Live in the Washington region? Good news: Odds are your car won’t be stolen.

Live in the Washington region? Good news: Odds are your car won’t be stolen.

By Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post, August 18 at 12:01 AM

Good news: If you live in the Washington region, odds are your car won’t be stolen.

In fact, there’s never been a better time for your car not to be stolen if you live in or around Washington.

Fewer cars were stolen in Maryland last year than at any time since 1975. (Back in the Gerald Ford era they used to keep records on something called “paper,” and after computers came into vogue, that information seems to have disappear, so there’s no way of knowing whether Maryland’s 2013 low was an all-time low.)

Virginia had the lowest stolen car rates in almost 40 years, and car theft has dropped 60 percent in the District in the past decade.

Why?

Best guess is that cars are harder to steal and easier to find.

John B. Townsend II of AAA attributes the decline to “increased public awareness, warp-speed advances in factory-installed and after-market anti-theft-prevention technology.”

That’s been helped by better police techniques, like the use of patrol-car-mounted cameras, which scan the license plates of rows of parked cars as the police vehicle rolls down a street.

That’s all well and good, provided you’re not one of the unlucky ones.

There were 13,429 vehicles stolen in Maryland last year, according to the state’s recently released 2013 Uniform Crime Report, a 7.3 percent decrease from 2012.

Prince George’s County has the lowest number of thefts on record, almost 16 percent below the previous year, but still leads the state with 4,293 vehicles swiped. Montgomery County almost matched its Maryland neighbor with an almost 15 percent drop, with 913 stolen cars.

The crime report put a value on the state’s stolen vehicles — $77,590,345 — and another value on the number of cars recovered — $50,164,181 — for a net loss of $27,426,154.

With the economy improving and vehicle theft becoming more difficult, the local trends were reflected nationwide, according to data tracking by AAA Insurance. The National Insurance Crime Bureau said there were 697,979 motor vehicle thefts, a slight decline.

The crime bureau said that drop came after an unexplained “small increase in vehicle thefts [in 2012] ended a consecutive eight-year run of decreasing thefts.”

The District reported 3,147 stolen vehicles, a more than 11 percent decline over the previous year, according to the 2013 Crime Report by the Metropolitan Police Department.

The D.C. number is down dramatically from 2009, when 5,299 vehicles were stolen, and from 2004, when 8,136 motor vehicles were taken.

Across Virginia, there were 8,318 auto thefts in 2013, according to data compiled by the Virginia Help Eliminate Auto Theft program.

Northern Virginia and the two other densely populated parts of the state recorded the highest rates of stolen cars.

Thefts declined almost 7 percent last year in Fairfax County, with 767 vehicles stolen. Arlington County had 157 thefts last year, a decrease of 13.74 percent.

The drop was more than 23 percent in Loudoun County, where 112 vehicles were stolen. Prince William County recorded 327 thefts, a 10.41 percent decline.

“Since, 1991, Virginia’s motor vehicle theft rate per 100,000 residents has declined by approximately 68 percent,” according to the Virginia State Police 2013 Facts and Figures Report.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.

To self-insure or not? Why D.C. experts say go for it

Aug 15, 2014, 4:34pm EDT

To self-insure or not? Why D.C. experts say go for it

Illustration for the Washington Business Journal by Michele Melcher

Your guide for what you need to know before Jan. 1, 2015.

Tina Reed

Staff Reporter- Washington Business Journal

Most large employers health plans are already self-funded.

But there may be something to be said for the smaller companies to get into the game, experts told me recently.

I was asking about what steps companies with 100 or more employees should be careful not to forget as they brace for the impact of the 2015 mandates of the Affordable Care Act. And instead, they were telling me about strategy. And you wouldn’t skip strategizing when it comes to any other part of growing your business.

But many employers still treat their health care costs like they’re almost uncontrollable, said Josh Jeffries, a principal at Arkin Youngentob Associates LLC in Bethesda. Instead, they should be eyeing alternatives in how they offer coverage, he said.

For instance, shifting to a self-insured model allows businesses to reduce the overall fixed cost of their insurance plans by instead taking on the variable medical claims that come up for employees (while of course, meeting the minimum essential coverage required by the law.)

That gives your company more opportunities to save money without the risk of huge losses, Jeffries said.

