Prior to the announcement, Uber's insurance for independent drivers working with the UberX service kicked in only when an accident occurred with a passenger in the vehicle. Uber's insurance did not cover for any mishaps that happened between rides and in those cases the driver would have to rely on their personal insurance.
Under the extended insurance plan, coverage for every incident goes up to $50,000 per individual for bodily injury; $100,000 for total for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said during a press call that he is working with insurance companies to get them onboard to covering their drivers, as many insurance companies have refused to cover drivers of such services. Until then, he said, Uber's additional coverage will have to work as a stop-gap.
"Insurance companies are taking actions that we don't think are justifiable, but we will work with them," he said.
The company came under fire last New Year's Eve, when an UberX driver hit and killed 6-year-old Sophia Liu in San Francisco. The driver was not carrying a passenger so the incident wasn't covered by Uber's insurance. Uber said that the driver's personal insurance covered the accident fully, but the girl's family have still sued Uber for wrongful death.
"This didn't really fall into a gap. The personal insurance for that driver has already offered to cover the incident...but that doesn't mean we shouldn't cover the gap," Kalanick said when asked about the accident.
The move comes after competitor Lyft announced a similar move Thursday night. Lyft’s news was a basic announcement and was not as detailed as Uber's.