Lyft and Uber drivers may need extra insurance coverage

POSTED: JAN 14 2019 08:16PM CST


UPDATED: JAN 15 2019 09:17AM CST

ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - The St. Paul chill is no match for the sting single-mother Kelly Muñoz feels as she stares at deflated airbags, a jacked front tire, and major front end damage to her 2018 Jeep.

“It’s not drivable,” she explained.

The totaled SUV is parked in her friend’s garage collecting dust.

It’s just so devastating,” said Muñoz.

The full-time social worker and part-time Lyft driver’s frustration is still palpable two months after she was struck by 23-year-old David Acosta-Rosario of St. Paul Park. Acosta-Rosario was later charged with speeding, driving without insurance and driving with a revoked license following an impact that wasn’t without injury.

“I received a concussion, back and neck pain and currently still getting treatment for my lower-back pain," said Muñoz. "I’m currently seeing a physical therapist and chiropractor that I have to see three times a week.”

Adding insult to injury, Muñoz is forced to rely on her own coverage for the $28,000 she owes on the Jeep.

“I’ve been battling back and forth with both insurances,” she said.

While Lyft agreed to cover Muñoz’s medical expenses, she says, it wasn’t until after the crash that she learned she wasn't completely covered. At the time of the crash, Muñoz was logged into the Lyft driver app, but she didn't have a passenger with her and hadn't been matched with one yet. She also didn't have a “rideshare endorsement” included in her plan through American Family Insurance. Without a passenger and without the endorsement, neither company will accept her auto claim.

“Despite the fact that American Family Insurance is one of the top 10 insurance companies in this country, they don’t even offer it to drivers of Lyft vehicles in Minnesota,” said Muñoz’s attorney, Howard Sussman.

“I believe Lyft has the most responsibility, because they were obligated to explain to Kelly in great detail both in writing as well as training their drivers, including Kelly, to make sure that there weren’t any gaps in coverage,” Sussman said.

Nonetheless, some would argue it’s the sole responsibility of the driver to know exactly how much insurance they need.

In a statement to FOX 9 Campbell Matthews, a spokesman for Lyft, writes, 

"Safety is Lyft's top priority and we recognize this was frightening and unfortunate. Upon learning of the incident, Lyft reached out to the driver to extend our support, investigate the incident, and an insurance adjuster was in touch to assist and explain our coverage policy."

Meanwhile, American Family spokeswoman Janet Matthews asserts, 

This endorsement [rideshare insurance] is not yet available from American Family in Minnesota. Again, although we truly sympathize with Ms. Muñoz… and her situation, a personal auto policy does not provide coverage at times when the car is being used for a commercial purpose, such as driving for a transportation network company like Lyft.”

“It’s completely unfair,” Muñoz said, shaking her head.

And she isn’t the only rideshare driver who was blindsided by the news.

“I was not aware of rideshare insurance, nor was it ever spoken about with Lyft [or Uber]. They just needed to see that I had insurance on my vehicle and I assumed that they had accepted it, I was covered,” said Uber and Lyft driver Natalie Beecham.

Beecham only picks up passengers to earn extra cash, but when she heard Muñoz’s story it made her reconsider.

“I stopped driving," said Beecham. "The liability that that leaves you with, I don’t know if it’s worth some spare change if you’re not doing this as your full-time job,” Beecham said.

As Muñoz learned the hard way, the uninformed risk far outweighs the reward.

With no other recourse, Muñoz launched a go fund me page to help pay off her Jeep so she can get into a new car. Until then, she has quit driving for Lyft and borrows a friend’s car to get to her full-time job and take her son, Hank, to and from school.

“I’m hoping also that by sharing my story that I’m able to bring awareness for other Uber and Lyft drivers who are in similar situations as me who are convinced that they have coverage with their insurance but may not,” said Muñoz.


Thousands of criminals were cleared to be Uber drivers. Here's how rideshare companies fought stronger checks

By Curt Devine, Nelli Black, Drew Griffin and Collette Richards
Video by Collette Richards and Harshal Vaidya

Updated 7:46 PM ET, Fri June 1, 2018

(CNN)For anyone looking, it wouldn't have been too hard to uncover Talal Chammout's sordid past.

A simple internet search would have turned up news accounts of his criminal history, such as his assault conviction or the time a federal judge sentenced him to 6½ years in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms.

