebrows.

“Uber’s goal was, and is, to be the world’s most powerful logistics company,” said Aron Solomon, the innovation lead for the MaRS’s LegalX team, which connects lawyers and technologists. “Anything that can be delivered, will.”

Speaking to CTV, Solomon added: “So if (Uber) has food, people are going to want food from Uber,” he said.

UberEats is already in Toronto and in many aspects mirrors Uber’s driver sharing company in that it allows users to see a list of meals in nearby locations and have them delivered within 10 minutes. UberEats even lets users choose food from over 100 restaurants in Canada’s largest city and have those genuine menu items delivered within 45 minutes.

Toronto is ground zero from many of Uber’s enterprises and the city became the first in Canada to vote on regulating the UberX service. Barhop is another idea that is currently getting a trial outing in Toronto, allowing up to five commuters to carpool into various Toronto financial and commercial hubs for a flat rate of $3.50 or $4.50.

Toronto Mayor Tory unconvinced by Uber

While Toronto is probably the most relaxed Canadian city regarding the UberX ride sharing service, it still faces numerous problems with the company and Mayor John Tory has said he is losing patience with Uber.

The Toronto City Council voted in October to place regulations on the UberX service, effectively giving Uber a path to legal operations in Canada’s biggest city. Other cities are expected to follow eventually, but perhaps the continued problems in Toronto will provide a reminder to other governments across the country that Uber needs to be treated with caution.

Toronto Mayor Tory Unconvinced By Uber
Toronto Mayor Tory Unconvinced By Uber

The city is not able to draw up regulations for UberX until sometime in 2016, likely during the first half of the New Year. After the vote the city council in Toronto asked that Uber would cease operations in the city until the regulations are drawn up. However, the company refused to do so and still has drivers working in Toronto illegally.

“The UberX service allows anyone with a relatively new vehicle to sign up for the company and work as a quasi-taxi driver, often offering prices that are better than standard taxi services. Uber’s model of upfront payment has been praised, but the company has courted controversy because it is operating in Canada without regulation, while drivers are often working without legitimate auto insurance coverage.”

Mayor John Tory has said that is patience is being tested by Uber, but concedes there is little he can do and going after drivers would be a waste of law enforcement resources. “I’m apprehensive about is whether Uber … is going to be, you know, acting in good faith,” he said.

“I’m expecting, as the mayor of the city – as I think are the people and as I think are the city council – that they will respect those rules, which don’t mean months of negotiation or months of quibbling,” said Mr. Tory.

“We’ve been two months now and I’m not convinced, shall I say, that they’ve been acting with as much dispatch as I would have expected them to do, given that I think there’s some good faith required on their part,” he said.

New app gives taxi drivers Uber like service

A new app being developed by taxi drivers aims to combat the rise of Uber in Canada, a clear case of if you can’t beat them you should join them. Taxi associations and drivers across the country have fought the rise of the Uber X ride sharing application that they see as a threat to the taxi industry. While governments also combat Uber, increasingly the company is being accepted and regulations considered for its operation.

New App Gives Taxi Drivers Uber Like Service
New App Gives Taxi Drivers Uber Like Service

After protests, legal battles, and consumer warnings, taxi drivers are left with options. However, a new app called The Ride aims to take the fight back to Uber’s doorstep by offering a very similar service to consumers.

Like the Uber X service, customers sign up to the app with a profile and use their device GPS to locate and hail taxi vehicles, with the price and waiting times given before getting into the vehicle. Unlike Uber, The Ride will also offer consumer options in the form of information on other public transport with prices and wait times. There is a $2 charge that is prefixed for using the service to hail a taxi.

“There have been a lot of players in the taxi industry saying this is needed as part of a solution to compete against Uber,” said Nick Quain, CEO of Toronto-based CellWand Communications, the company behind the app.

“What we did is combine that with transit options. So that in Edmonton you’re talking about bus and LRT,” said Quain. “We’re really an aggregation of all your transportation options.”

Just two weeks ago Downtown Toronto was brought to a standstill by protesting taxi drivers, while it was a similar story in Edmonton in April. However, the protests are thought to have backfired in the consumer space as customers continue to embrace the UberX model despite the fact it is operating in Canada illegally.

Toronto became the first city to vote for regulating Uber, but the changes are not expected until next year, while the city promised more traditional taxis and easier routes to licenses in a bid to protect the industry. Arguably The Ride and any future apps like it pave the best path for the taxi industry in the long term as instead of combating Uber taxi services will actually be using the model to enhance their own business.

Uber Canada general manager discusses company, controversies and all

There is no doubt that Uber divides opinion in Ontario and Canada as a whole. However, despite plenty of bad publicity and plenty of unclear practices Uber is slowly winning its battle against governments and winning consumers over. To end 2015 the company is attempting something of a charm offensive and its general manager in Canada spoke to CTV News about the company.

