Uber vs. Lyft – Which is Better in San Francisco?

You might say that ride-sharing was born here in San Francisco.

Both Uber and Lyft were born in San Francisco and play a special role in the history of our city. Uber came first in 2009, followed by Lyft in 2012, then an array of smaller companies trying to get a slice of the lucrative rideshare market.

People in the Bay area often favor one over the other, staying diehard Lyft fans or preferring Uber for a variety of reasons. Oddly enough, their services are essentially the same.

Both are app-driven services anyone can call anytime, day or night, any day of the year. They both utilize mostly unregulated drivers who zip around in their private vehicles as a sort of pseudo taxi service. A ride in an Uber is almost indistinguishable from a Lyft ride, at this point.

As a personal injury law firm with offices in San Francisco and beyond, we keep a close eye on both of these companies and the rideshare crashes that are happening in San Francisco. Here’s what we’re seeing in the battle of Uber vs. Lyft.

Uber vs. Lyft Services

To evaluate the two services, it helps to take an apples-to-apples approach. Each company has various types and levels of services. The following types of Uber and Lyft services are comparable:

  • UberX and the original Lyft
  • UberXL and Lyft XL
  • UberPool and Lyft Shared
  • Uber Express Pool and Lyft Shared Saver
  • Uber Black and Lyft Lux Black

The Prices of Uber vs. Lyft

Just a few years ago, the base price for an Uber was $1 while Lyft was charging $1.50, which meant Uber was the lower-cost choice. But things have changed over time. When you look at the averages, Lyft now costs an average of 93 cents per mile in San Francisco while Uber is about $1.29 per mile.

Both companies now charge around $1 to start a ride and then charge $1.50 per mile, which usually ends up costing around 25 cents per minute. And both remain more cost-effective than calling a taxi or specialty driver service.

However, both companies add fees to their base rates and charge premium rates during prime hours. During the morning commute, post-work rush hour, and when big events are in town, these prices go out the window and you’ll essentially have to pay whatever the company is charging.

Safety and Security Issues With Uber and Lyft

You should know that both of these companies have come under fire for misleading the people of San Francisco about rideshare accident reports. Neither company wants you to know that there have been some serious safety concerns with their services.

Some safety concerns stem from the ridesharing apps' lack of oversight or lackadaisical approaches to security. One 26-year-old man who drove for both Uber and Lyft wrote in a Business Insider article that signing up for Lyft was far "too easy," leaving him to wonder about the company's safety standards and how well they screen their drivers.

Uber temporarily lost its license to operate in London - the most profitable part of Europe for rideshare services - due to safety and regulatory concerns. Even San Francisco had to take legal measures to ensure Uber and Lyft maintained their licenses to operate in the city.

In addition, there have been an increasing number of attacks and robberies here in San Francisco perpetrated by individuals posing as Uber drivers. The problem has become so rampant that the city has urged app users to ensure that they're getting in the right car.

Both apps have responded to criticism over their safety procedures and have created features that are designed to increase passenger security. Riders can now share their estimated time of arrival, location, and status with friends and family.

But those features only help others locate you if something goes wrong. What can you do to prevent potential incidents before they happen?

Follow these safety steps anytime you use a rideshare service.

  1. Request a ride from inside. Standing on the sidewalk or street could make you a potential target for scams and impostors.
  2. Check the driver's rating on whatever app you choose to use.
  3. Get in the right car. Check driver's photos and license numbers against what is listed in the app and never volunteer information. Make the driver say your name first.
  4. Ride in the back seat whenever possible.
  5. Follow your route in a map app on your phone so you can immediately spot if the driver is straying from the course.
  6. Report any safety concerns or criminal activity through both the rideshare app and by calling the San Francisco police at 1-415-553-0123.

Uber and Lyft Insurance and Liability

As a traffic accident law firm in San Francisco, Sally Morin Law sees the legal nightmares that unfold when ridesharing is involved. Although California law requires rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to hold $1 million insurance policies in case someone is injured in an accident, it’s hard to hold them to it.

Uber’s partner program offers its drivers coverage with major insurance carriers like Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Progressive, and others. In the event of a covered accident, a passenger could qualify to receive payment for their injuries and other damages.

Lyft coverage provides options for collision, liability, and uninsured motorist insurance. Of course, Lyft - like Uber and other companies - is very careful to state that this insurance only applies during certain periods. To understand what this means, read on for our explanation about ridesharing coverage periods.

Both Uber and Lyft view their services’ rides as having distinct driving periods. Here’s a breakdown of how each company handles coverage.

Uber rideshare insurance coverage depends on three periods:

Period 1: The driver is offline or the app is off.

During this period, the driver’s personal insurance coverage applies, not Uber insurance.

Period 2: The driver is available or waiting for a ride request.

When a driver is in this period, Uber maintains third-party liability coverage if personal auto insurance doesn’t apply, including $50,000 in bodily injury per person, $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident.