The judge in that case ticked off a string of allegations against Chammout at his sentencing: He had been accused of shooting a juvenile in the leg, seeking to smuggle rocket launchers into the Middle East, attacking his wife with a crowbar and plotting to hire a hit man.

Three years after he was released from prison, Chammout wanted to be an Uber driver. The company did not run a background check on him and he was allowed to drive in 2015. Three months later, he followed one of his passengers into her home and sexually assaulted her. He is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.

It wasn't the only time Uber welcomed a driver who should have been barred under the company's policy that excludes people with convictions of serious crimes or major driving offenses from shuttling passengers, a CNN investigation into rideshare background checks found.

Among the shady drivers who cleared Uber's screening process: A man convicted of attempted murder who is now accused of raping a passenger in Kansas City; a murderer on parole in Brazos County, Texas; a previously deported undocumented immigrant who is now facing trial for sexually assaulting three passengers and attacking another in San Luis Obispo, California. They no longer drive for Uber.

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have approved thousands of people who should have been disqualified because of criminal records, according to state agencies and lawsuits examined by CNN.

In statements to CNN, Uber and Lyft said their background checks are robust and fair. Uber acknowledged past mistakes in its screening process, but said, "More than 200,000 people failed our background check process in 2017 alone. While no background check is perfect, this is a process we take seriously and are committed to constantly improving."

Though both companies say they support thorough vetting, they have pushed back on government efforts to add other layers of scrutiny to the screening process. CNN found a massive lobbying effort from rideshare companies led by Uber has successfully fought off additional backgrounding requirements for drivers, such as fingerprint scans or government screening, that some state and local officials say would help protect passengers.

Uber has played a key role in shaping the language of many state laws governing rideshare companies, giving the company authority to conduct its own background checks in most states with little or no oversight, unlike many taxi operations. The company has been particularly forceful in its opposition to requirements that would force it to check criminal records through an applicant's fingerprint.

Of the 43 states that have passed laws or rules regulating rideshare driver background checks and eligibility, none require fingerprint-based checks, CNN found. In 31 states, the laws largely mirror Uber's recommended screening policies, in some cases nearly word-for-word.

Legislative sources from 25 states told CNN Uber directly influenced the writing of their laws.

"Uber has essentially regulated itself," said a former Uber employee and in-house lobbyist, who requested anonymity citing concern over possible backlash from a current employer. The former employee added that in most states, lawmakers just inserted Uber's language.

An email between an Uber lobbyist and a lawmaker underscores the point.

As Wyoming State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer prepared to introduce a bill to regulate rideshare companies in his state in December 2016, an Uber lobbyist emailed him, pushing for a change in the proposed legislation.

for complete article-


Lyft driver sexually assaulted passenger after she refused $1K offer: cops


By Joshua Rhett Miller

May 3, 2018 | 11:52am

Raheel Bin HanifOakland County Sheriffs Office

A Lyft driver in Michigan sexually assaulted a female passenger after offering her $1,000 for sex, authorities said.

Raheel Bin Hanif, 24, of Waterford Township, told the woman during a ride in Pontiac on April 24 that he owned a health spa and would pay her $400 if she let him massage her and complete a subsequent survey on his services, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

Hanif also encouraged the woman — who had previously used Hanif as a driver on the ridesharing platform — to drink from an open container of Four Loko during the ride. Hanif then arrived at the purported spa, where the victim said she felt as if she was “buzzed” after drinking the alcoholic malt beverage. After the massage ended, Hanif then offered her $1,000 in exchange for sex, which the woman refused before being sexually assaulted. Hanif then drove her back to her home, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

“We will never tolerate behavior from those who commit sexual violence,” Bouchard said in a statement. “This is a reminder to review some of the newest safety features included in apps such as Uber and Lyft, which allow you to send your location to friends and family and call for emergency help quickly.”

Hanif was arrested a day after the alleged assault and was later arraigned on three counts of third-degree criminal sexual contact. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Hanif, who remains jailed on $750,000 cash surety bond, is due back in court on Monday.

Investigators are now looking into whether Hanif has been involved in other assaults. He was listed as a possible suspect in another sexual assault in December, but there wasn’t enough evidence to obtain a warrant at the time, Bouchard said.

Anyone with information about Hanif is asked to contact authorities at (248) 858-4911.

