Auto Insurance: Is your AP on your policy?

by cv harquail on July 17, 2009

Here’s a quick question from the suggestion box:

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Do you put your au pair on your auto insurance policy?

For me, this one is a no-brainer. If your au pair drives your car(s), she should be on your policy. It’s not just the law, it’s a good idea. h

As younger and less experienced drivers, au pairs are statistically more likely than a parent to have some kind of car accident. She needs to be insured.

Auto repair costs and medical costs can be so high, even for what looks like minor damage, that having her uninsured exposes you to too much financial risk. (Anyone dent the side of a minivan door? I backed in to one recently, and it cost me $750 to fix it.)

Do your best to manage the cost

We’ve always had au pairs who were 21 and older, in part b/c the cost of insuring them is much less than the cost of insuring someone under 21.

We have also asked for the ‘good student’ discount, and even once shopped around for a better offer than USAA (couln’t find one).

And, we manage the deductibles on our cars so that we can reduce the rates. But, we always always insure our au pairs outright.

Your mileage may vary, though. What do you do?

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Also, be sure to check out these posts on Cars & Driving (and there are even more if you click on the category Cars&Driving in the sidebar…)

When your au pair has a fender-bender: Who pays and what and how
After the car accident: Advice on what to talk about with your au pair

Want safe driving? Forbid your au pair to use the cellphone in the car – ever

{ 21 comments }

StephinBoston July 17, 2009 at 9:09 am

I don’t know if the law is the same everywhere but in MA, anyone who can drive and lives in your household needs to be on your insurance policy. Our first au pair totaled the car on her first trip out by herself and didn’t drive for the rest of her stay with us (she extended, so 1 year and 3 months). Since she had a drivers license, she was still on our policy, just excluded from all the cars so we didn’t have to pay the premium for her. Current AP is from Germany and is on our policy, since she doesn’t have 6 years of experience (She’s 22 and they start driving at 18 in Germany) we have to pay the “inexperienced driver premium”. Wow, it’s expensive, 2002 car, close to $1000/year to insure her. Makes me dread insuring my 2 boys when they get to drive :-) I don’t think anyone should not insure their au pair on their cars, nothing good can come out of that..

MTR July 17, 2009 at 9:40 am

We have had all three of our Au Pair on our car insurance policy. We have two cars, a minivan and a sedan. Au Pairs only drive a sedan and thus are only on the sedan’s insurance policy. They are told upfront that they will never drive a minivan and thus they are not on the policy for it.

We have been lucky that it did not cost us much extra to insure out au pairs. Our first one was 22 and our monthly payment on car insurance went up $10/month. Our second AP was 25 and we paid $4/month extra for her. For some reason, our current AP, who is also 25 is costing us almost $30/month extra to insure, but our insurance company also told us that there is a new regulation in our state and she will have to get a US driving license instead of using her home country’s one. As she just got her SS card this week, hopefully she will get her license soon and out insurance payments will go down again. Plus she will be 26 in January, so that should bring down the insurance as well.

Anonymouse July 17, 2009 at 10:51 am

I raised this question because we have been told different things by different people. In our State, MD, it is not required that the AP be named on a policy (cars have to be insured obviously. Our own insurer gave a somewhat dubious answer when we asked. They told us no it was not technically required and she could be considered a guest driver like anyone else who may occasionally drive our car, but if she was going to be a regular driver, then yes she should be on the policy. Some of our HP friends do not put the AP on their coverage, where others do. I can’t figure out any rhyme or reason to any of it, other than it looks to me like decisions are being made out of cost, which is not how it should be.

I think we will add her on. Better safe than sorry.

Anonymous July 17, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Our contract with our AP agency requires that we put our aupair on our policy as a listed driver. I have heard from many aupairs , friends and neighbors that many people do not put the aupair on the policy.
My insurance agent who is a friend of many years told me that if an accident occurs the aupair and whomever else is involved will be covered but the insurance will charge us a penalty for allowing someone who is not listed on the policy to drive our car.
My sister tells me that she pays about $ 1000.00 to cover two teenage children on her policy. We pay an additional $700.00 per month. ( We also have an excellent record – no accidents in 30 years.
Frankly, I cannot see how our agency can force us to list an aupair.
It seems to me that the clause in our contract will relieve the agency of an liability if we do not respect that clause. No one has ever asked us to show proof that we have listed our aupair although I think it would be a reasonable thing to ask.
All in all, listing the aupair seems the proper thing to do.

Julie July 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Our insurance agent told us that the au pair does not need to be listed on our policy. He said as long as she has our permission to drive the car, she is covered. We live in IL, so maybe the rules are significantly different by state.
Our au pair did get in an accident her first week with us, but the damage was under our deductible so it didn’t go through our insurance. We had to pay the entire amount as she was “on duty” which I thought was a bit ridiculous since she was literally backing out of our driveway and hit a parked car…especially considering we have the sensors that beep if you get close to backing into something!

