In a city afflicted with questionable public transport systems and rising taxi meters, ride-hailing apps like Uber and Grab seem like welcome additions to the way we travel.
And for the most part, they are — both apps have been available in Singapore since 2013 and while we’ve benefitted from their services on many a drunken night, we need to address the elephant in the room.
Following news of what could be the first fatal accident in Singapore involving a hired Uber car, the idea that Uber and Grab don't operate like traditional taxis is pretty sobering in terms of insurance coverage.
So what exactly happens when you get into an accident in or with a private-hire car? Would the company be held liable? Here's a closer (and kind of morbid) look at their respective insurance policies to find out.
All vehicles operating in Singapore are to have compulsory auto insurance that meets the requirements for all vehicles in Singapore under the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act — otherwise known as commercial motor insurance. Because of this legal requirement, both Uber and Grab have this basic level of insurance coverage.
Verdict: Thanks to the law, this ensures you’re covered similarly to how you’d be covered if you got into an accident in a normal taxi, or any other vehicle on the road.
Passenger and driver coverage
Uber has an unlimited insurance cover (no cap) for the driver’s legal liability for the death of, or bodily injury to passengers and other third parties (e.g., a pedestrian) caused by driver’s negligence. The policy also provides cover for liability resulting from damage to property belonging to other persons such as cars, street lighting, fences, etc.
On top of offering the same coverage as Uber (unlimited cover driver, passengers and third parties, and cover for damage to property), they also provide Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) — a free-of-charge benefits policy that offers additional protection to passengers and drivers in the vehicle up to US$250,000 (S$339,000) per vehicle for death, accidental dismemberment and bodily injuries.
Verdict: While both companies cover death and bodily injury, Grab goes a step further with its PAI which it provides for drivers and passengers at no extra charge.
Claims and deductibles
The passenger can make a direct claim against the driver’s compulsory insurance. Uber is also able to provide passengers with those details if they are not readily available after an accident.
Any unfortunate contingency will be covered from the first dollar; GrabCar and GrabBike passengers and drivers need not pay any deductibles.
Verdict: While Uber will help passengers with their claim process, Grab’s policy is better because it doesn’t require the passenger or driver to pay deductibles, which means no cash out of pocket.
The policy covers all use of the even when the driver is not ferrying a passenger or enroute to pick up a ride.
Drivers are covered from point of booking confirmation to dropping off passengers. Passengers are covered from point of boarding to drop-off.
Verdict: Both policies cover passengers from boarding to drop-off, but Grab’s policy only covers drivers when they’ve received a booking. Despite the slight discrepancies in coverage, the insurance policies for Grab and Uber do look pretty solid, so you can rest easy the next time you ride.