Ever since the advent of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, many volunteers who use their personal vehicles on their assignments have found themselves victims of mistaken identity. But at last there is some hope they’ll be released, and free to go – without worry that their insurance might not cover them if they cause a vehicle accident while volunteering.
As you might have discovered in your own nonprofit organization, the “mistaken identity” problem is that many insurance companies writing personal automobile coverage do not differentiate between a customer who’s earning income driving for Uber, and another customer who uses his or her vehicle sometimes in volunteer assignments, and simply might be reimbursed for mileage. Those companies have either 1) refused to confirm that a claim would be covered if the customer caused an accident while on a volunteer assignment; 2) placed restrictions on how often the customer could drive as a volunteer; or 3) placed an explicit exclusion on the policy, regarding volunteer activity. There is no clarity and no consistency on this subject, among insurance companies.
All this, at a time when the population is aging and there is increased demand for volunteer-based transportation to serve elders who no longer can drive, and serve individuals with disabilities — and in the absence of any evidence that volunteer-related driving increases the risk that a customer will cause an accident.
State legislatures might act to address the problem if insurance companies will not, according to a recent article in Insurance Business America. Maine already has a law protecting insurance customers from adverse action if they use their vehicles in volunteer work. Now legislatures in Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among other states, are considering similar action.
VIS offers an excess auto liability policy that provides up to $500,000 in additional limits, if a volunteer causes an accident and the limits of his or her personal auto policy insufficient for the damage done. Click on the VIS Volunteers Insurance logo at the bottom of this page to learn more.
Volunteers Insurance Service Association, Inc. (VIS) was established in 1972 for the purpose of providing insurance and risk management services for volunteer-based organizations. In addition to still providing these insurance services today on a nationwide scale, we have expanded to provide noninsurance resources for members to manage their risks and improve their operations. By transferring the volunteer risk exposure to our program, we can help you protect your organization. Contact us today at (800) 222-8920 for more information on our programs and services. Join now!