Pa. mom’s warning about car insurance and food app delivery drivers

PITTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania mother is warning everyone to check their insurance coverage after getting into an accident with a delivery driver using a popular food app.

It’s the law in the Keystone State to have car insurance but many people don’t realize there is a big difference between personal and work use with your car’s insurance policy. Driving home on a two-lane road in York County, Sarah Leiphart never expected another car to turn right in front of her.

“I was so confused as to why this car was going into this lane and not stopping,” said Leiphart. “My car was totaled completely. The whole front grille was taken off. The air bag was deployed.”

The other driver claimed responsibility and they traded insurance information. But 24 hours later, Leiphart found herself in an insurance nightmare.

“When the other driver’s company told me that they couldn’t do anything because he was clocked in as a DoorDash driver, I never expected (that),” Leiphart said. “I never saw that coming. I didn’t realize that this was a problem in the system at all.”

Pennsylvania state law requires taxi and ride sharing companies, like Uber, to offer a minimum level of insurance when they drive passengers, but that’s not the case for other popular food delivery services that many have come to rely on during the pandemic.

Papa Allen’s Pizza, located in downtown Pittsburgh, saw more first-time delivery drivers hoping to make a quick buck, unaware they could be driving without insurance.

Manager Jeremy Brucker said, “It’s a lot more people doing the services, like DoorDash and UberEats. Most of them don’t know they have to have the extra insurance for being a delivery driver.”

Brucker said he tells his new delivery drivers when he hires them to call their insurance company first thing before they start. Many people think their personal insurance will cover an accident, but that’s not the case, and delivery companies aren’t required to cover their drivers.

Attorney Craig Fishman, who handles accident and injury cases, said, “If you don’t have that additional coverage and you’re working as a delivery driver, you probably don’t have insurance. With these other food delivery companies, they may or may not have coverage. So, for example, Uber Eats provides coverage for its drivers for their liability when they cause an accident. Grubhub has no insurance. Instacart has no insurance. Postmates provides insurance when driving to pick up and driving to deliver, but not when the driver is sitting in his or her car waiting for an order.”

Fishman said some of the websites even show inconsistencies in what they will cover if drivers are in an accident. He explained that state laws simply haven’t caught up to require coverage from the companies. That leaves all drivers susceptible to having to pay their own deductible if they’re in an accident.

“There’s no clear law or regulations specifying what sort of coverage must be provided to the delivery drivers,” said Fishman. “It is very surprising and concerning to me, as someone who represents injured people.”

Leiphart agrees. Her deductible was eventually reimbursed, but only after months of back and forth with her insurance.

“I’m genuinely concerned that this is going to happen to somebody who isn’t going to know how to handle it, take the proper steps,” Leiphart said.

Each delivery company varies on what they offer drivers, so it’s best that drivers reach out to them and find out if and what their policy covers. DoorDash and Uber say they offer a commercial auto insurance policy, while Grubhub and Instacart say they notify drivers during the application process that they must have their own insurance policy.

Fishman recommends buying “uninsured and underinsured coverage.” That way if you’re in an accident and the other person’s insurance won’t cover you, you’re still protected.

11 Investigates also found out more of these delivery app companies are also offering “Occupation Accident Insurance.” Some offer it without charge, and some companies make their drivers pay, but basically it covers medical bills and death benefits, but not car repairs.

Fishman explains the inconsistencies here in this video.

11 Investigates reached out to some of the popular delivery app companies, asking why they choose not to offer a minimum insurance policy in the state to protect their drivers and other customers. See their responses below:

Grubhub responded with the following: “The safety of our delivery partners is of the utmost importance and something we take extremely seriously. We require that drivers maintain vehicle insurance for every vehicle used to perform deliveries, and we share this requirement with drivers during the application process. The insurance must provide coverage for all activities connected to their delivery services and satisfy all state and local requirements. Drivers must provide proof of such insurance coverage before contracting with us and update us each time their coverage is renewed or altered.”

DoorDash responded with the following statement when we asked about insurance coverage and the conflicting statements on their website: “DoorDash has a commercial auto insurance policy that covers bodily injury and/or property damage to third parties arising out of accidents while on an active delivery. Dashers agree to maintain their own insurance while on the platform, in accordance with local laws. In addition, DoorDash provides occupational accident insurance to all US dashers for injuries sustained while on an active delivery.”

More details on the coverage can be found HERE.

Uber, which acquired Postmates in December of 2020, responded: “Every worker should have protections when they’re on the job, which is why we maintain commercial auto insurance on behalf of all delivery drivers while operating on the app.”

The company tells 11 Investigates that their commercial insurance policy provides up to $1 million third-party liability coverage for the driver, and is more than what is required by state law. You can read more about their policy HERE.

Instacart did not provide a direct statement answering our questions regarding insurance coverage, but did provide the following link about shopping perks the company offers, which include similar programs to Occupation Accident Insurance. Instacart did add that their shoppers must sign an “Independent Contract Agreement,” which says the shopper is responsible “for securing and paying for automobile insurance.” (CLICK HERE for information.)