Why Have a Curfew on Your Car and not Your Au Pair?

by cv harquail on May 13, 2015

Some readers have wondered why a family might put a curfew on the au pair car, but not have a curfew on the au pair him/herself.

They point out that if au pairs are dependent on the au pair car for transportation during their time off, then having a curfew on the car is effectively the same as having a 3135550612_2a22298191_mcurfew on the au pairs themselves.

This merge of the car curfew into the Au Pair curfew is more true when the au pair has no other transportation options, no train, no Uber, no taxi,  to help him or her continue socializing even after the car has turned into a pumpkin.

The distinction between a curfew on the car and a curfew on the Au Pair is a slim one, but it’s very important.

We host parents see the car as an object, a piece of property. As owners of the car, we are financially responsible for them and our insurance holds us responsible for what happens with the car.

In contrast,  au pairs are young adults who are responsible and who need some independence  to enjoy their social lives. Obviously, we don’t “own” our au pairs, and we want to be less rather than more responsible for them – so that they can be responsible for themselves.

We host parents want to make room for our au pairs to make their own decisions about sleep, social life, and safety. Having the chance to make these decisions is part of what helps au pairs (and anyone) grow up.  Putting a curfew on an au pair herself or himself would be to treat the au pair more like a child/dependent then like an independent adult.

(We have a post coming up about au pair curfews… So stay tuned.)

Putting a curfew on the car is not a way of saying that the safety and maintenance of the car is more important to us than the safety of the au pair.

It’s not as though we want to protect the car, and we don’t care about protecting the car au pair. In fact, often having a curfew on the car is a way to protect the au pair.

Host parents put curfews on the car because:

  • We don’t want the car being driven in the middle of the night, when other drivers are less likely to be sober and safe.
  • We don’t want the car being driven at night, by an au pair who may have had more to drink than she or he realizes.
  • We don’t want the car to be away overnight because host families often need to use the car themselves the very next morning.
  •  We want to keep this expensive item out of situations where it might be damaged,  ( such as neighborhoods with lots of nightlife, unsafe neighborhoods, relatively empty parking lots.

Limiting the use of the car by having a curfew is one way to keep a lid on the wear and tear of the car itself.  And, having a curfew on the car is one way to reduce the likelihood that the host family would ever have to replace the car (or even rent a temporary replacement while the actual car was being repaired).

 Are there any other distinctions we should make about putting a curfew on the car versus a curfew on the au pair?

Share these in the comments, below.


TexasHM May 13, 2015 at 12:16 pm

One other reason I would add (as a HF that has a car curfew but no AP curfew) and that I just talked to our new AP about is situational avoidance in terms of causing AP/HF angst. Meaning all of the above plus if the AP gets a flat tire at 3am and DH comes to deal with it that is going to likely put her in an uncomfortable situation. If its midnight very different for DH than if it’s 3am (and HM). :) I guess this could be somewhat related to the last bullet about damage now that I reread it but I guess I am saying that last bullet through the APs eyes. Meaning if I know that it is a lot more likely that damage will happen (which AP would then be responsible for paying for) after midnight then why would I put her in the situation to have to deal with that? Same reason I didn’t give our new AP the $300 smartphone (gave her the $120 one) so that if she breaks or loses it (which ironically she cracked the screen yesterday) and has to replace it then its more palatable for her and us.

We do however, emphasize that if she is ever in trouble or uncomfortable to call us anytime for a ride day or night (and we have had two APs do just that and we are glad they did). That is a very different situation though than “me and my friends were out partying and I got a flat”.

We have flexed for our APs and allowed them many times to park the car at another APs house in our area to spend the night or stay out past curfew in our area for a special event (bday, concert, etc) but making it a free for all on the car just isn’t an option that is tolerable to us as a family so we don’t and we are very clear in matching about this and our APs honestly haven’t had issues getting rides for long nights out downtown.

Momto4 May 14, 2015 at 8:55 pm

THIS!!!!!! For this reason I have also thought of having a “distance limit” since we have just once car that we all share so if get a flat 45 miles from home, that’s a much bigger issue than if she is in town. Even worse if she is 45 miles away at 3am.

Host Mom in Paradise May 13, 2015 at 1:03 pm

We just have the one car, and AP gets to use it on weekdays (I take the bus to and from work). Weekends, however, AP is off and I’m the one taking my kid around to birthday parties, extracurriculars, ice cream, parks — and I need the car first thing in the morning. So, car needs to be home before I’m up. It’s not time-based curfew but a courtesy-based one.

I’m not sure what we’d do if something happened to the car (when it’s with AP) in the middle of the night. I surely can’t leave my kid to go pick up AP and wait for roadside assistance, so off the top of my head, I’d tell her to Uber home and we’d deal with it in the morning. I’d likely have to take a day off work.

Do you folks get AAA or other roadside assistance for the vehicle and add AP?

