Compensation Program at Uber Could Raise Questions about Classification

Uber has been in the news quite a bit recently and they are once again with the company’s new compensation program. The program could very well raise questions about the classification and entitlement to benefits if other companies in the gig economy follow their lead.

What is coming under question is the insurance coverage program that Uber launched last year. The program has been touted as Uber’s version of workers’ compensation coverage. So far, the program is available in 32 states. In it, drivers have access to driver injury protection should they suffer an injury while working for Uber.

Uber had been working on the program since 2015 and it offers drivers protection should they miss time driving due to an injury. The insurance is usage-based and only costs drivers a little less than four cents per mile. The insurance will help pay the medical bills for injured drivers while also replacing normal earnings should they miss time behind the wheel.

According to Curtis Scott, the head of insurance for Uber, the company used the model in the long-haul trucking industry as the basis for their insurance program. Scott said that the three basic benefits needed in the program are the following:

  • Medical expenses from a work-related accident
  • Replacement of income due to inability to work because of a work-related accident
  • Death benefits stemming from a work-related accident

This is a unique program that could pose a problem if other companies operating in the gig economy decide to offer similar ones to their independent contractors.

Independent contractors want just that; the freedom to choose their projects or gigs as they come. Despite the advantage of choosing your own schedule, independent contractors do not like the idea that there is a lack of benefits available to them from the companies that hire them.

The driver injury protection program now offered by Uber is optional and can be started or stopped at any time by a driver. Drivers can go as far as activating or deactivating the coverage after every trip they take as an Uber driver.

Louisiana Personal Injury Attorney Joseph G. Kopfler and partner of Kopfler & Hermann, Attorneys at Law is a fellow of the National College of Advocacy and has served on the Board of Governors of the Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association. He is a member of the Nursing Home Litigation Group of AAJ and a section member of the Admiralty Section of the American Association for Justice. Attorney Kopfler can be found on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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