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Senate Bill 324 - Authorization of Transportation Network Companies

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The Senate introduced SB 324 on January 19, 2016 to authorize transportation network companies ("TNCs"), better known as companies like Uber and Lyft, to operate in West Virginia. The bill takes a sweeping approach to regulating the registration and operation of TNCs. Notably, the bill addresses financial responsibility requirements of TNCs and potential "insurance gaps" which may occur. The bill requires that the driver, the TNC, or a combination of the two purchase insurance:

(1) When the driver is logged into a TNC app, but not engaged in a pre-arranged ride, the driver must have coverage of at least $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 for death and bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage;

(2) When the TNC driver is engaged in a pre-arranged ride, however, the limits must be increased to $1,000,000 for death, bodily injury, and property damage.

(3) The driver must also maintain Uninsured and Underinsured motorists' coverage from the time the app is turned on until it is turned off.

In addition, the bill specifically authorizes insurers to exclude any and all coverage afforded under the policy issued to an owner or operator of a personal vehicle for any loss or injury that occurs while a driver has the TNC app on and/or while a TNC driver provides a prearranged ride. The exclusions would be valid notwithstanding financial responsibility requirements.

Finally, the bill provides that all TNC drivers are independent contractors and not employees of TNCs as long as the drivers meet certain criteria set out in the bill. Further, a TNC is not required to provide workers' compensation coverage to a TNC driver who meets those requirements.

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