Taking a Computer Lunch May 13, 2015 at 1:29 pm

AAA is attached to the person, not the vehicle (works great if you’re renting – or have more than one car, too). We only acquired it for one AP, the one that slammed into the side of a Hummer after midnight on her 19th birthday (alcohol was not a factor). She was also the ONLY AP in the 15 years we have hosted to which we put a curfew on the car. It was her 2nd distracted driving incident (the first was blowing past a school bus while it flashed red lights – witnessed by a friend). We decided that with 2 distracted driving incidents under her belt in less than 2 months that we had 2 choices: a) go into rematch or b) continue to host her, but the car had to be home by 10 pm (8 hours before her shift). While we couldn’t force her to get 8 hours of sleep, we could make sure she wasn’t driving the car when she was too sleepy to pay attention.

Every other AP has taken 100% responsibility for the car – including getting it pulled out of a snowbank in the middle of the night. In fact the only reason why the insurance company didn’t total the car is that it was kept in impeccable condition by her predecessors who understand that having 24-hour access to a vehicle was a privilege.

hOstCDmom May 13, 2015 at 1:32 pm

If HP have/has AAA, adding an AP only cost us $28/year (New England area). I think it was double that for the premium option with a larger free towing radius. But either of those is a pretty small price to pay for a solution for when the AP + car breakdown and the HP are/is at home w/o a car! (we have 2 cars, but HM and AP share a car, so if AP is out w/ it, say at classes or at the mall, and it gets a flat, then I have no car to go pick her up in!)

Mimi May 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Our insurance (USAA) has roadside built in. The times the APs have needed it (slid into snowbank, hit a deer, double flat tire on a granite curb, radiator leak/overheating, etc.) they have totally blanked on what to do. So they call us and we have stayed on the phone with them until help has arrived and they were situated if we weren’t able to go meet them.

hOstCDmom May 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Really? USAA has roadside built in? Is this a standard thing on all policies? We have USAA and I never knew that! I clearly need to check this out/ learn more!!

WarmStateMomma May 13, 2015 at 4:39 pm


Mimi May 13, 2015 at 4:40 pm

I’m pretty sure it’s part of our policy, but it might be a surcharge or add-on. I think they contract out to local shops for services which even include delivering gasoline. :)

Seattle Mom May 14, 2015 at 5:16 pm

American Express also has roadside assistance for cardholders. I have an American Express pre-paid reloadable debit card for my au pair (Serve) and it has roadside assistance. There’s a phone number on the back.

We’ve never had to use it (knock on wood) but it’s good to have.

WarmStateMomma May 13, 2015 at 2:21 pm

A large number of APs in my city don’t drive. If my AP is the only one in the group that can drive, she will be driving all over town doing the drop offs and pick ups for everyone. I have a pretty clear memory of the shenanigans that occurred when a pack of new/non-drivers piled into a car in high school, even with no alcohol involved. I recall it being significantly more risky the later we out.

The AP won’t be paying for the accident beyond $250 or so and she won’t be the one footing the bill for the insurance she raised for the next few years. She won’t be paying me the difference when I sell the car for less money because it has an accident history. Each of my APs has believed that the deductible is the only cost of an accident, which obviously isn’t accurate.

I do think an AP who is socializing has options – getting a ride with a friend you are socializing with or spend the night at that friend’s house. I’ve let the car stay out all night when a sleepover was involved, mostly to keep it off the streets late at night.

Mimi May 13, 2015 at 4:32 pm

We provide a car for exclusive use by the AP because driving is necessary as we live in a rural area. We don’t have a curfew for the car, but we do have rules regarding use that we talk about during matching and go over very carefully during their orientation. We specifically indicate that as long as the AP proves to be a safe and careful driver, they’re welcome to use the AP car for personal use but we reserve the right to restrict car use if we feel driving conditions are not safe (for various reasons). It is a privilege and we give them a general idea about how much insuring and repairing the cars costs so they understand that carelessness with the car can have expensive consequences, even on an older model car.

We require a general idea of where the car is being used and where it will be parked if out overnight. We also talk about carpooling with other APs so that our APs don’t become the group chauffer and we discuss driving in certain areas in our locale and some of the areas they should be wary of. The only AP who wasn’t totally on board with our admonition about parking in a certain locale had the car towed and had to pay dearly to retrieve it (after enduring the panic of thinking it had been stolen). We share this story as a lesson learned and when talking about car use.

Amelie May 13, 2015 at 9:56 pm

I was very happy I didn’t have to drive as part of my duties and I could go everywhere by bus and metro during my free tie (I was in Georgetown, in DC). Driving is such a big responsability, and most people don’t see it that way.

Lynne May 13, 2015 at 10:49 pm

Very glad to read the comments. We have always had a curfew on our car and it makes it difficult for our au pair to understand because many of their friends don’t seem to have curfews and are out with the vehicles until 630 in the morning. Also the last two au pairs seem to have no desire in meeting other au pairs in our area but want to travel to DC every weekend to stay out all night. I have the curfew on the car for all of the reasons stated. It’s hard when they aren’t making friends close to home who could take turns driving.

