Driving your personal car for business use can be financially disastrous if you get into an accident, since you will receive the unwelcome news that your auto policy does not cover you while you are on the job driving for your employer. From your perspective, it does not seem fair. Nobody ever sat you down and clearly explained to you that your personal auto policy does not cover you while working as a driver or messenger. Had you known you needed a business specific policy you would certainly have purchased one…so you think. The reality is that most drivers or messengers do not find it economically feasible or affordable to purchase a business insurance policy, which can easily run upwards of $500.00 to $1,000.00 per month depending upon the amount of protection you need.
Does My Car Insurance Cover Me While Working?
As the name implies, a personal automobile policy is just that, “personal.” These types of policies are far less expensive than business auto policies and therefore cover only personal use. They do not cover business use. From the insurance carrier’s perspective, the rationale is simple. If you are using your vehicle for delivering pizzas or delivering packages as a messenger for eight hours a day, then you would be expected to be on the road much longer than a person who drives to work and sits behind a desk for eight hours. As a delivery driver you are much more likely to be involved in an accident because of the sheer amount of time you are on the road. The more time you spend on the road, the greater the odds of you being involved in a car accident.
The problem usually arises with delivery drivers. You get a job delivering pizza, or delivering packages as a messenger. Your employer does not supply a vehicle, so you use your own car. You pick up the pizzas or packages from your place of employment and deliver them to the customers. All is going well for a while. You’re making money. You’re happy with your job, and your employer is pleased with your performance. Then, all of a sudden, you are rear ended by a drunk driver who you later learn did not have valid automobile insurance. No problem, you think to yourself, you will just call your insurance and use your uninsured motorist protection. You then call your insurance company and are very upset to learn that you have a personal auto policy does not provide coverage because the accident occurred while you were driving for your job.
Cost May Not Be Feasible or Affordable
Even if you had known that your personal auto policy does not cover you in the event of a car accident while you were on the job, you likely would not have purchased a business policy anyway. Such policies are very expensive, and depending upon the amount of protection purchase these policies can cost you $500.00 -$1,000.00 per month, which is $6,000.00 – $12,000.00 per year. Even if you wanted coverage while on the job, you probably would not have purchased it once you learned how much it cost. But at least you could have made the decision not to get the job that required you to use your own vehicle.
Prop 213 Implications
If the other driver has coverage, then you are partially in luck. You don’t need to use your policy and can submit a claim through the other driver’s car insurance. However, the other driver’s insurance, who will be looking for any reason not to pay you money, will raise the issue Prop 213. Prop 213 codified certain California Civil Code sections that prohibit uninsured drivers from recovering compensation for their pain and suffering. Because you were driving while working, you were in fact uninsured at the moment of the accident and therefore under the California Civil Code you will be prevented from recovery full compensation for your injuries.
Employer Provided Coverage
Some employers such as Uber or Lyft may provide limited coverage for car accidents. If such a case, even if your insurance does not provide coverage (because it is a personal auto policy), your employer’s insurance may cover you while you are driving on the job. This is important both from a standpoint of being able to use your insurance and because it avoids the harsh penalties of Prop 213.
Finding out that your personal auto policy does not cover you in a car accident while you are working is one of the biggest traps for the unwary involved in a motor vehicle collision. If you find yourself in such a situation, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you learn your rights and help you pursue your personal injury claim.