Who Pays For the Au Pair’s Car Insurance?

by cv harquail on February 24, 2012

You do.

Car insurance is one of the many ‘other’ costs that host parents incur when they have an au pair.


Host parents who need the au pair to drive a car as part of his or her work duties obviously pay for the car insurance, just as they pay for the gas and for the tuition at the Music & Me class.

Host parents who offer access to a car as part of the perks of being with the host family (and, frankly, as a way to let an au pair maintain an independent social life) also pay for car insurance.

Offering an au pair the use of a car without her or him being insured to drive it is like offering the au pair a car with only three wheels.

Your au pair can’t drive legally in a car with three wheels and your au pair can’t drive legally in your family car without insurance.

If the Au Pair’s Driving Record Increases Your Costs

The only time it’s appropriate for an au pair to pay for part of the car insurance is if that au pair has had an accident that has caused the insurance premium to rise during that au pair’s year with you. Then, it seems fair that the au pair would pay the incremental additional cost.

For example, if the insurance for the au pair had been $300 and rose to $500 after a fender-bender, it would be fair to have the au pair pay the additional $200.

Because the car insurance premium is one of those ‘other’ costs, it’s usually only something the host parents are aware of. That’s too bad, because the ability to drive a car that is insured is a real perk, and a privilege, that most host parents want their au pairs to appreciate.

Discuss the full costs of your au pair’s driving privileges with your au pair.

When you sit down with your au pair to talk over car rules, driving expectations, and family car managment, this can be a good time to share with your au pair a breakout of the ‘other’ costs involved in having him or her use the car. You might mention the costs of additional insurance, additional wear and tear (which can often be shared in a cost per mile figure), and depreciation in value as the mileage is racked up by late night drives from one Starbucks to another.

You can also use this time to discuss some of the other ‘other’ costs of providing a car for your au pair, including the extra effort it might take to corordinate the schedules of several drivers, what a drag it is when the car is parked in the wrong place, and your general worries about your au pair’s saftey in the car.

The point is not to make the au pair feel guilty about being a burden or costing you money  — so don’t lay it on too think. And, be sure that if you *do* harbor any resentment about these extra costs, you deal with that resentment before you talk with your au pair.

Driving is a privilege. That’s certainly true. But it’s only a privilege when you provide your au pair with a safe, legal, and insured car to drive.

Insuring my au pair on my car insurance increases my premium by ~$300/year. Does the au pair pay or the host family? She will be driving the children as part of her work week but will also have access to use the car for pleasure. What do you think? ~ MGMom

See also:

Auto Insurance: Is your AP on your policy?
Using Your Car is a Privilege, not an Entitlement: Best practices
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. Period.

Image: What’s The Deductible? ??? Some rights reserved by 1f2frfbf on Flickr


AFHostMom February 24, 2012 at 8:47 am

Wow, $300 per year is actually a bargain. :) We currently don’t have an AP on our policy but our budget for AP car insurance (when she does get her license) is $100 a month. Which is almost what we pay for my husband and me, total.
Our handbook is very clear that we have clean driving records and that an accident is a serious issue for us. It also says that for an off-duty accident, AP would be responsible for the entire deductible ($500). I believe it says the same for an on-duty accident but that’s something we would discuss if it happened dependent on the circumstances. For what it’s worth, our LCC advises not to hold APs responsible for a deductible of more than $500.
Current AP needs to be able to drive the kids starting in the fall, and this weekend told me she was nervous about driving in the US. I told her the most important thing is for her to feel ready and not rushed, since she has time–and that if she didn’t feel ready in a few months, we would work together to get her there.

anonymous March 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm

You are military right? Do you use USAA? We do and it is only $8/month additional to add our AP to our insurance for our 2 cars. yes, $96/year to add her to the policy. We are in an expensive car insurance state, but USAA is significantly cheaper than any other option for HPs. AP is a bargain! AP is under 25 and does not have (and does not need) a state DL.

AFHostMom March 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm

yep, usaa. I don’t know why ours was so high–we’ll see how it is with the new ap.

massaupairmom March 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm

It seems to vary alot based on age. Our prior au pair, who was 20 on arrival, was 400 extra with USAA. Our arriving au pair, who is 24 and has been driving for 8 years, is 88/year.

HRHM February 24, 2012 at 9:38 am

Per CC, the AP cannot be held responsible for the deductible if the accident occurs while she was working. I’m pretty sure APC was the same way. As far as the dollar limit, CC allows 500, but APC only allows a 250 deductible.

Interestingly enough, although I know a lot of people think that their AP will be covered as an “incidental driver” by their insurance and don’t need to be added, when you go to file a claim and they find out that the AP lives with you, they will likely deny payment based on the fact that she is NOT an incidental driver but a full-time user of the car.

LuvCheetos February 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

We have APIA and I think the AP’s share of the deductible is limited to $250, which really is a lot of money for them. It’s more than a week’s salary. $500 is 2 and a half weeks’ salary. That is really a lot for an AP.