AuPair Paris May 14, 2015 at 6:25 am

One of my friends here imposed his own curfew on the car. He was a pretty responsible guy, but liked a drink – and I think, although everywhere has a cultural taboo on drink driving, in England where we’re both from, it was really *huge*. The PSAs about it were terrifying when we were kids, and I don’t know *anyone* who would drive after even a little bit of alcohol. Or anyone who would be friends with anyone who would. It is really, really looked down upon.

Here it is as well, but not to the same extent. My former (abusive) HF tried to drive home after a dinner with about a bottle of champagne each once – saying it was just around the corner with hardly any cars on the road! I had to pick up the four year old and firmly but politely say I was uncomfortable, and was walking the kids home. (It… did not improve relations…)

In any case my friend’s HPs lived a little way out, and always encouraged him to take the car if he was “only” going to have a few drinks… After a while he just said “I can’t imagine going out in the evening and not drinking *something*, so I just won’t take the car out after 7pm. I’ll leave my keys here, and you’ll know that the AP car will always be at your disposal if you need an extra after that time.”

It meant he had to crash on sofas sometimes (of APs who lived in separate apartments), but it worked out well.

I agree with the first poster – APs are adults, and it’s a bit galling to have rules put on our behaviour – but on your belongings, sure! If you’re lending out a car, it’s you that makes the rules about that..!

AuPair Paris May 14, 2015 at 6:30 am

(Wrt my story about my first HF… I do know it’s the HPs’ job to make the rules about their kids and their safety. I can understand how me taking over, and walking back with the kids might have come across as very judgey about their parenting… I guess it goes to show just how scared I’d been as a kid by the drunk driving warnings..! I’d be really interested to know if anyone had opinions about this/the limits of AP involvement in the kids’ safety, because it was the hardest thing to do in my entire AP career I think, and I still don’t know if I ought to have…)

OpinionatedHM May 14, 2015 at 8:00 am

You have the right to protect the safety of anyone you wish to, at any time, for any reason. If you see something that concerns you, you should always say something if you feel it is right. It should not matter whether other people feel it was the right choice.
I will always be grateful when someone speaks up with good intentions, even if it causes me to be inconvenienced. Too many people stand by watching terrible things happening because they aren’t sure if they have the right to intervene. I will never be angry at someone for trying to keep my children safe. I might be irritated or frustrated if I feel they are misunderstanding the situation, but I will always be grateful they cared enough to put my children’s safety before their own comfort.

Au Pair Report author May 14, 2015 at 11:17 am

AuPairParis, you absolutely made the right decision to walk home with the kids. A bottle of champagne is a lot to drink, and it’s possible to get into an accident even when the distance is short. The challenge in such a situation is how to present what you are doing, and that would depend on whether the parent was truly drunk or not. Maybe one way to deal with it would be saying that you feel like walking and that it would be good for the kids to do that also. Or you could point out that even if the parent feels fine, the blood alcohol limits are quite strict and drinking more than a glass (or two at most) puts someone at risk of arrest–with charges being far more severe if children are in the car. Unfortunately, parents make bad choices like this all the time, and when you are not there, there is nothing you can do about it. But maybe what you did showed the kids that they could make the same decision for themselves eventually when they get older–as in, “Hey Dad (or Mom), we’re just going to walk home because you’ve had too much to drink.”

Host Mom in the City May 14, 2015 at 8:02 am

We don’t have a curfew on our au pair or car, but I don’t see a problem with a car curfew, particularly if your au pair has other ways to get around. Car insurance costs us a couple thousand a year already and can increase substantially if any of us gets in an accident. The big issue for me personally is the significant decrease in value of a car you are selling that has an accident history. So years after the au pair that had an accident is gone, I migt get thousands less for a sale or trade-in simple because of that accident. So a single au pair accident can cost a host family thousands of dollars in the long run, even if they manage to get the deductible from the au pair.

Host Mom in the City May 14, 2015 at 8:13 am

I should add that I am strongly against au pair curfews and I don’t think that’s the same as a car curfew at all – having the car out late is statistically more likely to cost a host family thousands of dollars and the host family is ultimately responsible for the car and for any damage it causes. In contrast, while I do my best to inform my au pair about good choices in my area, I hire adults and can’t imagine not only telling someone when they have to be home but spending my time and energy monitoring that. Though we do have Uber and Lyft and cabs and trains, so if something happened in the middle of the night, she could easily get home on her own and wouldn’t be calling me to pick her up at 3am.

But honestly, if an au pair was routinely coming home too late to work the next morning or called me at 3am more than once or twice and only with serious emergencies, I wouldn’t be instituting a curfew – I’d be rematching.

VirginiaMom May 14, 2015 at 8:24 am

We have had many Aupairs. We have had 1 car totaled and 3 cars in the shop for extended periods thanks to our Aupairs. Our car has a curfew and absolutely has to be parked at our house by 9:45pm, no exceptions. We also have limitations on the distances it can be driven because we have had several Aupairs drive several thousand miles in a months time. Where are they going?!? They have all denied driving far away not realizing that the odometer doesn’t lie. When we are without our 3rd (aupair car) our Aupair is basically useless because she cannot help take kids to school, sports, etc. The rental provided is difficult because it lasts only 2 weeks and it is typically is not large enough for our 4 kids. So my husband and I end up taking off work to run the kids around while our Aupair just hangs out at home picking up toys and doing laundry. I have never had an Aupair that wanted to go out after 9:45pm and wasn’t able to find transportation. When they decide they want to go out they become very resourceful. They may not be able to solve small problems around the house using ‘google’ but they can always seem to find a way to ‘google’ how to connect multiple bus connections to a train to a plane to an Uber to get where they want to go!!

