California’s A.B. 2293 – sponsored by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, D-Concord – crossed another hurdle Wednesday by earning approval of the state Senate Insurance Committee. Having earlier been amended by Senate Energy, Utilities and Commerce Committee, the bill was further modified by the Insurance Committee to clarify the definitions of transportation network company services and the minimum insurance requirements for each period of service.

Specifically, the amendments define TNC services as “app on,” meaning that a driver is acting in a commercial capacity whenever he or she is logged in to a TNC application and signals availability to take fares. The bill also sets the minimum liability coverage at $750,000; allows for limits to be met by a combination of policies obtained by the driver and/or the TNC; and requires TNCs to maintain coverage for uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, comprehensive and collision, at amounts to be set by the CPUC..

During the Insurance Committee’s hearing, support for and opposition to the bill came generally from the same quarters as during the Energy, Utilities and Commerce Committee’s hearing. However, some Uber drivers come out in support of the bill, because they want the right to unionize. Moreover, the Department of Insurance now opposes the bill, because the amended version lowered the minimum coverage threshold from the original $1 million.

A few committee members questioned about the lack of data to determine what a minimum threshold should be, and warned that setting the level too high could stifle innovation and technology. However, Chairman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, noted the committee holds “the responsibility to make sure there is sufficient protection for passengers, pedestrians, drivers and to the companies.”

Ultimately, the bill passed the committee by a 9-1 vote. Its next stop is the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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