We’ve had 3 accidents by APs in the last 9 months. For two, we did not make insurance claims becuase either no other car was involved or there was no damage (one was no damage and the other has gutted the trade in value of our car and really pissed me off, but so be it). For the one we did claim, it was while Ap was on duty. We did not charge her for the deductible, but had a stern talk about it (and later rematched, partially because we thought AP was an inattentive driver). We explained that it cost us $500 and that the insurance could go up. Our insurance did not go up because we had a clean record (our company gives you a freebie). From what my insurance rep said, it sounds like once the AP who had the accident, ticket, etc. is off of your insurance, it should go back down. Our insurance company also told us that if she drives our cars regularly, she must be added as a driver, as PP above mentioned.

For our next AP, we are going with someone older, partially because of the inexperienced driver issue.

As for the expense of driving and the wear and tear, we now discuss this with AP. We have had 2 APs in a row that seemed to take use of the car for granted and put LOTS of miles on it. At first, we were kind and paying for all of the gas. Now we limit it, partially to discourage excessive use of the car — also because we feel like we are hemmoraging money having an AP. We fill the tank once every 2 weeks because that more than covers the gas used for work related duties. If it seems that AP has had to drive a lot for us or we have used the car more than a mile or two here and there, we will put extra gas in it. If AP and her friends want to go out every night, they can pay for the gas — just like I have to pay for it when I go out. Part of the AP year for these 19 year old girls should be them seeing what it is like to actually be an adult. If they want to be “adults” and go out partying all night, they need to understand that there are trade offs and it costs money.

AFHostMom February 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm

According to our LCC, from our meeting with her 2 weeks ago, APIA doesn’t “recommend” making the AP responsible for more than $500. I believe you can though–but they advise strongly against it because it is such a financial burden.

CaliHostMom February 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm

AFHostMom is correct about the APIA policy, I am pretty sure. APIA does not forbid you from charging the APs the full 500 but they strongly discourage it. I don’t believe the APIA rules mention anything at all about whether the AP is on duty or not.

Unfortunately, car accidents are just kind of part of the AP experience. Sad to say. You just have to consider yourself lucky if you get through a whole year without a fender bender. We have had so many APs over the years. Never a serious accident and never anyone injured in any way, but lots of dents, scrapes and fender benders. Most recently, my AP got in two minor accidents both completely her fault. The first one, we didn’t go to insurance. We handled privately and I paid the $500 and didn’t ask her to pay anything. The second time, it went to insurance and I made her pay the full $500 (at her own pace with a small weekly deduction to her pocket money and the offer, but not requirement, for her to earn a bit of extra cash by “bending-program-rules” with chores or babysitting). Why? Because I need to send a message that she needs to be more careful. How are you going to do that if they don’t help pay? Honestly, I don’t see the rationale for APs not having to pay a deductible if they are on duty when the accident happens. It’s almost like you’re saying it okay to crash the car if the kids are in it!

Taking a Computer Lunch February 25, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I think this is one of those, “Your mileage may vary.” 7 APs in 11 years – one had a car pulled out of ditch in a snowstorm (no damage done) and one managed to scrape our family van against another car backing out of a pull-in parking space (that and other issues cost us 6 weeks of lessons split 50-50 and when the police officer running the lessons told us she still didn’t have the skill to pass a driver’s test, we gave her the option of paying 100% or rematch – she paid for 10 weeks of lessons on her own dime). The 5 others – nary a problem.

Julie February 26, 2012 at 12:31 am

I disagree that car accidents are just part of the au pair program–ack! It does happen, just like it happens with everyone, but for me, driving is one of the most important qualifications. One of our au pairs backed one of our cars into the other, just breaking the back light. She paid for it, not a big deal. But if an au pair got into an accident–causing harm to the car or anyone, she’d be in rematch, no matter how much we love her. For a family who needs a driver, they need to get a driver–and accidents might happen, but they should never be considered a norm!

AFHostMom February 26, 2012 at 11:21 am

This is how I’ve always felt–I can’t stomach the thought of having to pay, and pay, and pay–to say nothing of having to worry, and worry, and worry. I’ve always considered a true accident a reason for rematch, and I don’t know if that’s normal or not. I guess it doesn’t matter–it’s normal for us.

AFHostMom February 26, 2012 at 11:28 am

Oh, as for the rationale for having her pay less or nothing on duty, it’s just the way my brain justifies things…if she has an accident in the course of executing her ap duties/doing her job, I would likely feel some culpability, depending on the situation. But our handbook doesn’t differentiate and we’ve never faced the situation–so I can’t say how we’d handle it. I hope I don’t ever have to find out.