MatchingExpert May 14, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Not sure if you still have an au pair but it seems the program isn’t working for you anymore or didn’t work in the past.. your line: “They may not be able to solve small problems around the house using ‘google’ but they can always seem to find a way to ‘google’ how to connect multiple bus connections to a train to a plane to an Uber to get where they want to go” is beyond respectful to many former and current au pairs. Some of they go out of their way to help families like yours, maybe you shouldn’t use the word THEY and maybe try to find better matches next time

MatchingExpert May 15, 2015 at 5:56 pm

Beyond disrespectful* Some of them*

Schmetterfink May 19, 2015 at 9:44 am

“We also have limitations on the distances it can be driven because we have had several Aupairs drive several thousand miles in a months time. Where are they going?!? They have all denied driving far away not realizing that the odometer doesn’t lie.”

I guess one problem is what distance would be considered “far”?
I was in a somewhat rural, mid-west area with no public transportation (before Uber ever existed), where the closest au pair lived 5 miles away. Going to the movie theater was a 20 mile trip (one way). Going to the mall was a 20 mile trip (again, one way). Going to my classes was a 15 mile one-way trip.

Let’s calculate a regular week for me:

Monday – I work until 5 pm, we have dinner, I meet friends at the movie theater – 40 mile round trip.
Tuesday – I work until 5 pm and then go streight to class, which is 15 miles away. I meet friends for coffee after class which is a very small detour. Let’s say another 35 miles.
Wednesday – I work until 5 pm, have dinner with the family then drive to the grocery store real quick and come back home. 15 miles.
Thursday I have another class. Another 30 miles.
Friday – after work I meet with friends, we go out for dinner, then watch a movie. 40 miles.
Say we did a few things on Saturday – I pick up my friend (because I live further east and we need to go west so it makes sense I drive), we go to the zoo, then go to the closest library, then watch a movie in the afternoon, go to our favorite texmex place, grab a coffee, make a quick stop at the grocery store on the way back home – that’s a 55 mile trip.
Sunday we go to church, then out for lunch, drive to the park to go for a walk (yes, we actually did that), go back home – another 40 miles. If we have lunch anywhere “exotic” (German village) that adds another 30 miles. Going to the mall instead of the park, another 20 miles.

Without doing anything out of the ordinary I have just driven 250 / 300 miles that week. So at least 1,000 miles a month. Plus one au pair meeting, usually at the LCC’s house which added another 40 miles (the “wrong” way). I did not once leave the city limits, get lost or pick up a friend that lived a bit out of the way.

Driving far would have meant driving to the closest outlet mall (120 miles round-trip) or to the renaissance festival (160 miles round-trip) or to the closest amusement park (200 miles round-trip) or the next big city (250 miles round-trip) for a game.

If you want to experience the area you live in (not by going clubbing and getting drunk but by visiting places, going to museums, maybe going to a fair, seeing attractions in the area, going to a football/baseball/hockey game) you can easily drive 1,000+ miles a month without doing multiple “long distance” trips. I am sure there were months when I drove “several thousand miles.”

In addition to those 1,000 miles I put on the au pair car each month (not that it mattered for a car that had already 250,000 miles on the odometer when I arrived), taking the kids to school, to after-school activities, to the park, the lake, the play-ground, to visit their friends, to the library, the science museum, the zoo… I put at least another 500/600 miles on the family van per month. Over the course of my year I drove approximately 30,000 miles (au pair car, family van, rental car). Accident free, by the way.

Momto4 May 19, 2015 at 10:27 am

I think people tend to know the area they live in and what a reasonable drive would be there. For me, a few thousand miles a month is unthinkable when you do not have a job to commute to. If you live in a suburban area, most everything you need for the kids is within a 10-15 miles radius, much of closer – like the school, parks, library, etc.

Your example of a regular week in a rural area (20 miles to get to the movies here would be crazy – we have three/four within 5 miles of our suburban town) and you still only went 1000 miles and you went out every single night and all day on Saturday and Sunday. And note that you drive every single one of these nights – you don’t ever get a ride with friends. Which means your AP friends’ host parents are 100% off the hook for letting miles accrue on their car. So, even with your extreme example of being in a rural area, never carpooling and going out with the car seven days a week, you still only had about 1500 miles on the car in a month.

I do think its fair for HPs to question how much the car is driven and in a suburban or urban area, putting on these kinds of miles would mean the au pair is probably shuttling around half her cluster.

Taking a Computer Lunch May 19, 2015 at 11:20 am

Wow! I live in the suburbs and cringe that we put 1,200 miles on our family van every month, and that’s just doing routine kid and family activities – it doesn’t include trips out of the area.