Hanif’s arrest comes after a CNN report last month found that at least 103 Uber drivers and 18 Lyft drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the last four years.

“You are pretty much hitchhiking with strangers,” one woman from Miami told CNN. “How many people is it going to take to get assaulted before something is done?”

Hanif was “immediately deactivated” after Lyft officials learned of the alleged assault, which occurred off the company’s platform, spokeswoman Kate Margolis told The Post in a statement Thursday. The incident is now being investigated internally and the company will work with investigators, she said.

“These allegations are deeply disturbing, and are completely unacceptable,” Margolis said. “From day one, the safety of the Lyft community has been our number one priority.”



Man held in connection with Las Vegas homeless shooting deaths (LYFT DRIVER)


By Blake Apgar Las Vegas Review-Journal

February 20, 2018 - 4:10 pm

A Las Vegas man suspected of fatally shooting two homeless men and injuring two other people was taken into custody late last week, law enforcement officials said.

Joshua Emmanuel Castellon, 26, faces two counts each of murder and attempted murder in addition to a federal gun charge related to the shooting spree that set Las Vegas police and some of the area’s homeless community on edge since late January.

“(The) good news is we have a suspect in custody, and we’re relieved that a dangerous person is off the streets,” Metropolitan Police Department homicide Capt. Robert Plummer told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

A Las Vegas police officer questioned Castellon early Feb. 8 after the officer saw the man sleeping outside an apartment complex near Washington Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard, according to a federal criminal complaint.

By Feb. 14, police had centered their investigation on Castellon, Metro homicide Lt. Dan McGrath said. “Once we focused on this individual, and we get these multiple pieces of information, then everything started coming together,” he said.

Castellon was stopped and taken into custody Friday on a federal gun charge related to the case, McGrath said. The federal complaint says Castellon identified himself as a driver for the Lyft ride-sharing service.

A Las Vegas Review-Journal request for comment from the ride-sharing service was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Castellon’s estranged wife told police she confronted her husband about being the shooter after she saw media coverage of the killings, but he denied any involvement, according to the complaint. She declined comment when reached by phone Tuesday.

Police still do not have a motive for the shootings, McGrath said. Police have not connected Castellon to any other shootings.

Metro does not have the weapon believed used in the shootings, and is seeking the public’s help to find it, he said. Castellon purchased the gun just days before the series of shootings began, police said.

Violent spree

Earlier this month, Las Vegas police said one man was responsible for shooting the four men at close range with a revolver, including two killed as they slept on the sidewalk.

The first shooting happened Jan. 29, when a man was shot in the arm just after midnight as he was working outside a convenience store in Logandale, about 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, according to the criminal complaint. A police officer ran Castellon’s plate in nearby Moapa about 20 minutes before the shooting, the complaint reads.

A few hours later in Las Vegas, 51-year old Brian Wayne Clegg was shot to death as he slept outside a swap meet near Rancho Drive and Washington Avenue.

That same day, a homeless man was shot in the face as he slept near Washington and Las Vegas Boulevard, but he survived. When the man woke up, he initially thought he had an abscessed tooth, according to the complaint.

“Once (the man) arrived at the hospital, however, x-rays revealed that there was a bullet lodged in his neck,” the complaint reads.

Early Feb. 2, 64-year-old James Lewis was shot dead as he slept under his blankets near 14th Street and U.S. Highway 95.

All but one of the shooting victims were homeless.


Lyft driver charged with pointing gun at passengers in Lake View


CHICAGO NEWS 09/02/2017, 04:43pm

A Lyft driver was charged with pointing a gun at two passengers early Friday in the Lake View neighborhood on the North Side.

Jaleesa Rance, 25, was driving two men, ages 31 and 26, when she got into an argument with them about 2 a.m. in the 400 block of West Melrose, according to Chicago Police. During the argument, she pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the men and ordered them to get out of the car.

After the men got out, Rance drove away, police said. Officers found her in the 3600 block of North Broadway and arrested her after she was positively identified by the victims, who both signed criminal complaints.

Rance, who lives in Aurora, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of unlawful use of a weapon, all misdemeanors, police said. She has a valid concealed-carry license.

She appeared in court Friday and was released on a $1,000 bond, according to Cook County court records. Her next court date was scheduled for Sept. 11 before Judge Anthony John Calabrese.

“The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we have a strict no weapons policy for both drivers and passengers,” company spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna said in a statement.