StephinBoston February 24, 2012 at 11:42 am

Wow, $300, I wish it was that low! Current AP has almost 4 years of driving experience and we pay $1300 to insure her on a 10 year old Honda CRV.. It’s crazy! We’ve had 2 accidents in our 6 au pair years, first AP totaled the car (great start :-) ) and 4th AP had a minor fender bender. I’ve never charged them the deductible but I would if I felt they were irresponsible with the car. Some APs have put a lot more miles on the car but I make it clear that there is a cost to us and that they should share with their friends and they all have.

Bottom line is, if you need the AP to drive the kids or your live in a remote location, then you have to assume the cost of the car, the wear and tear, the insurance, the maintenance, it comes with the territory…

OpinionatedHM February 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

We were advised to add our aupair as a named driver. While a visitor may drive your car and be insured in case of an accident, someone who lives in your household full time must be named on the policy. We were also told that if we could get her insurer from her home country to send a letter of proof of a clean driving record that it would significantly decrease the cost of adding her. We were able to get this letter via fax and it did make a difference.

AFHostMom February 24, 2012 at 6:31 pm

another thing that lowers the cost of insuring an AP is having her/him get an American drivers license, which is required in many states anyway.
Having an AP who drives and who is not named on the HF’s insurance policy is a very, very risky move. It’s definitely worth the money to have her covered (and listed as a driver on the insurance card).
I think I have more issues with an AP driving than many HFs, judging by posts here. But as our kids get older, the driving becomes much more important.

Seattle Mom February 25, 2012 at 12:09 am

I’m in a bit of a pickle here because I didn’t do my homework before matching with my AP… (who I absolutely love, for the record)

We don’t have her on our insurance yet because she needs a WA state driver’s license. She needs to go and take the test as if she were never licensed to get a driver’s license.. I didn’t look into it before matching and didn’t realize this. If she were only from South Korea, Germany, or Austria it wouldn’t be an issue- for some reason those are the only 3 countries which have reciprocity with WA State. Not only that, but the WA State driver’s manual is in every frikking language (Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, etc) EXCEPT french, and our AP happens to be french. And the manual is like 109 pages in english, and there’s a written test for the license which I’m pretty sure *I* wouldn’t pass without some heavy studying. And our AP’s english is fine for getting around… but I don’t think she would pass the written driving test if she has to study for it in English. I told her she needs to get her license, but i didn’t give her a deadline and I don’t think she’s made any progress on it. And we need her to drive. WA state doesn’t require foreigners to get a state driver’s license as long as they have one from their home country and they are here for a year or less… but I guess she needs to have insurance, so de facto she needs to get a state driver’s license.

This feels like a bad jam to be in, and I don’t know what to do about it. AP is an excellent driver (safer than me in my sleep-deprived state, and she has a much better sense of direction). She is mature and responsible. She is a wonderful AP, we love having her here.

As it is, we don’t have much insurance on our car, just liability- both of our cars are over 10 years old and not worth a whole lot. But they work fine. So the whole deductible question is kinda moot for us anyway.

What would you do?

CaliHostMom February 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

You are stressing too much. She’ll pass. Have her study and make sure to schedule the appointment and give her a deadline. Definitely giver her a deadline and actually, from the sound of it, you probably need an incentive and a study plan. For example, when she earns the license, you will treat her to {x} (trip into the city, an Amazon gift card, movie tix, permission to drive into Seattle, whatever). For the study plan, tell her that on Wednesday night you will help her review chapter X of the booklet at the dinner table. Then you and your husband can quiz her. Plan a different chapter for each night. Trust me, it’ll be a good review for you guys anyway.

I’ve had APs fail the written test twice, but they always pass the 3rd time. Most pass the first time. Many of my past APs have taken the test in both English and German translation. The resounding consensus is that it is MUCH better to study in English and take the test in English because of the poor quality of the translation of the test and the booklet which results in questions that are unclear and don’t perfectly relate back to the study guide. This is for the California test.

Seattle Mom February 27, 2012 at 1:50 am

Thanks.. I think I do need to hold her feet to the fire on this one. I told her she needed to do it, but I didn’t give her a deadline or any incentives. If I had thought about this ahead of time I would have held back on off-duty car privileges until this was done, but it would be too ogre-like to take them back now. I’ll think of something good. Although I think if I just take the time to help her study that will be enough. And probably the reward of having a WA DL would be enough… she gets into stuff like that, she’s really big on “being American.”

OpinionatedHM February 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

My sister was in this situation with her second aupair. It all depends on how important it is that she drive. In my sister’s case, it was non-negotiable. The aupair had to be able to drive. She was surprised when her second aupair did not seem as motivated as the first had been to get her license. (Wouldn’t you think everyone would want the independance of being able to drive?) it became apparent that the second aupair was going to need some motivation, plus school start was fast approaching and the aupair would need her license to drive them to school. She was given two weeks to get her appointment scheduled to go take the test. On the day of the test, the aupair “overslept” and didnt make her appointment. It turns out the aupair was uncomfortable with the interstate driving she would be required to do and was scared to admit it because she knew she might have to rematch. No matter how great she was, if she couldn’t drive, she couldn’t fullfill her duties. My sister had to rematch. She ended up with a wonderful aupair who was a terrific driver. My sister was also able to give a positive referral for her departing aupair who rematched with a family that did not need someone to drive. Everyone got what they needed in the end. Sometimes its hard to make a change because it’s easier to accomodate what you have than face the difficulties of the unknown. But if it’s not meeting your needs, and there is nothing you can do to change it, you have to let it go to get what really works.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Check with your insurance company. Ours only requires that the AP has a social security number (of course the rates are lower with a US driving license).

