Uber Uses Its App To Lobby Against a Bill Requiring Commercial Insurance for Its Drivers

The ride-sharing giant claims a bill before state legislators would make it "impossible" to operate in Oregon.

Portland customers who open the Uber ride-hailing app are getting a scare.

The company has installed a pop-up screen urging its riders to lobby against a bill by state lawmakers "that could shut down Uber in Oregon."

In fact, the bill in the Oregon House would require transportation companies like Uber and Lyft to carry commercial insurance at all times.

A website set up by Uber says if lawmakers pass the the insurance requirement, the company will have to leave the state.

"Please tell the state leaders to stop holding Oregon back," the site says, "and support community and consumer choice by saying no to legislation that would make it impossible for Uber to continue operations."

Rep. Margaret Doherty (D-Portland), the bill's co-sponsor, says Uber's claim that the bill would cripple its business is untrue.

"All we're asking for them to do is to carry the primary insurance on their drivers while they are on the job," Doherty says. "I don't think that would keep any company out of business. It's what everyone does. It's what we require of everybody."

As WW first reported in March, House Bill 2995 is backed by an alliance of Portland taxi companies who say it will level the playing field. (The insurance industry has proposed a similar bill, which would mandate that the companies' drivers carry such insurance.)

Uber and Lyft currently insure drivers while they have passengers in their vehicles. Both legislative bills require the insurance to cover not only times when drivers are ferrying customers, but times when they are waiting for fares or driving to pick up passengers.

UPDATE, 2:45 pm: Uber managers responded to WW's inquiries by referring reporters to the lobbying website and declining further comment.

Company officials did point to Kansas, where Uber pulled its operations out of the state last week after lawmakers passed legislation requiring comprehensive insurance and background checks.