It’s field-trip season again, an exciting time for kids but also a time of year that gives those of us in the insurance industry a bit of anxiety.
Why? Because if you drive a car in Colorado (and many other states), the law requires you to carry a minimum level of liability insurance, which covers the other car and driver when an accident is your fault. But are those minimums adequate if you’ve volunteered to drive your child and other children in their school on a field trip? And if you own or run an early-childhood learning center or any schools, would you want your volunteers to carry just the minimum liability coverage? (You know what we’re thinking already, right?)
Under Colorado law, drivers must have liability limits of $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $15,000 per accident for property damage.
That’s below the levels we’d recommend for any driver, young or old, but it’s not close to enough for anyone volunteering to drive on your behalf.
Instead, we’d recommend that most drivers carry no less than $300,000 for bodily injury protection and $100,000 in property damage protection.
If you’re a school owner, making sure your volunteers carry adequate liability coverage protects not only the driver and anyone they might hurt, but it protects you, too.
That’s because a volunteer’s personal auto insurance will often cover anyone named in a lawsuit arising from the use of a personal auto.
In catastrophic cases, however, the damages might exceed the driver’s personal auto insurance limits. In that case, the school itself is vulnerable if it is named in a lawsuit stemming from the accident.
All of this leads us to non-owned auto insurance, which helps address the worst-case scenarios but also covers a school if the volunteer driver’s personal auto insurance policy has lapsed or been canceled.
Better yet, some carriers will provide an endorsement on non-owned auto policies that add the volunteer as an additional insured. This provides coverage in excess of the volunteer’s own policy limits.
It goes without saying that schools should take extra precautions when deciding whether to accept a parent’s offer to be a volunteer driver. Among them:
- Drivers who transport children should be subject to stringent screening, background checks and supervision. Be sure that every driver provides proof of a valid license and up-to-date vehicle registration.
- A formal orientation and training program should be required for all volunteer drivers, and you will need to determine which driving infractions will disqualify a volunteer from driving, as well as whether regular driving-record check are required for continued eligibility to volunteer.
- Ask volunteer drivers to sign a pledge form that they will maintain their vehicle in good condition.
- Be prepared for incident and accident response. Volunteers need to know what emergency procedures to follow if there’s an accident while they are driving on behalf of your school.
Joaquin Escobar, an Insurance Advisor at CCIG, handles the risk management and insurance needs of commercial childcare and school accounts. Reach him at 720-212-2054 or JoaquinE@thinkccig.com.
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CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you manage your long-term cost of risk with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.