Our motivator – we have a 40-page atlas of our greater metropolitan area. Our APs, once they have passed DH’s driving test may drive anywhere in that atlas. Period. We’ve had APs take the car to other states – once they had their U.S. license. The other motivator has been not to have to carry around the passport (although getting an ID card from the motor vehicle department circumvents this too).

If your AP is not motivated, then it’s time to have a chat to see what’s up. Our 1st AP was a reluctant driver, and it turned out that although she had owned a car in her native country, she had acquired her license the old-fashioned way – by giving money to the examiner to meet the deadline for applying to our AP agency. At that point in our lives we had the luxury of working with her until she could pass the test. Now that our kids are older, we’re too busy running around, and any AP who doesn’t pass DH’s test splits the costs of lessons 50-50.

For us, there is absolutely no extension year if the AP has not acquired her license by the 8th month when her paperwork comes in the mail.

DCMomof3 February 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm

My insurance gives the AP one month to get a state license. They will allow you to pay premiums beyond one month, but don’t guarantee the coverage.
Does your insurance require her to have a state license? If so, ask the insurance company how long she can drive on her international license and then clearly communicate that to her. You may need to provide that external motivation of the insurance company requirement combined with the fact that no insurance = no driving = no job in order to get her to study and pass the test.
We went through this same issue with an AP who got here not being required to drive when we lived in the middle of a city, but then we bought a new house where she would have to drive. I told her to study and take the test to get the US license, but I did not give a deadline. Looking back, I should have given the deadline and blamed it on the insurance company. Instead, I just got silently annoyed every weekend that she hung out with her new love interest instead of studying. She took the test twice but failed both times and we had to rematch because by that point we were clearly outside of our insurance company’s grace period for getting the US license. Looking back, I wish that I had been more direct about the amount of time that she would have and the substantial effort that it would take to get the license. I assumed that she would figure all of it out and do it out of her own motivation, but I assumed wrong.

DCMomof3 February 25, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I would also add that now that I need a driver, I will only look at countries that have reciprocity with Maryland where I live. For me, this means France and Germany. Otherwise, given the situation with my insurance company (and it seems to be the cheapest one out there for us) I would be going through the driver’s test issue every year which I do not want to do.

AFHostMom February 25, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Korea also has reciprocity with MD.

DCMomof3 February 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Thanks, I knew that there was one more country I did not think of!

Seattle Mom February 27, 2012 at 1:55 am

I think that is going to be a HUGE factor when we choose our next au pair. Hello, Germans & Austrians!

Seattle Mom February 27, 2012 at 1:53 am

We have 30 days too.. I haven’t got the clock ticking on that one but it would be a good motivator.

Dorsi February 25, 2012 at 2:39 am

Are you sure that you need to have her licensed in WA to be on your insurance? You could always look into a different insurance provider.

In any case, your LCC should be able to help you, and will know the general insurance policies.

Has she gotten her SSN yet? She WILL need that to be licensed in WA, and that is a few week process.

If she does need to be licensed, have her take a practice test. Her written english may be stronger than you think and the test isn’t that hard — all kinds of people pass it all the time.

Seattle Mom February 27, 2012 at 1:56 am

She has her SSN- we made her get that her first week. I think now that she’s been here a while inertia has set in.

I think there might be some insurance comnpanies that don’t require a US DL- that’s a possibility, we will look into that.

AFHostMom February 25, 2012 at 9:21 am

yep, our first AP did NOT have a US license and at that time there was no reciprocity between her country and our state (now there is)–and we had no problem insuring her. Just be prepared for it to cost more.
We’re only requiring our AP to get a local license because we want to be sure of her driving ability. If I had full confidence, I wouldn’t push it. Our state does have a 60 day deadline though, so that was a handy way for me to tell her when she needed to have her license.

southern host mom February 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

I would require that she take and pass the driver’s test. If she is driving your children, you have every right to set the bar high and expect that she rise to the challenge. In our state you may take the challenging written test multiple times until you pass. I know several APs who had to take it more than 3xs before they finally passed. Of course you will need to list her on your insurance as well– from a liability standpoint this is a must. But, from where I stand, passing the test is mandatory (regardless of state laws) because we take driving very seriously and AP should as well. If she is not studying, well give her a deadline (ie., we are taking you to DMV on x date, the test is challenging, it would be a good idea for you to study hard so you can pass, good luck…) She has already faced many challenges deciding to live in a foreign country for a year or more, this is just one of them (IMHO)..