TX Mom July 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm

We always put our AP’s on our car insurance. In TX, I *think* you could argue they are “guest drivers.” We can insure them even if they don’t have a US license. In TX they can drive up to 1 year on the int’l license. We have USAA and have not found better rates. HOWEVER, one AP totalled the car and the next AP cost us about $1500 per year to insure! (She was young, 19, too.) I haven’t put our new AP on the insurance yet but I’m hoping her age (24) will make it cheaper. We really struggled about how much to expect the AP to contribute to the deductible. We maintain a high deductible to keep the rates low and put in the handbook that they need to be prepared to pay up to $500 for the deductible. I think we would take circumstances of the accident into consideration (was she negligent, etc.) to determine how much she should pay. In reality the last accident cost us about $7k out of pocket becasue we couldn’t find a suitable replacement car with the money from the value of the totalled car. (Plus I spent my entire 2 week Holiday vacation used car shopping. :-p.) It was a good teaching moment for our AP and kids!

Anonymous July 17, 2009 at 3:36 pm

We have Geico, and they required us to put our AP on our policy (in Colorado). It didn’t cost much – $15 a month extra.

Anonymous July 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm

We have an ext. au pair so the fact that she had been driving already for a year in the US, saved $ on the insurance.

Amy July 17, 2009 at 4:44 pm

I can’t imagine not putting our aupair on the insurance. The cost is minimal compared to what it could potentially cost if there was an accident, particularly if there was personal injury.

Darthastewart July 18, 2009 at 10:36 am

We do put the au-pair on the insurance policy. I don’t want to ever give the agency any reason whatsoever to deny a claim. We also make sure we have higher limits, along with an umbrella policy. Unfortunately, in today’s litigious society, if the au-pair were to have an accident, the other driver is likely to come after me, the agency, and maybe eventually the au-pair. They’re going to go where they think the money is, and if you can afford an au-pair, many people are going to perceive you as having that money.

In this case, I think an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

A-Mom-ymous July 18, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Our state has the same “anyone who has permission to drive your car is covered” policy, and the agent sort of said the same thing, that if she’s living here we should think about putting her name on it. But no actual reason to do so, except they were looking for more income. So we don’t. But that doesn’t mean she “isn’t on our insurance”… she is covered by it, but named on it. I ask this question every time I call the insurer, just to be sure I get a consistent answer, and I write down their names!
I’d be hesitant to actually make a claim on the insurance anyway, unless it were a catastrophic kind of thing instead of the usual “scratch n’ dent” that we get. Yes, this adds up. We are about to spend about 1,000 on dents and paint from parking problems. The scrapes our APs have gotten into have usually been parking in an urban setting. But that’s in several years of AP’ing. We will have her kick in a lot for this!

Elana Kahn July 19, 2009 at 2:26 pm

We’re not putting our AP on our policy because we just don’t want her driving our cars, period. We’ll be happy to take her anywhere she needs to go, or she can easily catch the bus or subway. We just don’t have the extra money for it, and our AP hasn’t had her license for very long. Just not worth it for us.

PA Mom July 20, 2009 at 7:03 am

Yes it costs more but we always add our APs as the driver on our 3rd car (my old minivan). With the under 7500 mi a year rating – it’s not too bad but just a cost of having an AP. If you have a live in of any age you need to add them here in PA. Happily you can add them with a foreign license. Yes older is cheaper but we love the current AP who is young and the trade off (a few hundred dollars over the year) isn’t worth picking someone on age alone – we’d have missed out on a great AP! Really the protection is all for the family – cars are expensive to replace in a real accident, your kids could be in that car why risk a question with the insurance company over coverage, there is no fault in this state so being insured just makes sense – what if the other guy is at fault but has no insurance (welcome to PA). Sometimes being penny-wise is really pound foolish. As for not driving the family car – not realistic in suburban PA. But unlike some families where the AP has access to the mom’s BMW SUV, our AP happily lives with a 1999 Totoya Sienna. And it’s irreplaceable.

D July 21, 2009 at 9:44 am

If you have 3 cars & an au pair that drives most insurance companies will require the au pair insured due to their rules The reason being is that 3 cars & 3 drivers means everyone is a primary driver of a “a car” in the home. We always insure our au pairs without question…we have 3 cars.

Now, if you have 2 cars, thats where it becomes grey area. As obviously each parent is a primary driver & the au pair is the guest driver. But yet, not insuring the au pair can lead to a disaster….potentially. If there is a big law suit, or insurance company dragging their feet….grey area could be a nightmare. In this country, not only do you NEED insurance for everyone, you should also have an umbrella policy as well. 1 really bad car accident….is not a time to figure that out & sort thru the pointing fingers. Young foreign drivers…..without a doubt, need this extra safety net, its too risky.

As a family…..we cover the insurance $90 a month no problem, in exchange the au pair needs to be accountible too at a minimum $500 when the accident is during her personal time (if that is the deductible).