While I agree that APs can be disingenuous about car use, I think HF sometimes underestimate trips. Suburban driving is the worst, quite frankly, because everything tends to be spread out.

While I think HF may put limitations on car use, they should balance what may be achieved realistically by walking and using public transportation, and what really requires a drive. How is your AP getting to class? Is she required to use “her” vehicle to drive the kids or are you providing a family vehicle? Are restaurants, movie theaters and malls on bus or Metro routes that run well into the evening, or would she become stuck at an unreasonably early hour without the use of a car (doesn’t have to be her, mind you, but someone’s HP have to be willing to loan one).

We’re a HF that provides unlimited use of an “AP car” (although we do book it when we need it ourselves). I must say, I can rack up 50 miles on a trip without leaving the greater Metro area – it is does give me pause as I consider global warming – and the fact that I paid more for a smaller house with better access to public transportation.

Peachtree Mom May 14, 2015 at 8:38 am

I agree with Warm State Mama. Most aupairs have no clue how expensive maintain a vehicle is with their insurance added in and how devastating an accident can be. They feel once the deductible is taken…end of story. I have posted this 100 times (now 101), our second aupair got into an accident 19 months ago, her fault that she did not wait for the green arrow and t-boned another car with parents and two children in the car. Our SUV was totaled but luckily no one was seriously hurt. She toodled back to Germany after her year with us (we worked through the aftermath) but two claims are still pending 19 months later and although USAA gave us accident forgiveness, we are on warning that one more accident will skyrocket our premiums. Nothing good happens after midnight. We do not have a curfew for our aupair but the replacement SUV has to be in by midnight. If asked, we may allow it to stay overnight at a friend’s house but it is not to be driven after midnight. For roadtrips, they rent a vehicle. We cannot afford another bad accident. It is clear in the family guide and we thoroughly discuss it during matching. Our last aupair put over 300 miles per week on the SUV…I have no idea where she went, sometimes it would give me heartburn but then I remember we had taken TACL advice and bought a 2008, higher mileage SUV as the replacement and feel better.

Boys Mama May 14, 2015 at 6:19 pm

It bears repeating… Nothing Good Happens After Midnight.

icsamerica May 14, 2015 at 9:13 am

Just days after her arrival an Au Pair lied to us about the car use so we imposed a 9:30 curfew on the car only. The Au Pair can stay out on non-work nights as long as she wants but the car has to be home at 9:30. Not a big deal here in suburbia where there is ample public transportation to Manhattan and Brooklyn. We also have a no-friends in the car policy. So far after 4 driving Au Pair we’ve had just one very minor accident.

WestMom May 14, 2015 at 11:19 am

I am curious why you ask that no friends be in the car? We are also in NYC subs, and AP will carpool with others to class or to the cluster meeting, which I highly encourage to do our little bit for the environment.

Mimi May 14, 2015 at 12:28 pm

I’m not sure about icsamerica’s rasons, but this is a law in some states that have graduated driving laws. For inexperienced drivers, studies have shown that as you increase the number of occupants in a car, the likelihood of a crash increases because of distractions.

WestMom May 14, 2015 at 7:03 pm

yes, I am aware of that for inexperienced drivers, having friends in the car can be distracting. And I would certainly agree to that for my 16yr old daughter. But my 21yr old AP? That seems a bit excessive IMO. I can see many situations where it would be beneficial to have an AP friend in the car in a foreign country: going to class, to the cluster meeting, or even some of those initial tasks like going to the DMV or to the bank for the first time.

Mimi May 14, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Our last AP had only been driving for 9 months and was 23. She was easily distracted and not a confident driver, but she was an exception for us since most of our APs have been experienced European drivers.

WarmStateMomma May 15, 2015 at 9:25 am

Age is a weird thing. My APs (and exchange students) have been much more mature than their US peers in some respects and way less mature in others.

Mimi May 15, 2015 at 10:22 am

Agreed and I think that’s why some HP feel the need to impose restrictions like that on their AP drivers.

Au Pair in France May 14, 2015 at 3:49 pm

One of my friend’s host family have given her a car to use with the back seats removed, as they think that it is safer to drive without a group of friends in the car and possibly distracting her.

AuPair Paris May 14, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Woooah, but if they can’t trust their au pair to obey rules without such extreme measures, how are they trusting her with their kids?!

Mimi May 14, 2015 at 5:10 pm

I think some people will take risks with themselves and their peers that they wouldn’t take with children but that might be just as dangerous. It could also be that the HP have figured out this way as helping her not become a group taxi.

Gianna May 14, 2015 at 4:21 pm

About friends in car. If an accident occurs and someone in your car is hurt , might you not have a potential liability ?. This probably varies from state to state. Aupairs have health insurance but I do not know which would be the primary carrier in the event of an accident : car insurance or health insurance . Does anyone else know?

