During the pandemic, thousands of people paid the bills by delivering meals. Local drivers learn they may be forced to foot the bill for insurance gaps
ST. LOUIS – Food delivery apps promise convenience for the eater and a little extra cash for the driver. They have exploded in popularity during the pandemic, with one in three families using a delivery app to safely bring them the restaurant experience. Thousands of new drivers have signed up to replace lost revenue due to COVID-19.
Some residents of St. Louis are learning that the actual cost of this burger or burrito may be more than the price shown on screen.
âWhen their driver was leaving, they heard a bang,â Calvin Horning said.
That hit was a DoorDash driver hitting Horning’s car.
âIt bent the door of the frame a bit and messed up the door seal. It was raining that morning, so the inside got wet,â he added.
Soon after, Horning had a bigger problem than a standard fender: âWe filed a complaint with DoorDash indicating everything that had happened. And that’s when they replied that since he was not actively delivering, since he had already completed his delivery, that they would not take responsibility for it. “
The I-Team has found that policies vary between food delivery companies when it comes to coverage for drivers in the event of an accident between orders. For DoorDash drivers, even if the app is open and they’ve just completed a delivery, they’re only covered by their own liability insurance, according to a company spokesperson.
Horning was shocked to learn that no one checked to see if the delivery driver who hit his car had liability insurance before letting him take control.
âHe doesn’t have insurance on his car,â Horning said.
In Illinois and Missouri, companies are not required to provide insurance for their delivery drivers.
The two largest delivery companies, GrubHub and DoorDash, require their drivers to have appropriate insurance, but do not ask for proof. Only drivers agree to have liability insurance before starting to deliver.
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In addition, delivery drivers cannot rely on their liability insurance to cover them either.
“They’re screwed. There’s no right way to put it,” said Brett Slaughter, an Uber and Lyft driver in the Metro East.
When Slaughter’s daughter became a delivery driver for Papa John, he learned from the manager that her job would come with additional risk.
âI spoke to his manager over there and he said, oh yeah, when they’re driving we use your personal insurance,â Slaughter said. “I called my insurance company Allstate, and they pretty much confirmed what I found online, that as long as she’s driving for a big name now … because it’s a business, they won’t. It’s explicitly prohibited. “
The I-Team reached out to Papa John’s with questions about their driver and insurance policies. Their representative did not respond.
Carrie Couch, director of consumer affairs at the Missouri Department of Insurance, said this is to be expected in many auto insurance policies.
âYour personal auto policy will not cover any type of business transaction, including the delivery of pizza,â Couch said. âI don’t think that’s a requirementâ¦ for companies that have delivery drivers, it will be something that will be a business decision of that particular company.â
A representative from the Illinois Secretary of State’s office said Illinois also has no legal requirements for food delivery drivers who work from their personal vehicles or the apps that pay them. .
The lack of coverage creates a situation that puts both drivers and the public at risk as people sign up to deliver food.
âI’m scared of how many kids are doing this now that I don’t know,â Slaughter said. “A little accident will cost you thousands and thousands of dollars. Just for a pay of ten dollars an hour.”
Slaughter said her daughter decided it was just too risky.
And Horning had to pay out of pocket to fix his own car.
“It’s the ordinary people who really suffer in the long run. It’s their employees that they hurt by not covering them and the citizens around them,” Horning said.
The I-Team reached out to the biggest food delivery app companies and the biggest pizza delivery chains to ask them about their policies.
The DoorDash representative said their commercial auto insurance policy covers bodily injury and property damage to third parties while the driver is on active delivery, i.e. after accepting an order and before complete the order. Drivers must take out their own insurance while on the platform, and drivers are eligible for workers’ compensation insurance which covers them if they are injured during delivery.
The GrubHub representative wrote: âDrivers are required to carry insurance that meets all state and local requirements and covers all work-related activities they perform for delivery services. We encourage drivers to deal with any complaints with their insurer. They added: “Grubhub does not provide its own insurance.”
Uber Eats and Postmates
The Uber representative, discussing UberEats and Postmates, wrote: âFood delivery couriers using a vehicle on the Eats app are required to provide proof of valid / compliant personal auto insurance. State as part of the onboarding processâ¦ Uber maintains commercial auto insurance on behalf of Eats drivers using a vehicle while operating on the Uber app. âThey added that this includes the time between active deliveries.
Inquiries to Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s have not been answered.
This story will be updated as we receive additional feedback.