Our au pair is a good driver. However, she has been in 3 car accidents during here year with us. 2 of her own & 1 riding with another au pair. She had to pay $500 each of her accidents as it was on her own personal time so totaling $1000. (deductible costs) May sound rough for the au pair….but thats insurance deductibles & how it is here. We all know when you step into the car as an adult you accept responsiblity, thats life. Sadly in this country, it’s expensive to drive & you have to be willing to pay the insurance to cover accidents……..the deductible etc etc Otherwise you or your au pair shouldn’t be driving when without it. Period.

Insurance rates are better if they have a drivers license. :) ITL is best during the first 30 days. Honestly, though….. If they can’t pass the driving license in your state or have the desire to honor your requests, then they shouldn’t be driving anyway.

anonmom September 21, 2009 at 3:00 pm

if we had to pay extra insurance for the au pair, there is no way we could have her drive. Our state is one of the highest insurance costs states. The car is insured, if your mom comes over abnd uses the car, and gets into an accident, the car is insured. Likewise with the au pair. PS- never ask the insurance company- they will tell you to pay extra to insure.

NoVA Host Mom September 25, 2009 at 8:22 am

A little late, but…
No, our AP is not on our policy. However, we do not have an AP who drives. Our daughter is only 12 months old, and my husband and I have the type of schedule that allows us to provide rides to the park for a scheduled playdate and we handle all appointments. Our neighborhood is on a major bus route which goes to the regional subway system, so we use that for getting the AP to and from school.

Our LCC reminded me that we would have to provide the AP with insurance if we were to get a driving AP (even if we never allowed her to drive for her duties for us, and still wanted her to not take the car to school), so for now, at least until we want and are ready for an AP to drive for her work duties, we will not be looking for or wanting a driving AP. Sorry, but I just cannot stomach putting our car at risk just so an out-of-country driver can go shopping with friends. The expense of trying to replace the car would be too great (it’s our older, 3rd car, but we still use it pretty regularly and the cost of insurance would not cover the cost of replacement).

But when we do, the AP will need to get her local state license and demonstrate to us (in a series of driving tests/experiences) that she is a safe driver before we would allow her to use any of our cars. Only after she has passed and proven her responsibility with driving in our area would we place her on the insurance.

Marg December 4, 2009 at 2:15 am

The way our insurance agent explained the “guest driver” policy to me was that if I had my out of state father drive my kids to a soccer game in my car, he would be covered under my policy. But if I allowed my 19 year old child who lived in my home to drive my car, he would not be covered on my policy unless he was a listed driver — not necessarily a primary driver, but a listed driver. So, under the same logic, if I allowed my au pair’s boyfriend who was visiting from overseas to drive my car, he would be covered. But if I had a 19 year old girl living in my home for a year, if she were going to have regular (e.g., more than a couple times during the year) access to the car, the insurance company would not cover any claims arising from her accidents unless she was a listed driver. They explained that young people are statistically more likely to get in accidents, and if insurance companies are going to assume to risk for these accidents, they should be compensated through premiums. I’d much rather pay a $100/mo premium increase than a $1m tort suit for an au pair who ran someone over.

Karin Six May 13, 2010 at 11:21 am

I am wondering if different auto insurers have different policies regarding an au pair? I would like to provide more information to my host families about this. Can you list some of the insurers that you have had no issues with and those who you have? For instance, is Wawanesa different than most other auto insurers as they are stricter with their requirements than most?

Anonymous November 18, 2010 at 1:38 pm

We have Erie Insurance. They explained “guest driver” the same way and it makes sense. We haven’t had any accidents with our au pairs, but we do pay mightily to have them on the policy and were told if they were to theoretically have an accident our premium will shoot up about 30 percent.

Richard November 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm

We paid for each of our AuPairs to get US driving licenses and put them on our policy. We have had four accidents in eighteen months caused by AuPairs living with us. This has included a hit and run, backing one of our cars into the other, and the most recent DUI with second degree assault. Each AuPair has been a named driver on our policy and after starting with a ten year no claims discount, our insurance in now through the roof. All I can say is thank goodness that the last accident was not on our time as you could be ‘vicariously liable’ for the action or misaction of your employee. So, any damage lawsuit claim beyond your policy maximum you could be responsible for – goodbye savings, house etc. as with a serious injury, property damage, law suit this rapidly adds up. I would not recommend taking responsibility for any AuPair’s driving actions. DO NOT TRUST YOUR AUPAIR TO DRIVE YOUR CAR! DO NOT TRUST YOUR AUPAIR AGENCY TO CONDUCT EVEN REMOTELY ADEQUATE BACKGROUND CHECKS ON YOUR AUPAIR BACKGROUND!

Taking a Computer Lunch November 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm

I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience. We’ve only had one incident in 9 1/2 years, and that being 1 of 2 APs who clearly didn’t have a clue how to drive (AP #1 just got lucky, I guess – she also had a confident personality). We have a car that is nearly dedicated for AP use and it is nearly pristine after 5 years (I’m probably jinxing myself now, aren’t I?). Our APs tend to care for it as if it were their own (unlike the minivan, which has become a suburban pin-cushion — mainly on HD’s and my time).

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