Uber Required to Provide Insurance in Houston, but What About Taxis?

During the debate over the new Houston city ordinance allowing "ridesharing" apps like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar to operate in Houston, there was a great deal of discussion regarding insurance coverage issues. Last month, I discussed some of those issues and how they were addressed by the Houston ordinance. However, given the vociferous objections raised by the taxi industry, perhaps we should examine how their own insurance standards measure up to those they've sought to impose on ridesharing services.

Under the new city ordinance, ridesharing services like Uber (called "transportation network companies" in the ordinance) are required to carry at least $1 million "per accident" in commercial auto liability that covers each of their drivers from the time the driver accepts a trip request on the app to the time the driver drops the passenger off at the passenger's final destination. The company is also required to provide "contingent" coverage (meaning it only kicks in when the driver's personal insurance denies coverage) when driver has the app turned but has not been hired. This is to cover a gray area period when both the commercial insurer and the driver's personal insurance might arguably deny coverage.

Are taxi companies required to provide the same kind of insurance? The answer in Houston is "No." First, just like Uber and Lyft, most taxi companies assert that their drivers are not employees, but rather "independent contractors" for whose conduct they are not liable, and courts often side with taxi companies in this assertion. However, while Uber must provide insurance that covers their drivers for up to $1 million while they are under hire, Houston taxi companies only have to provide the minimum limits required for all drivers under Texas law, which is $30,000 per person injured and $60,000 per accident.

Taxi drivers are among the few commercial drivers that can carry so little insurance coverage in Houston. Under state and city law, commercial truck drivers, tow truck drivers, limo chauffeurs, jitney drivers, and even parking valets, and pedicab operators all must carry far more liability insurance coverage than taxi drivers. While all of these types of drivers other than taxi drivers have to carry $300,000, $500,000, or even $1 million in insurance, few, if any, taxi companies choose to provide more than the $30,000/$60,000 minimum limits.

While the City of Houston has done much to see to it that Uber drivers are well-insured, taxi drivers often remain woefully underinsured. Despite the high-profile discussion of insurance for ridesharing drivers, it remains to be seen whether the City Council will ever require taxi drivers to carry the same kind of insurance as other commercial drivers in Houston.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with a taxi or other commercial vehicle, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 1-800-594-4884.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.396.3964

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories