Do you and your coworkers frequently carpool to the office together? If so, it's time to have a talk about carpooling safety. Of course you all need to take the obvious precautions, such as buckling up your seat belts and staying off your phones when it's your turn at the wheel, but have you considered safety as it relates to auto insurance? Ensure the long-term safety of your coworkers -- not just their immediate safety -- by reading the below 3 tips and then printing them out and passing them around the office break room.
1. Keep Things Fair With Turns, Not Cash
Most standard auto insurance policies state that, when carpooling, the driver and his or her passengers are covered in the event of an automobile crash. However, the second you make money off of your carpooling venture, you're considered a taxi or livery, and your passengers are not covered unless you have commercial auto insurance.
If one or two people from the office usually do most of the driving in exchange for the rest of the carpool participants throwing them a few bucks for gas at the end of the week, you've got to be careful. If the amount of gas money the riders are giving the drivers actually exceeds their fair portion of the total gas bill, the drivers are making money and all carpool participants may not be covered by auto insurance in the event of a crash.
Even if a few people like driving more than the rest of the gang, try to keep things fair by allowing everybody their turn at driving instead of trying to divvy up gas money.
2. Check Your Coverage Amounts
Just because you have auto insurance coverage that promises to pay for the medical expenses of riders injured in your car doesn't mean it will pay all medical expenses. Your auto liability insurance is only good up to the dollar amount of your total coverage. If you have 4 people in your car who each sustain injuries costing $50,000, a $100,000 liability policy isn't going to fork out enough to pay all those bills.
The average cost of a disabling, non-fatal auto accident-related injury is $61,600, and the average cost of an auto accident death is $1,130,000. Keep these numbers in mind when considering how much coverage you need when carpooling. If a new person joins the carpool, it may be wise for each car owner to seek extra coverage against bodily injury.
3. Be Candid About Your Auto Insurance Policies
If you've got a full carload in your carpool and you're not willing to take on the extra expense of boosting your bodily injury coverage, the other riders should be aware of this. Likewise, you should be informed if your carpooling buddies don't have the proper protection in place to compensate you for an injury you receive while riding in their car.
Get together with your coworkers and make a rule that anybody participating in the carpool will need to provide proof of auto insurance as well as proof of the limits of that auto insurance. This way, everybody can make their own informed decision about whether or not they feel comfortable with how damages will be paid in the event of an accident.
There's more to carpooling safety than trying to prevent participants from getting injured in an auto accident -- you've got to make sure they can get the medical help they need if they ever do sustain injuries, too. Be proactive in your efforts to protect you and your fellow coworkers while carpooling by passing this information around your office, and contact your auto insurance provider for more tips on making sure everybody in your group is covered in the event of a collision.