New law means more coverage for ride-share passengers--including in Amarillo

New law means more coverage for ride-share passengers--including in Amarillo

Amarillo, TX - Increasingly popular ride-share drivers are gearing up for what they say is their busiest night of the year.

If you haven't used one, you've likely heard of one, a car service that is tailor made for you and requested via cell phone. Well now those companies have one added step before they can pick you up.

Stephen Bilodeau has been driving for Uber about a year and a half. He says currently in Amarillo there are about 14 drivers in total.

House bill 1733 sets up automobile liability insurance requirements for companies like Uber and Lyft.

Before, there was no legal requirement, meaning if there were any incidents while in those cars, it was up to the person hurt to pay.

"The new law that goes into effect January 1st requires that there be a million dollars of liability insurance coverage both for the company such as Uber or Lyft and also for the drivers. They're going to have to have liability coverage of a million dollars in order to provide that kind of service," says Attorney Stewart Werner.

But Bilodeau says he is already prepared as Uber was well aware of the law, and acquired the insurance needed.

"Well you have your regular car insurance when drivers when passengers aren't in there. Uber insures the riders for a million dollars if they're in the car with you, but you can also get your own commercial insurance to go ahead and insure the passengers," says Bilodeau.

This new insurance will allow coverage for death, bodily injury, and property damage for each incident. And Bilodeau says this will be beneficial as the market continues to grow especially among those who don't want to drink and drive.

"Uber has grown over the last year as people have realized the kids are home from college, a lot of college kids use it and it's a smart thing. For 10 dollars instead of paying 17,000 for a DUI you know, so it's in my book once you use it, it's just not worth driving drunk anymore," says Bilodeau.

Open carry also takes effect January 1st, and Uber has a strict policy not allowing firearms in their vehicles and they say that will not change.