As early as they start school, children become involved in extra-curricular activities. Adults charged with getting groups of kids from home or school to the ball field and back home again are usually more concerned with maintaining their sanity than auto insurance. However, hauling kids around could have a serious affect on your coverage.
In an auto accident, drivers can be legally liable for their passengers’ injuries. Most personal auto policies will extend coverage for injuries to passengers when driving your own car. But what if you rent or borrow a large van to take the soccer team out of town for a weekend tourney? While most auto policies will cover your actions in a car that isn’t yours, many contain restrictions on the size and type of vehicle they will cover.
School employees, such as teachers and coaches, who use their school’s vehicles to haul students and players from place to place have another reason to be concerned. In addition to possible size restrictions, there’s a concern with regular usage; specifically, your personal auto insurance policy may not pay for your liability from an accident in a vehicle that is not yours but is provided for your regular use. In addition to uncertainty with whether or not your policy will even respond, another serious concern is adequate limits of insurance. A serious injury to a single passenger could mean thousands of dollars in medical and other costs stemming from the injury, and those dollars increase with the more passengers that are involved. There are published accounts of accidents involving adults driving in a car pool in which damages greatly exceeded $1 million.
Yet, many adults continue to purchase auto liability limits based on the minimum required by state law. In some states, this required amount may be as little as $10,000 per person and $20,000 total for all injuries in an accident—not likely sufficient when you consider the severity of certain injuries and the number of passengers involved. Remember also that this limit applies for all injuries caused by an accident for which you are liable, including passengers of other cars.
Adults driving kids to athletic and other events should consider maintaining the highest liability limits possible, as well as a personal umbrella policy. The umbrella can provide much higher limits of liability, some well over $1 million.
Today’s drivers are faced with a multitude of distractions that pose a risk for accidents. Understanding your personal auto insurance could help bring at least a little peace of mind – talk to Jon Jepsen at SentryWest Insurance (your Trusted Choice® insurance professional) if you have any questions.
Jon Jepsen, CIC