Mimi May 14, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Here’s what provider has on its website:

In a motor vehicle accident case, coverage of your medical bills depends on whether the accident happened in a “no fault” state or not. No fault insurance means that your automobile insurer will pay some or all of your medical bills if you get into a car accident, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. In some “no fault” states, there is a limit to what your own automobile insurance company will pay. The limit differs from state to state, but is generally $10,000 or less.

After your medical bills exceed the state’s “no fault” limit, you are responsible for paying them. If you have health insurance, your health insurer will pay your medical bills. If you are on Medicare or a state run health insurance program through Medicaid, those entities will pay the bills. If you do not have health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, then you are responsible for working out payment arrangements with your health care providers.

If you get into a car accident in a state that does not have no fault insurance, you will generally be responsible for paying your medical bills. However, some drivers in these states have medical payment insurance coverage (known as “med pay” coverage). “Med pay” coverage will pay the medical bills of drivers or passengers involved in a car accident with the insured, up to the insured’s “med pay” policy limits, which are generally less than $10,000. After your bills exceed the “med pay” policy limits, you will be responsible for paying them. “Med pay” coverage is not always required, so, if neither you, nor the person at fault, have “med pay” coverage, you are responsible for paying the bills.

To give you some perspective, in 2010, my sister was t-boned by a distracted teen driver and had to be hospitalized for a week. The bill was just over $30k (including ambulance, ER, inpatient stay but no surgeries). That doesn’t include damage to her car (which was totaled).

PhillyMim May 17, 2015 at 7:33 am

Unfortunately, if there is a bad car accident which results in death or serious body injuries of that car passangers, their families may and will file a law suit against the driver or legal owner of the vehicle. That is why I would never allow my AuPair to drive neighbors’ kids to school….

Texas5TimeHostMom May 14, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Ugh, the car curfew and au pair curfew issue! Our car has a curfew of 12 midnight every night of the week. Where we live there are plenty of not so sober drivers around in the wee hours. Also, I was letting our au pair park the car overnight at a friend’s house or spend the night with her boyfriend, until it received a massive dent in the back hatch (it’s an SUV) after she already had two minor fender benders, so that was the end of that…we don’t have public transportation but taxis, Uber, and Lyft all service our area. We do have an au pair curfew on work nights, too. I would prefer not to. It used to be 12 am midnight on weeknights, no curfew on weekends. However, our current au pair (a full on adult now 25 years old) was out until 12 every night and was so bleary eyed when starting work that I changed it to 11 pm. She said she was plenty alert…but she was not. I think of it this way – if she had been a nanny showing up that bleary eyed after several warnings, I would have fired her. Instead, we changed the curfew and things improved. I am setting the curfew to midnight again for our new au pair later this year and we’ll use that as a starting point.

BearCo Momma May 14, 2015 at 1:01 pm

We also set an 11pm curfew during the week (weekday shift starts 6am). We started with AP#1 with having no curfew, but halfway through the year she started staying out till 3-4am at least once a week (for example, on a Tuesday). Not only did she wake us up when she returned, but also was a mess for several days afterwards due to fatigue. We could have rematched – and should have much earlier for many reasons – but it was our first AP and we were (and still are) terrified of rematch. I have talked about removing the curfew with DH for subsequent , more responsible APs, but he feels strongly that it makes the expectation crystal clear and that young people often just don’t “get it”, no matter how good of an AP they are. Basically our curfew is a way of saying – You need to be well rested. And I don’t want to argue over whether you are or not after staying out past 11pm — A) I’m sure you are not and B) Even if you could be, I can’t be sure because I’m not there and I don’t want to worry about it.
We don’t have a car curfew at all – our current AP is generally gone with our car from Friday evening till Sunday evening – we have no idea where the car goes. We have discussed the risks around this, but so far we’re kind of sticking with that policy till disaster strikes. I tell myself the freedom we give there makes up for the weekday curfew.

TexasHM May 14, 2015 at 2:59 pm

I wonder what (if any) correlation there is between the # and types of vehicles in the household and car curfews. Meaning if I had a really old beater car that I would never pay to repair would I be more flexible and eliminate our car curfew? (Maybe. Assuming AP understood she would be responsible for deductible and car would likely not be replaced if totaled and not repaired if damaged – deductible still paid for the loss of value of the car.) If I bought a new(er) car or had a car that I knew would be expensive/difficult to replace would I be more likely to impose a car curfew? (You betcha and that is where we are now.)

I mention # of vehicles because if vehicles are shared I would expect a higher ratio of car curfews to ensure availability and avoid lost transportation if there was an accident.

I am sure there is also another factor – HP risk tolerance. Meaning I tend to always think of the worst case scenario and ask myself if that’s tolerable for me whereas I have a good friend that lives with complete blinders on and always hopes for the best. I would be shocked if she instituted a curfew and no one here is shocked that we have one. :)

Just theorizing today…

BearCo Momma May 14, 2015 at 3:05 pm

I’m sure it is definitely a factor. Our AP car is a perfectly safe and functional but older car and we wouldn’t be too devastated if it was totaled. The main person who would be affected would be her since she’d no longer have car in her free time till/if we found something else (and I’d be in no rush in that case)
The one thing I do worry about is our liability if the accident caused damage to someone ELSE’s car or person. So if we ever did instill a car curfew, it would be for that reason.