Ian Black, General Manager of Uber Canada, spoke to CTV News Channel and was forthcoming about the controversies that have followed the company, but also discussed what Uber and its UberX service can bring to Canadians.

The UberX service allows anyone with a relatively new vehicle to sign up for the company and work as a quasi-taxi driver, often offering prices that are better than standard taxi services. Uber’s model of upfront payment has been praised, but the company has courted controversy because it is operating in Canada without regulation, while drivers are often working without legitimate auto insurance coverage.

There have been taxi driver led protests in numerous Canadian cities, while authorities in the country’s provinces have tried and failed to close the UberX service down. Despite this, there is a changing tide and government is slowly starting to accept Uber with the promise of an economic boost from the company enticing authorities. Toronto recently became the first city in Canada to vote on regulating the UberX service, although those regulations will not be implemented until 2016.

Black said “ride-sharing is a very different business model and very different regulatory consideration than the taxi industry.”

“Most cities around the world who have regulated this, and there are about 60 … have chosen to create new regulatory framework,” he said.

“And that’s what was suggested by Toronto city staff. It’s also been suggested by the City of Edmonton, the City of Calgary, so really Canadian cities around the country are looking for new regulatory frameworks.”

Carsharing Driver Car Insurance Toronto
Carsharing Driver Car Insurance Toronto

The executive also talked up the job creation that Uber brings, saying the company has created some 20,000 new jobs in Canada, although he readily admits that many drivers are working 10 hours or less per week.

“There’s over a half a million Canadians now who rely on Uber on a regular basis for their ride,” Black said. “I think the vast majority of people who use our service … really see the innovations that we’re bringing as a good thing.”

Former taxi driver is in favor of Uber and even works for the company

Uber has plenty of enemies in Canada, taxi unions and governments among them. However, the company that offers a smartphone app that lets users select a nearby car and driver to taxi them is winning plenty of friend too. While the legality of Uber and its UberX service has been challenged, consumers and those wanting to work for the company seem unfazed.

Auto Insurance For UberX Drivers in Ontario
Auto Insurance For UberX Drivers in Ontario

Take Hamilton based Ejaz Butt, a man who perhaps represents more than anything else that Uber is here to stay and the public is welcoming it. That will not make happy reading to some governments, although even they are warning to the Uber economy boost. It will certainly not make happy reading for taxi drivers and their representatives, especially as Mr. Butt used to be one of them.

Mr. Butt has actually led a taxi union in the past, but now the Hamilton resident is working for Uber, taking odd jobs with the company. He is a retired taxi driver who now puts in some hours in for UberX simply because he wants to and the 64-year old says that Uber cuts many of the problems that the normal taxi sector brings, offering a simpler and safer experience for driver and consumer alike.

“What I wanted to have for the driver when I was driving for the taxi company, I think you get all those things with Uber,” he said.

“I just wanted to go through the process to see why they are getting so successful, why everyone is so against them,” he said. “Unless I get into it, I will not be able to give my comment or comparison between the two.”

He insists that the company is not illegal, although the City of Hamilton seems to disagree as it has been issuing fines to those caught operating for Uber. However, Toronto has recently voted to regulate the service and it is widely believed that the economical benefits of UberX and regulating it will mean most Canadian cities will follow, including Hamilton.

Taking just 15 minutes to train to be an Uber driver, Butt says it is easier than the taxi method, which often leaves drivers down hundreds of dollars before they start making money. He also added that there are no middle men, fees and cuts are dealt with before hand, there is no change of money so drivers always get paid, and the app does not seem to have favorites.

“The driver drives the car stress-free, no stress at all, because he does not have any liability on his head, paying the lease, paying the dispatch fee, worrying about the customer not paying the fare, not worried about who you’re picking up,” he said.

“The other thing is you are treated really good by the customer,” he said. “This is one thing that I found – you are treated really well.”

Mr. Butt also believes that Uber proves to be safer than a taxi because the driver is operating their own vehicle are less likely to drive it recklessly. The 64-year old also took out extra personal commercial auto insurance for his vehicle to avoid the problem that has seen numerous UberX drivers operating without sufficient coverage.

Toronto Taxi Alliance adds new debate to UberX insurance confusion

The war of words between the Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) and ride sharing company Uber is continuing as the Alliance reacted with skepticism over a recent call for the Ontario government to create a specific insurance policy for Uber drivers. The TTA says any proposed state operated auto insurance coverage for UberX drivers would create a conflict of interests, while pointing out that a valid insurance process already exists.

UberX Insurance
Auto Insurance for UberX Drivers in Ontario

“There is already an insurance product UberX drivers can purchase: the OPCF 6A,” TTA spokesperson Sam Moini said in a statement on Thursday, referring to the “Permission to Carry Paying Passengers” certificate of auto insurance. “They do not purchase it. To do so would alert their insurance company that they are carrying fares for money, and they risk having their policies cancelled as we saw happen with Aviva in October.”