MommyMia February 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I agree with the PP. With WA being close to Canada, you’d think they would include a French translation, but I guess Western Canada isn’t as French-speaking as further east. Could you perhaps find a college student or teacher who speaks French to help with translating the manual as she studies. That’s a tough one – we found it odd that CA had a German translation of our manual, which our first AP thought was hilarious; all our German APs had excellent English, but passed the first time with just a few missed questions. And they were overall our best drivers, although one was from a tiny village and hadn’t had any multi-lane highway experience, but she learned quickly!

momto2 February 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

Our state DMV (VA) offers the the driver’s manual and test in English and Spanish only. We have hosted a few Brazilian APs who studied in Spanish because much of the vocabulary was similar to Portuguese. Perhaps if your AP studied the manuals in a similar language, (Spanish, Portuguese or Italian), it could help, since all are derived from Latin, and many verbs and terms would be very similar. Our DMV also permits use of a dictionary during the exam, so the ones who took the test in English brought their English-Portuguese dictionaries with them which was helpful.

Our current AP was a bit unmotivated to take the test, too, and her grace period with our insurance expired, so we didn’t feel ogre-like when we told her that she could no longer take the car for personal use, since the insurance would no longer cover her until she got a license. Instead of taking the test right away, she just mooched rides off other APs, so this didn’t serve as the motivational push that we had hoped it would!!

We ended up using her class registration as incentive. We told her we would be happy to sign her up for her English class once she got a license, since we were not going to drive her to class, and we did not expect other HF’s APs to drive ours to school. She ended up getting her license within 3 weeks after that.

massaupairmom February 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm

My insurance company charges me about $400 per year to add my (female) au pairs to my policy. I was speaking to someone recently who told me she pays $3,000 per year to insure her son. He has been driving for one year and has had one accident. Still, it made me realize that the cost of insuring a male au pair might be significantly higher than insuring a female au pair. It is something I will look into if we are ever considering a male au pair.

Lynda February 27, 2012 at 3:37 am

We make it very clear during the contract negotiation stage that if our Aupair has an accident that is her fault she pays the excess. This can be up to $1200.00 our aupairs think twice before using our car for non work related events.

NoVA Host Mom February 27, 2012 at 11:56 pm

We recently changed insurance companies and thank goodness we did! Saved us hundreds of dollars on the AP added to the policy. One month later, we got to find out how nice the new policy is (unfortunately).

Our APs are not allowed to use the car until she is licensed in our state, has shown us (through driving with us) that she is a responsible and careful driver (passing the state test is not enough, since we are painfully aware that any fool can seem to do that and it is not a promise of actual skill or thought — sorry, but the crashes I have to investigate are reminders that some people really do forget which one is the gas pedal), and she is added to the auto insurance. Period. And any accident is the cost of the deductible ($500). Because we have 3 cars (and my husband and I really do use all three, since whoever has the kids has the minivan and we still need to drive to work ourselves), and with the AP we have 3 drivers, we had to attach her to one of the cars. We just chose the “cheapest” car (to insure).

Our current AP had a relatively minor crash with a parked car in the school parking lot which cost nearly $1,000 just to our car (what I thought were minor scratches and a small dent). I cannot imagine what the cost to the other car was, which will need a new bumper entirely. In speaking with our agent, when she returns home and a new AP is put on the policy, the increase felt from current AP’s crash will disappear, leaving new AP with a clean insurance slate. We are not having her pay for the increase in insurance costs, but if I felt the crash was caused through negligence or irresponsible behavior, I would certainly consider that as an option.

We also make sure they understand from the beginning that driving is a perk and if we feel they are unsafe, not only will they lose the ability to use it off duty, but they will likely be looking at rematch as well. We do not have time to mess around with those sorts of things, so we would not likely be trying to nurse along a poor driver for a few months, trying this and that driving school. It’s just something we figured out a while back that we are not willing to bend on. It is too necessary for the care of the kids (and getting them to school).

Question though: APIA is $500 deductible allowed (no restrictions), CC is $500 but only off-duty, anyone want to share what APC is? I find the differences interesting.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm

I want to point out that the insured only pays a deductible when the insured is at fault AND makes a claim for a repair on the insured’s car. When AP #5 scraped the car next to us backing out of a pull-in parking space (a major clue that she did not know how to drive despite having a license from her country), we did not file a claim on our car (a suburban pin cushion), so there was no deductible to pay. (But yes, a paint job is enormously expensive.)

Likewise, when another driver rear-ended me (I was stopped to let pedestrians pass and the shocked look on their faces told me to take my foot off the brake), I did not file a claim against her insurance company for a small dent to my fender. Knowing that the driver at fault was going to pay through the nose for the bashed in front and missing headlight on her rental car was enough payment for me.