Seattle Mom May 14, 2015 at 5:40 pm

We only ever buy old cars, and we still have a car curfew and care about our cars. Each of our (2) cars cost around $3k and are over 10 years old, but we don’t have extra money to throw around on a replacement, plus we care about our resource use as a family. Each car produced has a huge carbon footprint that greater energy efficiency does not make up for. We do not believe that it is responsible to buy a new car every 5 years.

If we didn’t have an au pair we probably could get away with being a one car family, but that doesn’t mean the second car is the au pair’s exclusive car. One car is the kid car, and whoever is taking the kids uses it. The other one is for driving around without the kids. DH and I both take the bus to work (mostly) but we are also involved in our own athletic activities that require driving.

We are less concerned about dents and scratches than people with shiny new cars, but we want the interiors kept clean and we need the cars to be in safe and functional condition.

Plus there is still the issue of people getting hurt and killed, etc.

NJmama May 14, 2015 at 6:49 pm

No correlation here. We retired a ’97 Chrysler that was an au pair car last year. And now the AP uses my old car, a 2003 Honda CR-V. I bought a newer used car and my hubby also drives an older car. So we’re a family of three old cars and we still have a car curfew for all the reasons stated. If the AP totaled the car tomorrow it would be expensive and a hassle for us to replace it. So the fact that it’s an older car doesn’t factor into the curfew.

We could get by on two – and have from time to time, bc I take a bus to work while my H drives. We both have long commutes. But we also leave and come home at different times and I still have to drive to catch my bus. It’s tough. and expensive.

Our current au pair drives the car more than any other. In fact I had to ask her to restrict the long trips bc of all the miles she puts on it. And quite frankly if we suddenly dropped to two cars and she had to give up a lot of weekend driving she would be terribly unhappy.

I think with everything a lot of these rules – especially curfews – we set after we’ve been burned and loosen with the good au pairs that we trust. I’m very clear in interviewing about the curfew (car and au pair) – and I always point out that there are families that don’t have curfews and who have different rules and curfews. I think it helps to get the au pair thinking concretely about what type of host family she wants. And yes I’ve had au pairs say thanks but no thanks.

However once I explain my reasons behind the rules most au pairs have been fine with it.

I also want to add that we had all state for many years and they offered roadside assistance for free. And even though I put a tag with the number on the key chain the few times the au pair needed roadside assistance she called me or my husband. We switched to usaa a few months ago and I’m glad to hear they have that bc I had no idea.

Seattle Mom May 15, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I’m a little nostalgic for our ’95 Chrysler Concorde that we recently replaced with a 2003 Lincoln. The Chrysler was the au pair car until it became so unreliable that we worried about stranding her with the kids. Now our ’93 Volvo is the au pair car- it’s a tank and we love it. We consider it a difficult-to-replace antique, so maybe we cherish it a little more than a car that more money could buy.

Though we like our Lincoln… it’s a better ride than the Chrysler.

NJ Mama May 15, 2015 at 2:04 pm

LOL Seattle Mom – ours was a Chrysler Concorde too. When one of our first APs came back to visit us last year she said, “I loved that old car!” Too funny!

Momto4 May 19, 2015 at 10:34 am

For us its the main factor. We didn’t impose a car curfew thinking it wasn’t necessary – we are a one car family and our au pair knew this during matching. So, she knows if she has teh car, it means we are without any transport. She also knows our schedule and that we use the car early every morning, even weekends. When I woke up one Saturday morning to find the alarm not on, I knew our AP hadn’t returned with the car from the night before. Needless to say, I was very upset. I called her and she said she would be straight home. She then called back about 10 minutes later that she had been in an accident. She rear ended someone on her way back, probably she was nervous and rushed. Either way, I was livid but managed to contain my anger and be rational as well as kind. I should have rematched though because its been hard for me to forgive that and she got in another fender bender about 4 months later. If would have rematched then except we only had a 10 weeks left so it didn’t make sense.
In the end, I just told her that the car needs to be home by midnight so there is no chance of her thinking she can rush her way back and bring the car home right before we wake up – I don’t need another accident because she was racing home.

German Au-Pair May 14, 2015 at 5:34 pm

The BIG difference to me is that I feel it’s a HF’s right to put a curfew on the car but it’s not their right to impose one on me. I DO get some of the reasons for imposing a curfew on the AP that have been mentioned on this blog before (like the HP being light sleepers right next to the door or sth like that) but in general I would find it rediculous if I was told “I expect you to be a responsible adult in our house but please be home by 11”.
Therefore, I do think it’s a valid point that you don’t feel it’s safe for the CAR to be parked in an empty parking lot at night. (I personally do think it’s unreasonable to prohibit parking the car in a fellow HP’s driveway though).
The argument of the Ap not realizing how much she had to drink doesn’t click with me either. It would definitely go on the contra-matching-list for me. I think if you trust your CHILDREN with someone, you should be able to trust that they won’t drink and drive. And this is also not about “more than she thinks”…no alcohol is no alcohol, period.
That said, this is how I personally feel about it and I would hope that if a HF knew me they would trust me to obey by this rule and maybe grant more freedom. But I do know that in reality many 20-something y/o can be really stupid. My very frist night out another seemingly responsible AP told me she had been driving after having had two cocktails. Crazy.