Firms with less than 250 employees all the way down to 10 employees should consider self-funding, said Keith Lemer, President of Bethesda-based WellNet Healthcare Group. “This will help employers to not only take advantage of favorable incentives in ACA to exempt self-insurance from many requirements imposed on insurers, but also to avoid many of the ACA’s costly benefit mandates and requirements,” Lemer said.

For example, where insurance plans must include a package referred to as “essential health benefits,” the rules are relaxed for self-insured plans when it comes to defining coverage for paying for ambulatory patient services, such as doctor’s visits and outpatient services, emergency visits, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care and mental health care and more.

In addition to relaxed rules, self-funding allows more customization to the specific workforce, employer control over the health plan and its services and the freedom to contract with any provider or provider network, Lemer said.

And, he said, they come with a “higher probability of reducing overall employee health benefit expense.”

But doesn’t that open you up to additional risk in the case of an expensive year? (Think: AOL’s “distressed baby” scenario involving one of its employees needing intensive and expensive intervention following a premature delivery).

Having a “stop loss” insurance for your company’s self-insured plan can mitigate that risk, Jeffries said. But at the same time, it stops your company from experiencing the potential 15 to 20 percent increase in premiums following an expensive year.

“You’re in a much better situation in a bad year or a good year,” Jeffries said.

Find that information useful? Check out more recommendations in my front page ‘Survival Guide’ to 2015 for more ideas. Have questions? Let me know and I’ll circle back to our experts with your questions.

Tina Reed covers health care.

Could the future of the District’s health exchange now be up to a judge?

Aug 15, 2014, 5:54pm EDT

Could the future of the District’s health exchange now be up to a judge?

Friday was the deadline for the city to explain why U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell should dismiss a legal challenge from a life insurance group against D.C.’s planned 1 percent tax on all “health-related’ insurers to fund D.C. Health Link.

Tina Reed

Staff Reporter- Washington Business Journal

The future of a state-run health exchange in the District is now up to a judge.

Well, at least in part. Friday was the deadline for the city to explain why U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell should dismiss a legal challenge from a life insurance group against D.C.’s planned 1 percent tax on all “health-related’ insurers to fund D.C. Health Link.

That group, the American Council of Life Insurers, already filed documents calling the tax unconstitutional, saying the judge should ultimately consider their challenge to the tax, but also stop the tax from going into effect in the meantime.

Now Howell, a federal District Court judge, will consider both issues together.

In July, the American Council of Life Insurers filed suit saying the planned tax is unconstitutional and violates the Affordable Care Act. The council passed a law earlier this year requiring all health-related insurers to pay the tax, regardless of whether they can sell products on the exchange, which breaks the law, ACLI said in a filing against the District.

“At its core, this case is about the Exchange Authority’s attempt to foist the costs of its Health Benefit Exchange … on a select group of insurance companies who are unable to sell their products on the D.C. Exchange and derive no benefit from it,” ACLI wrote. “While the Authority claims that it had no other choice, the reality is that any short-term funding gap is a problem of the District’s own making.”

While this is just the next step in the case, the implications couldn’t be higher for the future of D.C.’s health insurance exchange, District officials said in documents filed with the court Friday evening.

"To deny the ability to fund adequately the Exchange will force the Authority to abandon the establishment of an Exchange in the District and to rely instead on the Federal Exchange for the sale of affordable health insurance."

The District said Congress purposely gave “broad flexibility” in how states can fund their exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The Attorney General’s office also took issue with ACLI’s characterization that the tax violates the constitution because life insurers don’t directly benefit those responsible for paying them.

“The Exchange creates direct and clear benefits for carriers of supplemental insurance, which include some of the companies in ACLI’s membership, by increasing access to affordable quality health insurance for individuals and those that work for small businesses,” the District’s filing said. “Insurers of supplemental products will reap the greater benefits of loss prevention and mitigation of claims in direct way as a result of coverage of a healthier risk pool created by the exchange.”

It is not clear when Judge Howell will ultimately rule on these issues, but I’ll give updates as soon as that happens.

Tina Reed covers health care.

Washington Post: Muriel Bowser expands fundraising advantage over D.C. mayoral rivals

D.C. Politics

Muriel Bowser expands fundraising advantage over D.C. mayoral rivals

The Democratic nominee for D.C. mayor, Muriel Bowser, speaks to the media at the National Press Club in Washington on April 2. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

By Mike DeBonis August 12

Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser has expanded her fundraising advantage over her D.C. rivals, reporting Monday that she has more than $1 million in her campaign war chest with less than three months until Election Day.