Period 3: The driver is en route to pick up riders or is actively driving a passenger.

While a driver is actively picking up or driving passengers, Uber maintains $1 million in third-party liability insurance, uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, contingent comprehensive and collision coverage, and up to the cash value of the car with a $1,000 deductible.

Lyft accident insurance coverage is similar to Uber’s but they phrase it somewhat differently. Here’s how Lyft describes its coverage periods.

Period 1: Driver mode is off.

During this period, the driver’s personal insurance coverage applies, not Lyft insurance.

Period 2: Driver mode is on but no ride has been accepted.

Lyft’s primary liability coverage provides coverage when the app is in driver mode but before the driver has received a ride request if personal insurance does not respond. The policy has a $50,000 maximum limit per person, $100,000 maximum limit per accident, and a $25,000 maximum limit for property damage with no deductible.

Period 3: A ride has been accepted, through when the ride ends.

Lyft primary liability insurance acts as the primary coverage from the time a driver accepts a ride request until the time the ride ends in the app. There is $1 million of coverage per accident. If a driver already carries their own commercial insurance, or personal coverage providing specific coverage for ridesharing, Lyft’s policy continues to be excess to this coverage.

While both companies have insurance policies that cover their drivers and passengers for accidents, these policies are contingency policies and only come into play if the driver’s personal insurance refuses to pay claims. Getting compensation can be a real hassle.

You Can Win a Settlement Against Either Company

As experienced Uber and Lyft accident attorneys, Sally Morin Law has helped many victims pursue claims against Uber and Lyft to get the compensation they deserve. From the moment Uber launched in 2009, we’ve been here to help the people of California cope with the aftermath of accidents.

You can make an insurance claim against either company or sue them if necessary. Many of these cases have resulted in significant settlements without going to court, including a $500K settlement for a cyclist hit by an Uber driver in the new bike lane on Oak Street at Divisadero.


As a experienced Uber accident attorneys, we’ve helped many victims pursue claims against Uber. Many of these cases have resulted in significant settlements including a $500K settlement for a cyclist hit by an Uber driver in the new bike lane on Oak Street at Divisadero.

Uber Accident

Does One Company Have More Satisfied Users?

Opinions about Uber and Lyft have shifted quite a bit over time. The #DeleteUber movement harmed the company’s reputation significantly regarding claims of driver abuse, passenger abuse, racism, and public safety issues.

In terms of how well the two services work, people tend to think they’re pretty comparable. Among people who switch from Uber to Lyft or vice versa, only 6% say it’s due to one working better than the other. Most people either stay with Uber or Lyft out of habit or make a momentary decision to switch based on the going rate in San Francisco.

There have been persistent rumors that Lyft delivers nearly 100% driver satisfaction. However, the actual numbers are less astounding. Studies show Lyft has about 75% driver satisfaction while Uber has about 49% driver satisfaction. As for driver pay and fare revenue, Uber keeps about 35% of fare revenue, while Lyft keeps 38%.

Public Opinion Still Wavers on Lyft vs. Uber

Multiple scandals have hit the ridesharing world but Uber, being the first and most famous service, seems to have had more than its fair share. From accusations of sexual assault to claims of price gouging, much of the news about ridesharing has been negative.

In 2017, it was revealed that Uber used a secretive program to identify law enforcement officials and actively avoid sting operations. And both Uber and Lyft have suffered massive security breaches allowing personal information for more than 50 million people to be exposed.

On top of all that, even Uber and Lyft agree that their services may be harming the environment instead of having the intended positive effect. Ridesharing adds to traffic congestion, emissions, and an over-reliance on cars instead of walking and bicycling.

Uber vs. Lyft: How They Handle Accident Claims

You probably wouldn’t notice much difference between how Lyft and Uber handle an accident claim. Both companies are equally difficult to work with! And both want your claim to go away as quickly as possible, with minimal cost to them.

Uber and Lyft have been active the past few years in fighting California’s latest efforts to improve ridesharing safety. You may have heard about a huge change in how the state of California views rideshare drivers. You should know that California law regarding rideshare services is constantly evolving. Lawmakers are scrambling to update the law. Learn the latest here.

You Need a Lyft and Uber Accident Lawyer

Regardless of which ridesharing service you choose, your rights are the same. If you’ve been injured in a Lyft or Uber accident, the driver’s insurance company, and/or the ridesharing company’s insurance may be legally required to pay for your past and future medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering.

Of course, getting the compensation you deserve won’t be easy. You don’t have to face this process alone. Hiring an experienced rideshare accident lawyer is your best bet!

After an Uber or Lyft accident, you need a lawyer who knows the games these companies play and can outsmart them at every turn. Call 833-SALLY-SF today or get a FREE online Lyft or Uber case evaluation now to see how we can help.

We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of traffic law, including Uber and Lyft accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.

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