The bottom line – our AP felt relieved that there was no deductible that she had to pay. What she didn’t realize is that we greatly restricted her driving for the rest of the year. She ended up paying 50% of the cost of driving lessons for weeks until she drove well enough for DH to permit her to drive the children around (during which time I grit my teeth at time lost). She would have been gone in a NY minute, if it weren’t for the Venn diagram of special needs willing APs in rematch who held driver’s licenses at all was minute – even in our large agency.

NoVA Host Mom February 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Sorry, I probably forgot to mention that first part. Yeah, if we weren’t getting it fixed, it would be less of a thing (this is the “good” car, such as it is). I am certain the damage to and on my car was unreported to us by AP3, as I tracked when things happened. But, since we were not going to deal with it and she only drove it without the kids, I was less phased. We had bigger fish to fry with that one. But I still have a rear window that won’t go down and a back liftgate which won’t open at all. *sigh* Maybe one day…

Taking a Computer Lunch February 29, 2012 at 8:19 am

The irony for me, is that the AP is the “good” car – the 6 APs who have driven it have taken excellent care of it. We bought a low-end subcompact brand new ages ago and it still looks good and runs well. I have found that most people, if they feel vested in something, will care for it.

On the other hand, DH wrapped the minivan around a stanchion protecting a gas pump and it’s been going downhill since. We intend to drive it into the ground, so we’re not looking to maintain resale value. The Camel, our special needs child, can ride safely only in the minivan (she’s big enough to require a custom car seat), so the APs do tend to drive it on weekdays more than we.

DarthaStewart February 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm

APC limits it to $250. But it doesn’t matter whether they are on or off duty.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm

As having an AP pay the deductible has not come up for me, but having to pay speeding/read light tickets has, I’d say driver intent plays a large roll in what I expect.

I have had APs get speeding tickets from cameras placed on 4-lane divided roads where the speed limit varies considerably from mile to mile. I consider cameras, which are sometimes mobile, as traps. They are difficult for newly arrived APs who have to take in a lot of information that is different, and may miss the subtle “photo enforced” sign or not be aware that the white strip across the road is a photo zone. If they’re driving the kids, and their speed is not egregious, then I’ll pick up the tab without flinching. However, I will point it out to the my AP and discuss it.

On the other hand, running a red light and getting caught by a red light camera garners no sympathy from me – especially if my kids are in the car.

Since all the cars in the household are in my name, I’m the one who sees the tickets first. It usually only takes one lecture to convince APs to change their driving behavior (we’ll see what happens next year when kid #2 goes to a school 30-40 minutes from our home).

NoVA Host Mom March 2, 2012 at 12:29 am

I have that one beat. Try getting phone calls from coworkers who have now watched your car pass them (in their marked police car). Or hearing from neighboring jurisdictions a few weeks later. Yeah. Not with our current, but it’s why I might be a bit less inclined to forgive too many “oopsies” with our cars around here any more. Once should be a lesson. Multiple times will now get the car taken away. *sigh*

But you are right. Driver Intent and pattern of behavior is a huge factor in how each incident or series of incidents will be handled. No question. So I try to address each as their own person and with that balance in mind.

LuvCheetos March 2, 2012 at 9:24 am

Yep. How about after rematching (partially because of driving) and having your mail carrier tell you how everyone in your neighborhood would complain to him about your AP speeding through the neighborhood filled with small children (and having your next door neighbors say they though old AP had mental problems, but that’s another issue).

I don’t know what the answer is to the driving thing. We have had only Germans, who are supposed to be great drivers (and our first one was), yet with the last 2 we’ve had 3 accidents and a run stop sign in the past year. They seemed like safe drivers when we drove with them. I think the first one was inattentive and the second one probably can’t handle the SUV we have her drive (although she also had a minor accident with her prior host family, but blamed it on the fact that the AP car was old and the brakes weren’t good). We intended to trade it on for a smaller car, but she begged us not to because she loves it so much. Now, she has trashed it so either we will get next to nothing in trade in or we’ll have to pay a fortune to fix it before trading it in.

Returning HM March 2, 2012 at 4:25 pm

The speed cameras+changing-speed-for-no-reason-except-to-trap-people in this region (I’m assuming you live in Mont Co MD too) are so bad that the only way all of us in our household – AP plus HPs – avoid getting tickets is that our DS is completely obsessed with them and points them out, plus the required speeds, on every route. It’s absolutely the only time I appreciate my child’s (mild) OCD. It has definitely prevented many a random ticket in the mail!

LuvCheetos March 2, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Sooooo my AP just texted me. She got in ANOTHER car accident. She has had 2 since she joined us in October and one with her previous host family (which she was with from July through October). Neither has been serious, but her first one damaged our car, as I discussed above. OUr previous AP had 2 as well, so my poor car has been in 4 accidents since last May. We rematched with the last one, partially because of inattentive driving. What do we do? I’m not sure I can rematch again, but I’m going to lose it if she has another accident!!!!! Is it fair to take away her personal driving privileges and only allow her to drive for work and school?

Taking a Computer Lunch March 2, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I assume you need a driver. At this point, I’d tell her that her options are rematch or pay for driving lessons. Does she have a US license at this point? If not, then I’d advise no personal driving at all until she gets one. Is their public transportation to get her to her own classes? If so, then she may use it. Three accidents in 5 months is a lot (as a HP who’s only had 2 in 11 years). It sounds like you have a young, inexperience driver (and if I recall she’s German – but it means nothing if she didn’t practice, practice, practice before she came to the U.S.).

My guess is that she will be anticipating some sort of punishment.

If you don’t need her to drive your kids, then just suspend her privileges altogether.

Lonestarstate November 28, 2012 at 3:14 am

I think it is more than fair to limit her driving to only work and school. I would be upset too.

LuvCheetos March 3, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Yes, she’s German, so was my last AP who also got in 2 accidents. So much for the Germans being great drivers! I think these young girls are just inexperienced drivers. We had a 21 year old German who was a fabulous driver. The extra 2 years of experience probable makes a big difference.

We do need a driver. She drives my kids to their activities (which are fairly close to home). She does have a US (Virginia) license. Her classes are at Georgetown (which is in DC). She could take metro but she has to then catch a shuttle bus and it would probably take her an hour instead of 20 minutes. I don’t know. We actually did let her take the car out tonight (I couldn’t stand to have her sulking around the house).

Our LCC says APIA allows us to hold her responsible for up to $500. I thought it was $250, but apparently it’s not. I’m not sure we’ll do that, but I told her tonight that we probably would. She paid nothing for the last accident, which cause probably $2K in damage to our car — and now it has a very low trade in value because we haven’t fixed it and we either have to fix it or we won’t get much for the new car we were planning to buy.

Our LCC says she would also support rematch if we wanted it. I’m reluctant to rematch. She only has 4 months left, so she would go home because she wouldn’t get a match. That seems harsh when her mother and sister have booked tickets to come visit and she has a trip booked for her 13th month. She seemed a little snippy when I said she may be responsible for $500, but really, she’s kind of lucky we’re not just sending her home. She’s legitimately sorry, though, I think.

I’m very torn. The accident wasn’t that bad, but the guy she hit will need a new bumper. Also, her description doesn’t really match the damage, but it is hard to get a straight story out of these girls sometimes. I’m sure I’ll be a wimp about it and then I’ll be resentful.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 3, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Don’t be a wimp about it. If it helps, then call a meeting with your LCC and your AP. Before you sit at the table decide what you want. If she’s had 3 accidents and you’re not immediately going into to rematch, then perhaps it would help her to hear how lucky she is from the LCC.

The $500 may teach her to be more cautious – if she has it saved, then take it – otherwise offer her an installment plan. Sit down in front of the LCC and discuss what is reasonable. Don’t let her spread the payments out too far – obviously you’re going to need the money to pay for what is not covered by the deductible.

Personally, I would restrict driving privileges. 1) No personal driving until the $500 is paid (if you want to permit her to drive to classes, then I recommend that you make it directly there and back) and 2) No friends in the car at all for the rest of her year, and 3) No cell phone use in the car at all. If you are in charge of her cell phone, then get a log of calls. And, after the $500 is paid back, I would personally put a curfew on the car – if it’s back by 11, then she’s unlikely to use it to go clubbing (when she’ll want to have friends in the car).

I’ve only had one AP with whom DH and I repeatedly had to have conversations about driving (I went back through my email log – looking for something else – and realized that DH and I were exchanging emails over her driving 8 1/2 months into her stay – including after we told her we wouldn’t extend with her).

Driving well and driving to survive take practice. It doesn’t matter how hard it is to get a license – it’s just the start of obtaining driving skills.

If you live in the Metro DC area, then I recommend “I Drive Smart.” It’s run by off-duty policy officers, and one has the option to purchase a 2-hour assessment package. At the end of the assessment, the officer will tell you where the driver needs work (e.g. if your AP rear-ended someone because she’s an inattentive driver or she has difficulty judging speed and distance).

Personally, it sounds as though you have been through a lot of driving issues with this AP – she must be good if you’re willing to give her 4 more months. Have your LCC help her to understand that she can accept your conditions, or lose her down payment on her 13th month and go home. She doesn’t have a right to be sulky – nor does she have the right to make you feel guilty about taking away privileges.

Personally, I would look her in the eye, and say that you will be checking, and if she breaks the new rules, you will be going into rematch right there and then. No exceptions.

LuvCheetos March 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Thanks, TACL!!!! Those are good recommendations! We do like her for the most part. Our kids like her and there was a lot of turmoil with the previous AP, so I’d rather stick it out if we can. I’m really on the fence as to whether we do the AP program again when she leaves. I have to decide soon, though, because it’s time to start looking already.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 4, 2012 at 8:04 am

Some questions I have found useful to sort out driving experience is to ask where she drives, how often, is it city or country, who is in the car with her, and most importantly – “Do you enjoy driving?”