According to her filing with campaign finance authorities, Bowser added 1,202 donations, totaling more than $511,000, in the past two months. They ranged from the small (157 contributions of $21) to the legal maximum (118 donations of $2,000), much of the latter coming from blue-chip corporations, real estate developers and health-care firms with business interests in the city.

Bowser, in a statement released by her campaign shortly before Monday’s midnight deadline, said her campaign is “getting stronger” as voters embrace her “positive vision for the District’s future.” The fundraising numbers were reported shortly after Bowser took home an expected but important endorsement from a city labor council.

Bowser’s bankroll gives her a more than half-million-dollar advantage over her nearest competitor, David A. Catania, a four-term member of the D.C. Council. His campaign said Monday it had added about $221,000 to its fundraising total, bringing its coffers to about $465,000 for the final months.

Ben Young, Catania’s campaign manager, said the campaign was well on its way to meeting its $1 million fundraising goal by early fall. “For a non-establishment candidate, those are impressive numbers, and those are the numbers of a winning campaign,” he said. “The establishment candidate will always have more.”

D.C. Council member David Catania, an independent mayoral candidate, meets with voters at a home in Washington last month. (Mary F. Calvert/For The Washington Post)

Carol Schwartz, a former four-term at-large council member who entered the race in June as an independent, reported cash holdings of just over $50,000. Schwartz reported lending $33,000 to her campaign, roughly half of her total receipts.

Two other mayoral candidates, independent Nestor Djonkam and Libertarian nominee Bruce Majors, reported cash balances of less than $500. A report was not available for a fifth candidate, Statehood Green nominee Faith.

In the District’s first race for attorney general, most of the five Democrats running for the seat reported a healthy bankroll — none healthier than that of Karl Racine, a white-collar defense lawyer who donated $25,000 to his own campaign and loaned it another $200,000. Twenty-six of his colleagues at the Venable law firm kicked in donations, pushing his balance above $240,000.

Edward “Smitty” Smith, a former federal government lawyer, was not nearly so reliant on his own resources, soliciting 527 donations that leave him with more than $150,000 in his coffers. Smith’s campaign took shots at Racine in a statement late Monday, calling the contest “a two-person race between the people’s advocate and the advocate of the privileged few.”

Two other candidates, lawyers Paul Zukerberg and Lorie Masters, also raised respectable sums, each gathering more than 100 donations. Zukerberg reported having just shy of $47,000 on hand, a sum boosted by his $20,000 loan to his campaign. Masters reported coffers of nearly $45,000, which includes $26,500 of her own funds. A fifth candidate, Lateefah Williams, reported raising less than $10,000.

In the crowded and wide-open race for two at-large D.C. Council seats, six of 16 candidates potentially eligible for the ballot reported bankrolls exceeding $20,000.

They are led by independent Khalid Pitts, a union organizer and restaurateur who reported having nearly $100,000 left to spend. Courtney R. Snowden, a Democratic activist now running as an independent, said in a news release Tuesday she had a bankroll of $77,000; her report had not been posted on the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance Web site as of Tuesday evening.

Robert White, a former aide to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), has more than $46,000 in his war chest, followed by fellow independent Eric J. Jones, who drew on his ties as a construction-industry lobbyist to raise nearly $45,000 in the most recent period.

Anita Bonds — a Democratic incumbent who, if history is any guide, is assured election to one of the two open seats — made little effort to add to her bank account, which stands at $28,167. Independent Elissa Silverman spent slightly more than the nearly $30,000 she took in this period through 181 donations — more than any competitor whose report was available Monday — leaving the former news reporter and policy analyst with $20,221.

Three advisory neighborhood commissioners — Republican nominee Marc Morgan and independents Kishan Putta and Brian Hart — each reported having more than $10,000 left to spend. Five other candidates — Statehood Green nominee Eugene Puryear and independents Graylan Hagler, Michael D. Brown, Wendell Felder and Calvin Gurley — reported having lesser amounts on hand.

Does the new D.C. restaurant health exchange have the insurer backing it claims? Apparently not.

Jul 14, 2014, 2:59pm EDT Updated: Jul 14, 2014, 3:15pm EDT

Does the new D.C. restaurant health exchange have the insurer backing it claims? Apparently not.