Seattle Mom May 14, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I am a light sleeper and my bedroom is near the front door and the one bathroom in our house. But I wouldn’t put a curfew on my au pair for that reason. I do ask them to be quiet at night, but some seem to naturally have a heavier step than others. I love current AP to death but she wakes me up whenever she uses the bathroom at night.

Instead, I wear ear plugs. The only down side is if one of my kids wakes up with a nightmare, it takes me a LONG time to hear them screaming (and my husband is still snoring away- very unfair!).

Host Mom in the City May 14, 2015 at 5:48 pm

We have a similar issue and unfortunately, I just chalk it up to another inconvenience I have to deal with if I want an au pair. I got woken up probably four or five times a week by our au pair coming and going.

Seattle Mom May 15, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Yeah, I agree- a minor nuisance. The only time I got mad was when an au pair woke me up puking in the bathroom after being out drinking. She apologized profusely though and it never happened again.

German Au-Pair May 16, 2015 at 3:33 pm

I do think it’s a legit reason though…”please don’t come home after 1 am because I will never get my baby (or myself) back to sleep” is so much more reasonable than “please be home early because I don’t trust your to judge your alcohol input” (again, what is there to juudge? NO drinking and driving = not a single drink…Who cannot count to 0?).

I have to sleep with ear plugs two because I have become such a light sleeper during my stay. Had to wear ear plugs because I love to sleep in late and HC would practice violin at 9am (which is super early when you go to sleep at 4…) and that has ruined me for life :D

Host Mom in the City May 14, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Anyone else on here thinking about the expectation for car use that au pairs typically have, the huge cost and risk of allowing a young adult to drive your car, and the fact that if the au pair program costs jump up significantly, there is zero chance I’m also providing a car and taking that risk on top of the cost if I’m paying as much as a live-out nanny? Things au pairs (and the State Department?) don’t consider when they look at the stipend alone….

Seattle Mom May 15, 2015 at 1:16 pm

If the cost goes up significantly I will probably leave the program.. It is already not the cheapest option for us, though considering the convenience it is worth the extra $2-3k per year and the little headaches. Taking away car use would actually add to inconvenience, since I expect the AP to be able to drive the kids places. So it wouldn’t be a viable way to reduce the costs of having an AP.

WarmStateMomma May 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm

My kids would be pretty much housebound and our AP would be unable to attend monthly meetings if we didn’t give her car access. Also, she’d be stuck with only doing the travel weekend courses for her education requirement (or failing to meet it). It’s a big risk, though, and one of the biggest drawbacks of hosting APs in my region. Lots of APs in my city aren’t allowed to drive and they’re not terribly happy. I don’t know how many didn’t know they wouldn’t be driving when they matched and how many only found out when their HFs realized they didn’t know how to drive properly.

As a lawyer, the liability issues make me worry. As a mom, the safety issues make me worry. Lots of worry….

Host Mom in the City May 15, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Sorry for not being very clear, but I totally agree wth both of you. There are certainly places where au para wouldn’t need to drive, but I’d guess that most places in the U.S. either the host family needs them to for the job, and/or they need to to get anywhere at all.

So what I meant was that when the law suit says that au pairs are only paid $195.75 a week and want that bumped up hundreds of dollars a week, the total cost of the program just becomes totally ridiculous. It’s already the most expensive option for many of us, myself included, and raising it even more to be on par with the cost of a live-out nanny AND expect host families to take on the costs and risk and worry of providing au pairs a car? The program would lose the vast majority of host parents.

NorCalHostMom July 22, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Thank you all for your input on this topic! My husband and I are just now revisiting our car policy for AP #2 coming in a few weeks- it is going to be MUCH stricter than for our current au pair, who is going home because she struck an elderly person in a crosswalk. Thank goodness the woman was not seriously injured, but it was terrifying for all involved and we’ll be dealing with the insurance fallout for months, if not years. AP#1 had several red flags prior to the accident. As a newbie, I didn’t think to ask detailed questions about her driving experience before she joined us. Though she was 23 she only had 1.5 years of experience.

Needless to say, driving experience was the first thing we asked AP#2 about in the interview. This time around we will have a car curfew and incremental access to the car, something like this:

Weeks 1 & 2:
– no driving the children, walk to school
– practice driving every day, with and without us
– no using car on the weekend
– study for state driver’s license test

Weeks 3 & 4:
– drive the children to school and local park only
– practice driving every day, without us
– no using car on the weekend
– study for state driver’s license test

First month upon passing the state driver’s license test:
– drive the children to school, local parks, extracurriculars, run work-related errands
– ok to use car on weekends in the local area. Car curfew: midnight

And we’ll add privileges as time goes on.

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