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California Insurance Mandate for Ride-Share Wins Passage

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California Governor Jerry Brown
California Governor Jerry Brown's administration helped draft the compromise measure that was approved late yesterday by lawmakers. Photographer: Ken James/Bloomberg

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Uber Technologies Inc. and other ride-sharing companies that let people arrange transportation in private cars would be required to boost insurance for drivers under legislation sent to California Governor Jerry Brown.

While the 76-year-old Democrat hasn’t said whether he’ll sign the bill, his administration helped draft the compromise measure that was approved late yesterday by lawmakers.

Under the proposal, ride-share companies operating in the most populous U.S. state would have to provide at least $200,000 of insurance when a driver is on duty and $1 million of coverage when the driver has picked up a customer.

“This just shows that innovation does not need to trump consumer protection,” said state Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, a Democrat from Concord who wrote the bill. “In California, both can prosper.”

Lawmakers and regulators in states from Illinois to Colorado have been working to define when San Francisco-based startup Uber and competitors such as Lyft Inc. and Side.Cr LLC are liable for accidents. Uber is seeking to attract drivers and win confidence from potential passengers as it expands. The company was valued at $17 billion in June after it raised $1.2 billion in a financing round.

Uber and Lyft had opposed the legislation when it was introduced because it required $500,000 worth of coverage when a driver is looking for business. They dropped their opposition after the coverage minimum was reduced.

Bonilla introduced the bill in February, about two months after a driver who received requests through Uber crashed into a family on a San Francisco crosswalk, killing a 6-year-old girl. Uber said the company shouldn’t be held liable for irresponsible driving by a man it described as “independent.” The family sued Uber in January.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at mmarois@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net Pete Young, Michael Hytha

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