Alisia Kleinmann, who spent years working in and around the restaurant industry, has founded industree, a networking opportunity for local food and beverage entrepreneurs.

Tina Reed

Staff Reporter- Washington Business Journal

When the Industree Exchange, a new health marketplace for restaurants with more than 100 full-time employees, went public last week, it said multiple affordable options would be available from major players like Aetna, Cigna and United Healthcare along with "skinny" bare-bones plans provided by Loomis.

But that caught some insurers by surprise. Namely Aetna, Cigna and United Healthcare.

In the days since the announcement, all three carriers told me they have nothing to do with the exchange and didn’t know anything about it until it was reported in local media.

What gives?

An Industree spokeswoman suggested the insurers were mistaken; they likely didn’t realize the exchange was set up in partnership with M&T Insurance Inc., using technology from Liazon to operate the exchange. M&T Insurance and Liazon footed the bill.

M&T offered a similar explanation, saying insurance companies are often so massive that one department may not realize what folks in another department are working on. The back and forth lasted much of last week.

When I circled back around Monday, I was told by M&T it was actually only Loomis and United Healthcare that were offering plans on the private exchange, with plans to include Aetna and Cigna later. United Healthcare responded again, saying it’s not offering a plan on the exchange.

That prompted Kevin Gannon, vice president of group benefits for M&T Insurance, to try to move beyond the providers, saying the private exchange is not just about the insurance plans. "It goes beyond the products," he said.

The system set up by Liazon offers online features for employees to choose the plan that works best for them using money provided to them by their employers. It handles all of the administrative work for those employers, and Industree hopes it fills a void in an industry that traditionally hasn’t offered great coverage, running on tight margins with armies of back-of-house staff.

Could it be a disappointing development in what some larger restaurant groups saw as a more affordable option to offering employees health insurance? Or is it just another example of how complex the world of health insurance really is?

Industree founder Alisia Kleinmann said she doesn’t understand the reason for the discrepancy, but said she’d received interest from plenty of carriers to offer plans on the exchange in the D.C. market.

"I’m 100 percent confident restaurants will be able to get full coverage for their employees," Kleinmann said. "If not through United, Aetna or Cigna, it will be another major carrier. And we will continue to offer those plans in other markets."

Tina Reed covers health care.

Muriel Bowser’s cautious D.C. mayoral campaign is rooted in arithmetic

Muriel Bowser’s cautious D.C. mayoral campaign is rooted in arithmetic

She is the only Democrat on the ballot in a mainly Democratic city.

Democratic D.C. mayoral candidate Muriel E. Bowser talks with voters as Fort Stevens celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle fought there on July 12. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

By Mike DeBonis, Washington Post, July 14 at 9:20 PM

Since winning the District’s Democratic mayoral nomination in April, Muriel E. Bowser has pursued a time-honored strategy for a candidate seeking to retain the mantle of front-runner: Don’t mess up.

In the first four months of the general-election campaign, Bowser has avoided debates, offered few hard positions on the issues and filled her speeches with broad generalizations.

Bowser and her campaign chiefs say they are using the summer to extend their fundraising advantage, build their infrastructure and otherwise prepare for what they predict will be a hard-fought contest that will kick off in earnest after summer vacations are over and kids are back in school.

In a city with a 40-year streak of Democratic rule, Bowser (Ward 4) has reason to assume that she carries an advantage. But her refusal to engage with her opponents — including council colleague David A. Catania (I-At Large) and former council member Carol Schwartz — has alienated some voters, who are eager to learn more about all of the contenders in this unusually competitive general-election race.

“Voters deserve to know the views of the candidates. That’s the only way they can make a legitimate evaluation,” said Martha H. Mitchell, an advisory neighborhood commissioner and political activist who had hoped to organize a summertime debate in Bowser’s ward.

D.C. Council member David A. Catania, independent candidate for mayor, middle, meets with voters at the home of Sirraya Gant, right. (Mary F. Calvert/For The Washington Post)

Bowser’s campaign rebuffed the invitation, like several others, saying that she would not engage in any debates before the Nov. 4 ballot is set.

Catania, Schwartz and five other independent candidates are gathering voter signatures and need 3,000 to qualify. Depending on challenges to those petitions, the ballot may not be set until mid-September.

Mitchell, who said she is leaning toward supporting Catania, said she finds Bowser’s posture frustrating.

“People definitely do not want to wait to make a choice, and to wait all the way to September is a long time,” she said, noting that Catania and Schwartz repeatedly qualified for the ballot in past elections. “They want to know what’s she’s hiding, why they wouldn’t be willing to discuss the issues side by side.”

Bowser’s strategy is rooted in basic arithmetic: She is the only Democrat on the ballot, and 76 percent of the District’s 455,000 registered voters are Democrats. And non-Democrats are less likely to vote in general elections, according to a Washington Post analysis. In the 2010 mayoral general election, turnout among current Democratic voters was roughly 40 percent, while turnout among all other voters was about 23 percent.

In addition, polls published shortly before the primary showed Bowser with leads of 20 to 30 percentage points in a head-to-head race with Catania, and she registered a fundraising lead of $370,000 in June. Such advantages have left many in Bowser’s campaign privately convinced that the race isn’t nearly as competitive as Catania and the news media might like it to be.

Outwardly, however, Bowser’s campaign claims to be taking her competitors and the general-election race seriously. The quiet summer, advisers said, is more the result of the behind-the-scenes focus on building a formidable operation for the fall campaign.

Muriel Bowser has tried to remain out of the spotlight, declining to engage in debates. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

“If somebody is looking for high-profile media activity, no, we’re not doing that this summer,” said Bill Lightfoot, a lawyer and former council member who chairs her campaign. “Muriel is involved in the grunt work of the building a campaign. It’s not glamorous. It’s hard work, and it’s time intensive.”

Bowser’s highest-profile campaign moments since the primary have involved associations with popular political figures meant to ease voters’ doubts — saying she intended to keep Kaya Henderson as schools chancellor and unveiling Democratic former mayor Anthony A. Williams’s endorsement before an Independence Day parade.

She also seems to be trying to present a reassuring alternative to what she describes as Catania’s more inflammatory style.

Catania has taken a more outwardly aggressive approach to his campaign, attending near-daily meet-and-greet events in voters’ living rooms and pressing Bowser constantly on her record and on her political approach.

“As someone who has no record and no ideas, she risks a lot by engaging in a discussion,” Catania said in an interview.

“She’s taken the only strategy available to her. The last thing she wants to do is be exposed for her lack of substance.”

Last week, Catania introduced an emergency bill that would address the possible displacement of the mostly Chinese American residents of a 300-unit apartment building near Mount Vernon Square. In a subsequent interview, he questioned why he was taking action rather than Bowser, who is chairwoman of the council committee overseeing housing issues.

When Catania pressed the issue during Monday’s council meeting, Bowser dismissed it as “grandstanding.”

In an interview, Bowser drew a contrast with Catania. “People want a mayor that doesn’t fly off the handle or blow with the wind,” she said. “People are measuring my ability to lead, and, yes, part of my leadership is listening to all of the issues and making balanced decisions.”

That balance — and caution in taking a stand — has been on display in recent months as the council has debated the city’s 2015 spending plan.

One of the most controversial proposals extended the city’s sales tax to health-club memberships for the first time as part of a broader tax-cutting package — a move that generated major pushback among gym owners and patrons.

Ahead of a final vote on the budget last month, Catania proposed an amendment that would eliminate the “gym tax” or “yoga tax,” as opponents styled it. As Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) endeavored to keep his budget package intact, tax opponents canvassed the Wilson Building for support.

Ori Gorfine, chief operating officer for Balance Gym, a small D.C. chain, said Bowser was “in­cred­ibly noncommittal” when he and fellow advocates asked for her support before the vote.

“She basically said she didn’t know which way she was going to fall,” Gorfine said. “She said she didn’t support the wellness tax, but she wanted to hear everyone out.”

In the end, the council rejected Catania’s amendment on a 9-to-4 vote. Bowser voted for the amendment, but she did not speak in support of it from the dais.

The stakes are highest for Bowser on education. Catania, chairman of the council’s education committee, has used the issue as a political cudgel, and Schwartz has said she, too, would outflank Bowser on education matters.

After briefly seeming to endorse a wildly unpopular proposal to replace guaranteed neighborhood school placements with a citywide lottery system, Bowser has shied away from making pronouncements about an ongoing and deeply sensitive redrawing of public school boundaries and feeder patterns.

