What is Uber?
Uber is a company that contracts out independent drivers (who use their own vehicles) to pick up and transport passengers to their desired destination. The passengers simply use the Uber app on a smart phone to call the vehicle, and then they are picked up and taken to their destination for a fee that is automatically charged on the passenger's credit card via the app. Generally speaking, Uber is very similar to a taxi service, but costs less to use.
Are Uber drivers insured? What is Uber liable for?
To answer the second question first – according to Uber, not much. Uber is contracting out independent drivers and the drivers' vehicles. Uber does carry liability insurance that meets or exceeds most states' insurance requirements, and the company even carries a “gap" insurance policy to cover them when the driver is in between dropping off and picking up a new passenger, but the gap coverage is at a much lower limit. Uber drivers and vehicles are only covered when picking up, dropping off, or transporting passengers.
When they are not “on the clock” with Uber, the drivers' personal auto insurance policies are supposedly covering them. Most personal auto insurance policies contain a commercial liability exclusion clause stating that the insured cannot use the vehicle for commercial purposes. This has created a gray area for insurance in the event of an accident. The liability and legality of Uber's “taxi-like” services are still being debated, so they can't be answered accurately until accidents have occurred and the courts decide who is or isn't liable and what is or isn't covered.
And from a passenger's standpoint, that's not a good thing! You simply want to know, “Am I covered or not?” You don't want to find that out after you or your family have suffered injuries due to an Uber driver's fault or negligence.
So, is Uber safe?
On the surface, Uber is a great concept. It seems more convenient than a taxi service and will probably save you money. But many legal experts have reservations about the safety of Uber. Most states and cities have very stringent regulations and requirements for transportation service operations. Uber has bypassed quite a bit of that. Uber doesn't have vehicle safety inspections, the insurance they carry is in question in several states (including Florida), and although they conduct background checks on their drivers, they don't want to be held responsible for the actions of their drivers. All of these concerns are properly addressed by legitimate taxi services. For now, you should feel more secure using a taxi or limousine service and spending a little more money for the peace of mind knowing that if something were to happen, at the very least, the taxi company will be more likely to pay damages if they were in fact liable.
If you still aren't convinced that it's worth the extra money to hire a legitimate taxi company versus ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft, just do a quick Google search for "Uber safety" or "Uber lawsuit" and read a few news articles.