09 June 2014
Next time a friend contaminates your California Roll at a dinner party, you may stagger away with over $1 million in individual health insurance settlements if Los Angeles regulates Eatwith, the food version of Uber.
Eatwith.com, a new online dining service founded in 2012, connects curious foodies around California with a professional chef in their neighborhood by booking a meal at the chef's home for a price, depending on cuisine and experience.
That unique service, the "Uber of supper", is unchecked by any city ordinances for now, but may be scrutinized as popularity grows.
Uber, a transportation network company ("TNC") which pays for-hire drivers to use their personal vehicles, went unregulated like Eatwith when it first started in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. Essentially anyone, from a Mom in a van to that man in a decommissioned short bus could create a profile on Uber to give people a "Lyft".
At least in Eatwith's infancy, hosts can opt to share with guests their online reviews, personal websites, and social media accounts to validate their legitimacy. Some hosts may even be visited by an Eatwith representative, earning them a coveted "EatWith Verified status" on EatWith's website.
When the TNCs like Uber, Lyft, and SideCar first hit the scene, some considered them to be safer than taxi cabs, while others demanded they meet public safety requirements.
After negotiations between the TNCs and auto insurance companies, California became the first state to draft regulations which mandate driver training, background checks, and a minimum $1,000,000 per incident auto insurance coverage.
Eatwith hasn't received the same attention yet, but since their business model is similar to TNCs', it likely won't be long till cities contemplate the same safety measures.
While Los Angeles today covers commuters of Uber and Lyft in case of accidents, it hasn't placed new regulations to protect the public from dining network companies ("DNC"), to the relief of John Stossel's op-ed and his mustache, which craves crumbs from home-cooked meals.
Eatwith may not need government regulations, just as hosts don't need to look into their own property and casualty insurance. In case guests succumb to food poisoning, choking, or third degree three cheese fondue burns, according to the Safety section of EatWith, the company protects hosts with individual health insurance worth $1 million per incident.
It does not, however, cover damage to the host or host's property. So keep away from serving gourmet tooth pick hor dourves if don't want your "Kiss the Stranger" apron gouged.