The Northern Territory Government has announced that Uber is set to start up in Darwin next month and Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) is urging motorists to check their motor vehicle insurance policies before signing up as drivers.

Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Eva Lawler heralded Uber’s arrival as a win for Territorians and for the economy. The ridesharing company joins Hi Oscar which began operating in Darwin in February.

“Territorians want ridesharing services available in the Territory and Uber becomes the second company to start up in Darwin this year. This will also create many local jobs, something the Territory Government has made very clear is its absolute priority,” Lawler said.

Legislative change to pave the way for ride-sharing was introduced last year, which included slashing annual taxi license fees, while introducing a $1 levy to all taxi, minibus, private hire car and ride-sharing trips.

Lawler said the legislative changes were implemented after extensive consultation with the taxi industry and Uber drivers will be subject to the same safety regulations as other commercial private vehicle operators.

Uber’s Queensland and NT State Manager Alex Golden said the company was happy to launch in the Territory, “I’m excited to confirm that Uber is coming to Darwin, aiming for a late August launch.”

“Ridesharing is different in every city and in the NT we expect riders to be most active on weekends when locals are looking for a safe way to get home, as well as around peak tourism periods and major events. We’re now looking for interested locals to sign up for the opportunity to earn extra income with the flexibility that
comes with being their own boss.” Currently, Uber intends to operate only in Darwin and Palmerston.

ICA General Manager Communications Campbell Fuller said comprehensive and third party property motor insurance policies did not automatically cover drivers for ride hailing services. “Most insurers regard using a private car for ride-hailing services as a commercial use of a motor vehicle.”

He explained, “Most policies exclude the use of a private vehicle for taxi or car-hire style services, though some motor vehicle policies may cover these services under strict conditions. A ride-hail driver involved in a collision who is not appropriately insured risks having their insurance claim denied, and this could expose them to debts of tens of thousands of dollars. NT ride-hail drivers should contact their insurance company to find out if their policy is appropriate, or talk to an insurance broker.”