This comment points to the fact that UberX drivers often work for the company while caught in an auto insurance no-man’s land. They are neither covered by their personal auto insurance policies nor Uber’s own $5 million liability coverage, which dictates that drivers must have sufficient commercial auto insurance to work for the company. The result is UberX drivers operating essentially in an illegal insurance capacity, which has led to the TTA labelling them as “bandits”.

“These drivers do not purchase the product which is available to them now,” Moini said. “What makes anyone think they will buy a new product in the future? They do not obey the laws that exist now. What makes anyone think they will obey new laws in the future?”

The Toronto City Council recently voted to impose regulations on Uber, which would make the company’s quasi-taxi UberX service legal in the city. However, those regulations will not be completed until 2016 and in the meantime Uber continues to operate illegally in Toronto and surrounding Ontario.

Intact Insurance, one of Canada’s leading auto insurance providers, has said that it is working with Uber to create a specific UberX policy that will cover drivers to use their vehicles for personal and commercial (as UberX operatives) use. Although, it is wholly likely that Intact Financial is waiting for Uber’s legal situation to become clearer before committing to any specific deal or policy.

That leaves a sort of anything goes period between now and when Uber is finally operating in Toronto in a legal capacity. In that interim timeframe, drivers have the option of OPCF 6A coverage which would void their personal policies, or continuing to operate without sufficient coverage. It seems the majority will choose the latter.

Toronto Taxi Alliance seeking Uber injunction

While the City of Toronto voted last month to place regulation on Uber and its UberX ride share service, those regulations are not expected to be implemented until 2016. In the meantime UberX drivers continue to work on Toronto’s streets, despite the city Mayor asking the company to withdraw in the interim. Now, taxi drivers in Toronto are continuing their fight to have Uber removed from the city.

Taxi drivers and organizations representing them have been the most vocal against UberX and now the Toronto Taxi Alliance is applying directly to Mayor John Tory to seek a new injunction to stop Uber operating in Canada’s most populous city. The Alliance seems to have been buoyed by the recent decision in Calgary to place an injunction on UberX until the city decides what to do about the service.

Auto Insurance For UberX Drivers in Ontario
Auto Insurance For UberX Drivers in Ontario

Toronto has already made its decision, but the fact that Uber continues to operate while the city figures out how to best regulate it has won few allies. Indeed, Tory, who was instrumental in the city voting to regulate UberX has said that the company continuing to operate is akin to a proverbial slap in the face… stab in the back may be more appropriate.

Taxi alliance spokesman Sam Moini said the organization wants to mirror Calgary’s recent measures in Toronto.

“We need the city to act, we need the mayor’s political will to be behind it and we’re looking for this injunction to be applied as soon as possible,” he said.

Toronto has previously tried to shut down Uber with an injunction before, but the move failed, ultimately paving the way for the historic vote to regulate the company. The Taxi Alliance thinks a new motion has more chance of passing because of the fact Uber is operating in the city still, despite not having official clearance to do so.

Uber Canada spokesman Susie Heath said an injunction would hurt Uber drivers and passengers.

“Toronto is already moving forward to create regulations for the close to 20,000 drivers in Toronto who drive with Uber — a city injunction would strand those drivers and over half a million Toronto riders,” Heath said.

Injunction stops Uber operations in Calgary

Alberta is continuing to take the fight to Uber and the Court of Queen’s Bench for the province this week imposed an injunction against drivers working for the UberX drive sharing service in the city of Calgary. However, the injunction is only temporary and it is unlikely to halt UberX operations in the city.

Indeed, Calgary is just the latest city in Canada, and indeed around the world, to post strong opposition, the question now is whether Albertan authorities can continue to resist the company or whether it will need to finally accept the drive sharing service that has been deemed an illegal quasi-taxi service. Certainly, in other area, Toronto most notably, early opposition to Uber has fallen to an inevitability that the service is here to stay and needs to be regulated.

UberX Insurance
UberX Insurance

Where Calgary’s position on that is remains unclear, but for the time being the province of Alberta and the city are pushing back against Uber. Justice G. H. Poelman placed an injunction that will run until Dec. 17th and in the interim period the City of Calgary is expected to pursue making the ban permanent, although it seems apparent that Uber will continue operations in the city regardless.

Calgary officials say that the UberX service is in violation of the Livery Transport Bylaw and is seeking the company to be banned from the city. It named 57 people as drivers known to work for Uber when seeking the temporary injunction that was imposed today.

“This is recognition that private for-hire vehicles operating under the Uber umbrella are breaching The City’s bylaw and they have been ordered to stop,” said Calgary based lawyer Colleen Sinclair. “This pulls a number of vehicles that are not appropriately insured, licensed or inspected off the road and prevents them from offering a potentially unsafe service.”

Uber has only actually been operating in Calgary since October 15th, and so far some 19 drivers have been charged for driving for UberX. The city has also been urging consumers to avoid UberX cars and drivers for the company to consider the auto insurance implications of driving for a company with personal coverage.