You are delighted when your teenage child tells you that they were just offered a job by a local restaurant as the food delivery person. The hours fit within their schedule and the pay is relatively good. Additionally, the job duties will teach your child certain much needed tenets of responsibility.Although your child has to use your motor vehicle they will be reimbursed for mileage. You also know that you have good insurance coverage with high limits of liability. You tacitly give your approval and your child begins their new job. Although a good driver, your child gets distracted while looking for roadsigns and plows into the car stopped in front of him.
You call your insurance agent to report the accident and explain the circumstances. Unfortunately and previously unbeknownst to you, this seemingly modest part time job has voided your insurance coverage and you are told that you are not covered for the damages caused by this accident. Instead you must now rely upon the fact that your child's employer has adequate liability coverage.
A typical insurance company policies coverage language regarding the operation of the family car for a commercial purpose might read:
Coverage under this policy, including our duty to defend, will not apply to any insured person for:
1. bodily injury or property damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of any vehicle or trailer while being used:
- As a public or livery conveyance
- To carry persons or property for compensation or a fee
- For retail or wholesale delivery, but not limited to, the pickup, transport, or delivery of magazines, newspapers, mail, or food
This problem, while not new, is occurring with more and more frequency. Many individuals purchase insurance online without the benefit of an insurance agent or simply do not know the right questions to ask. Many people often blindly purchase insurance without knowing or understanding their coverage limits or more importantly, the exclusions which render their insurance policy worthless at the greatest time of need - an insurance claim.
Avoiding this potentially catastrophic pitfall is easy. Simply call your insurance agent (or go online to the company you purchased your policy from) and ask about the possible exclusions to your policy and the ways you can minimize your risks and purchase the coverage you need. Additionally, inquire with your child's employer to make sure the employer has adequate insurance to cover your child in the event he/she is involved in an automobile accident while working.
Lastly, when in doubt, do not allow your family vehicle to be use for commercial purposes.
Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP with offices throughout the state. A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a Connecticut Super Lawyer, 2010-2013, Personal Injury - Plaintiff and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents." He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" Contact Hastings, Cohan, & Walsh, LLP today for a free consultation, and get answers to all of your questions. Download our free eBooks to receive valuable information.