LaManna said Lyft has not been contacted by police about the incident.



July 13, 2017  

Google “Uber” and “deeply disturbing.” See it?

“Uber” and “deeply troubling” works, too. Uber uses the same rote response for news stories involving sexual assault of passengers by its drivers.

Here’s Uber’s full boilerplate of late: “What’s reported in the complaint is deeply troubling and something we take extremely seriously.”

Here’s something truly disturbing. Uber and Lyft drivers stand accused of 16 sexual assaults in news stories published between June 6 and July 12 of 2017. Sixteen in a 37-day span. An average of one every 2.3 days.

One accused Uber driver in Kansas City, Yahkhahnahn Ammi, served eight years of a 16-year prison sentence for attempted murder. While in prison, the future driver was known as Perrie D. Gibson.

When he got out, he changed his name.

Uber’s name-based background checks can’t and won’t screen out this attempted murderer. Uber has had other convicted murderers sign up with fake names.

Rather than us discussing this, let’s listen in on an UberPeople.net driver forum threadon this story:

“I guess an attempted murder conviction disappears off the uber background check with a name change,” says one driver.

“Sad that it’s that easy,” responds another.

“Or you can just have your brother who ISN’T a registered sex offender open a driver account and give you the phone,” chimes in a third.

Here comes an alternate view.

“Ummm. Fares are low. So ummm. Zero effs given. Not going through nsa style checks jyst to haul jerks around for 60 cents mile,” says “Skepticaldriver.”

By “nsa style” we can assume Skepticaldriver means fingerprint-based criminal background checks conducted by law enforcement. He or she is pointing to something that grates. Uber cuts fares again and again. The corporation has turned driving into such a crap job that this driver isn’t going to do one more thing that doesn’t make him some money. It’s adding insult to injury, Skepticaldriver seems to be saying.

After years of fare cuts, Uber has refused to require fingerprint background checks partially on the grounds these type checks will hurt driver retention. But it’s the fare cuts and other varieties of driver abuse which have really hurt driver retention.

Meanwhile, as previously noted: 16 reported sexual assaults involving (mostly) Uber drivers in 37 days.

Here’s how the Kansas City Uber driver story ends: “In a statement Uber says they are taking the matter extremely seriously.”

In an exceedingly hollow statement that signifies nothing.



Woman says her Lyft driver attacked her

by: Nefertiti Jaquez Updated: Jun 20, 2017 - 10:38 AM

ATLANTA - A woman says her Lyft driver assaulted her, leaving her with bumps and bruises. A witness saw it happen and helped her call 911.

The victim told Channel 2’s Nefertiti Jaquez the attack happened along Lenox Road on June 9.

Kerri Bush said from the moment the driver pulled up he had an attitude. Seconds later, she said he attacked her.

Bush told Jaquez she needed medical attention after she claims her Lyft driver assaulted her along the Buckhead street.

"The look in his eyes, I have never seen that," Bush said.

While her physical wounds are healing Bush said she's still distraught over the incident.

"I have never had anyone attack me like that,” Bush told Jaquez. "He grabbed me and was holding me. I'm kicking him, screaming, crying."

Bush said she left work at Lenox Square and needed to get home to get ready for her second job, so she asked her boyfriend to order her a Lyft.

She said things didn't go well from the moment the driver pulled up in his silver Infinity.

“He told me I could not have a drink in his car.” Bush said. “At the time, I was like why not? Because I saw a drink in the front seat of his car. He proceeded to tell me this is his car. Take the drink out.”

She said she threw the drink away, but things escalated when he got out of the car.

“He's threatening to punch me, telling me to leave. I call 911. This man snatches the phone from my face and throws it in the middle of traffic,” Bush said. “The man pushes me from the trunk of his car, to the hood of his car, and I just slide in the street.

Moments later, she says he jumped into his car and took off. She said she reached out to Lyft but they weren't helpful.

In a statement, a LYFT spokesperson told Jaquez: “Safety of the Lyft community is our top priority. This type of violence is completely unacceptable and we take any incident like this very seriously. The driver in this incident has been permanently deactivated from the Lyft platform. We stand ready to assist law enforcement in any investigation.”

Bush said she's happy he is no longer driving for Lyft, but she said she's ready to file assault charges against the man.

Jaquez checked and Atlanta police are investigating the case.