Our first AP answered, when we simply asked, “Do you know how to drive,” – “I’ve owned a car for two years.” It was true that she had owned a car, but she did not know how to drive safely! Now, the driving portion of our telephone interview takes about 10 minutes. It will change next year, as the youngest HK is going to a school 30 minutes from our home – and no bus transportation is provided!

Hula Gal March 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Seems to me there is lots of coddling on the part of the host parents with their au pairs and driving. This is what I recommend and have done myself and it works:
1. require your AP get a license. Doesn’t matter if the law requires it or your insurance company. These are your kids and your car she is driving.
2. Set a deadline and consequences if she does not get the license. Ours was 3 months after they arrived and if they did not get the license they had to stop driving until they did. We checked to be sure their driving was acceptable before we let them drive the car when they first arrived.
3. Don’t offer incentives, set consequences. see above. These are not children, they are young adults responsible for taking care of your children. If they cannot be mature enough to get a license without a reward being offered, they are not mature enough to take care of your children.
4. More than one accident is a problem. Take the car privileges away for non-work use and make it clear in the handbook that this is your policy.
5. Nationality is not always an indicator of a good driver. Our Thai au pair was an excellent driver. Sometimes it comes down to confidence and personality.
6. If you are a new host parent, consider investing in a older used car instead of allowing the AP to drive a nicer car. Minor damage and wear and tear on the interior are inevitable and you will get resentful.
7. Get your au pair on your car insurance.
8. Make sure your handbook has very clear and explicit policies and expectations on car use, including gas expenses and a general explanation of how much you spend to maintain the car. We gave our au pair $25 a month for gas to cover what we estimated was the cost of driving our daughter around which was always more than what she actually used for work so there wouldn’t be any griping. Anything more than that she had to pay for.
9. consider having them get the oil changed (you pay) so they have some responsibility for maintaining the car.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 5, 2012 at 9:50 pm

1. We don’t do this, although in the last couple of years I have given the APs the 40-page street atlas to our greater metro area and said, “If you want to go past this, then get a US license.” Successful APs have driven to other states, including places 8+ hours from our house (but even before they drove one mile alone with the kids, they passed HD’s driving test first).

2. Our LCC’s bottom line – no AP may drive in her extension year without a US license. We require a driver, so no license, no extension. (Our state permits APs with a non-US license to drive during their first year. Our insurance company only requires a social security #.)

3. IMO this does not follow. What does follow is that the AP may not be a self-starter, so it’s good to pay attention to whether you need to tell her exactly what to do, or whether she will do what needs to be done. We’ve used the inability to attain a license by month 8 as a means to say goodbye to APs.

4. Agreed, but then out of 7 APs, only 2 have had any type of accident, and only 1 involved another car or any type of damage.

5. Agreed! Even the worst driver, if she is confident, will pick up skills more quickly than a mediocre driver who lacks self-confidence. But, at the end of the day, the only way anyone improves is with lots of practice.

6. Ironically, the AP car is newer and pristine when compared to our family car. Sometimes giving APs ownership of something nice means they work extra hard to take care of it.

7. Agreed

8. Agreed. Instead of giving our AP an allowance (because we’re supposed to pay for transportation to and from classes and cluster meetings), DH and I use her car for date night and tank it up each time. For the APs who are drivers it’s a drop in the bucket, for our current AP I think we fill it up more than she.

9. Absolutely! We pay, but they must take responsibility for time spent on oil changes, routine maintenance, flat tire repairs and car washes. To us, it’s the small price to pay for having a car (almost) always at their disposal.

10. If you have a dedicated AP car, then present it to each AP spotlessly clean, with a full tank of gas, and a couple of bucks worth of quarters in the ashtray for parking meters. Demand in your handbook that she leave it the way she received it.

sweetheart March 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm

well me and my host family had the same question as I am their very first au pair. My Lcc said that host families pay the car insurance but if we have an accident or we need to pay with somethin related to a car damage, we au pairs just have to pay $500 no matter how expensive the damage was…
so far I haven’t had any accident and I consider myself a good driver

Lonestarstate November 28, 2012 at 3:28 am

We are first time HP’s and are lucky to have a wonderful AP. She is studying for her license. I’m not sure how to set the “rules” as she has always been flexible to accommodate our last minute emergencies of needing care off the clock. She is extremely proactive, eager to help. I have no qualms about having her use my car off time, but I am concerned about the other AP’s who feed her their sense of entitlement. I do not want them using her to drive them all to off time excursions. How do I present this in a way where it’s not a slap in the face to her, but that I prefer have her AP friends use their cars as much as possible.

HRHM November 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm

There is a separate post on here http://aupairmom.com/dont-abuse-a-cluster-taxi/2010/08/26/celiaharquail/ It was full of great ideas on how to approach the situation.

Georgiapeach November 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Since we are moving, I wanted to change my screen name & pay homage to my new home state!

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