More recently, Henderson has criticized what she considers a lack of coordination between charter schools and the traditional school system she leads — putting a crucial question about the city’s future in the campaign spotlight.

Matthew Frumin, a Chevy Chase education activist who serves on the boundary review committee, said the education platform Bowser leaned on in the primary — an “Alice Deal for all,” a reference to the high-performing Northwest middle school — is “not nearly sufficient” for the general-election race.

But Frumin said that Bowser has been engaged with voters in his neighborhood and that Catania, while more facile on education policy matters, has not necessarily sketched out a more compelling vision for the city’s future.

“One can understand not wanting to debate in July and August,” he said of Bowser. “But, boy, is she going to have to come September and October.”

Ted Mellnik contributed to this report.

Ridesharing Critics Urge Caution As D.C. Regulation Put On Hold

Ridesharing Critics Urge Caution As D.C. Regulation Put On Hold

By: Martin Di Caro
July 14, 2014

Critics of ridesharing services like UberX and Lyft caution that you may not be covered by insurance in the event of a crash.

New regulations for the app-based, on-demand “ridesharing” services UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar in Washington are being put on hold until the fall.

Legislation being crafted by D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) will not be finished until after the council returns from its summer recess in mid-September, leaving riders in limbo over whether the drivers, who use their personal cars as taxis, are carrying adequate liability insurance coverage.

“I want them to understand there is ambiguity. There is risk. In the face of that, they can make a decision. My own decision, my own personal decision, would be not to use these services,” CM Cheh said.

At issue is whether the tech companies’ insurance policies would drop down and provide coverage in the event of a crash if and when a driver’s personal auto policy does not kick in, the “livery exclusion” written into standard policies.

At a May council hearing representatives of UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar argued their excess or umbrella policies were sufficient. They testified that requiring primacy commercial insurance would be cost-prohibitive and scare prospective drivers away, especially those who intend to drive only a few hours a week. Now, in mid-July, Cheh is leaning toward the stricter mandate the tech companies oppose.

“We have a proposal and we are trying to work out some compromises between the ridesharing folks, the taxicab commission, and other activists who are interested in what we do,” Cheh said.

“We think we’ve cobbled together a good bill but the problem is we don’t have time between now and recess to get it enacted. That means there will be this period of limbo over the summer. That may create some issues in terms of how the taxicab commission goes about enforcing rules, whatever rules they are going to enforce,” she added.

For its part, the D.C. Taxicab Commission does not have the authority to shut down UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar, and all three services continue to operate in Washington today. The commission, which shares Cheh’s view that current levels of liability insurance are lacking, intends to enforce rules against ridesharing drivers picking up street hails.

“We are in the process of developing a regulation that would accommodate these kinds of [private sedan] businesses, but we are timing our work on this to coincide with the council,” said commission chairman Ron Linton, who is seeking to limit rideshare drivers to 20 hours per week.

In the meantime, “they are not intended to do street hails. That’s the law as it exists,” Linton added.

When it comes to whether a rideshare passenger would be covered if injured in a crash, the chairman said: “The District of Columbia Taxicab Commission cannot ensure the users of that service that they are reasonably protected.”

Uber and its tech competitors are fighting regulators across the country. Officials in 18 states and D.C. have issued warnings to consumers about potential liability insurance gaps. In Virginia, the DMV issued a cease-and-desist order shutting down UberX and Lyft but is now working to lift that restriction so the companies can legally operate there.

In response to CM Cheh’s contention that consumers should tread carefully, Uber said its policies are industry-leading and its top priority is safety.

“Our $1 million policy per incident kicks in regardless of whether the driver’s personal insurance applies and it is covered at every point along the trip,” said Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett. “There is no ambiguity as it relates to our insurance policy or the safety of the Uber platform. The drivers are covered at every point in the duration of their trip.”

Insurance industry lobbyists say rideshare passengers injured in a crash caused by an UberX or Lyft driver may not find there is no coverage at all. Instead, there may be ambiguity over who is responsible for any claims, bringing in lawyers and potentially sending a dispute to court while an injured passenger waits indefinitely for compensation.

Uber’s competitors in the traditional taxicab industry say there is only one way to guarantee passenger safety.

“Stay away from this until the date these companies and their drivers possess primary commercial auto liability insurance coverage” said Dave Sutton, a spokesman for the Who’s Driving You? campaign, an effort of the Taxicab, Limousine, and Paratransit Association.

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