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McQuiston: The Family Shuttle Service

on September 12, 2017 - 7:18am
By ALLEN MCQUISTON
The Jemez Agency
 
For parents, the end of summer can be bittersweet. While many of us are glad school is back in session, the countless extra-curricular activities that go hand-in-hand with the start of another school year are in full gear too.
 
From football practice to French Club, each day brings new opportunities for parents everywhere to become—the family shuttle service operator. And if your family is like my family, you’re probably shuttling not just your own kids but your kids’ friends as well.
 
While we’re mostly concerned with just getting our kids and their belongings sanely and safely from home to activity and back again, have you ever thought how those additional passengers would be covered by your auto insurance policy in the event of an accident?
 
For instance, if you were held liable as a result of an automobile accident in which one of your kids’ friends got hurt, would your policy provide coverage for that child? 
 
Fortunately, most personal automobile policies will provide coverage for injuries that occur to non-family vehicle occupants as a result of an accident that is your fault. Keep in mind though, that serious injuries often mean tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Plus, the more people injured in the accident, the greater the cost. It’s not uncommon for a serious automobile accident to exceed several hundred thousand dollars in bodily injury expenses.
 
So how can a family shuttle service operator best protect him or herself from the financial risk?
 
1. Purchase high limits of liability on your auto policy. Coverage is available in most states up to $250,000 for each person and $500,000 for each accident. A high-limits policy ensures you’ll have the coverage you need in case the worst happens.
 
2. Consider a Personal Umbrella Policy. Did you know that for less than a dollar a day (in many cases) you could purchase a $1 million umbrella policy which provides additional coverage above and beyond the basic auto policy?
 
3. Talk to your agent before you load up. Don’t assume you’re covered. Let’s say you rent a 20-passenger van to take your teenager’s tennis team to an out-of-town tournament. The fact is, your personal auto policy may not provide coverage depending on the vehicle’s weight. Or let’s say you’re a coach, teacher or volunteer who has regular access to the school’s vehicle in order to transport your team.
 
The personal auto policy won’t provide coverage for vehicles you don’t own but are available for your regular use. It’s always safest to consult with your agent first—when in doubt, give your agent a shout!
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