Key Points in This Article:
- Grocery and restaurant delivery services have become extremely popular in Michigan over the past three years, especially in metro areas like Detroit, Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids.
- Most car insurance companies have an exclusion for workers who use their car as a business, including delivering food and groceries for businesses via electronic apps.
- In the event of an accident, food delivery drivers must realize that private companies are increasingly trying to shift obligations onto workers in hopes to make them more accountable and shift blame.
- Whether you are a delivery driver, or someone injured by one, knowing if you have the right coverage and what to do in this situation can drastically change the outcome of a personal injury claim.
Just a short time ago, other than your favorite pizza joint and Chinese take-out, it was mostly inconceivable to think that anyone was going to knock on your door and deliver your lunch or dinner from a restaurant in your Michigan community. But now, just by using an app on your phone, a person is soon on their way and dropping your hand-picked groceries, favorite fast foods, and personalized meals to your business or home using delivery services such as:
- Uber Eats
- Door Dash
Food delivery services are likely to continue gaining popularity in Michigan, especially in metro areas like Detroit, Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. And local food charity programs like Flint Fresh or Peaches & Greens in Detroit are popping up more often and also use drivers to deliver foods. Economists say the trendy businesses provide healthier food-on-the-go options for people with busier lifestyles and build community and flexible employment opportunities for others.
But some of the drivers who work for these companies may start their deliveries before they understand the scope and implications their new job can have on their auto insurance – especially if involved in a crash while driving a personal vehicle without the right coverage.
Delivery Drivers Must Notify Insurance Carriers of Employment
In normal circumstances, when you are driving your car, truck or motorcycle and cause an accident, your car insurance carrier would pay for any damages you cause, such as personal injuries or property damage. The car insurance company will also provide you with an attorney to defend yourself. But, when you start using your vehicle as part of your employment to deliver food, the scenario and coverage can look very different.
Meant initially to exclude newspaper delivery people, most insurers have an exclusion for using your car as a business, including delivering food and groceries via electronic apps. This means a food delivery driver’s car insurance may not cover them if involved in a Michigan car crash – even as an independent contractor or when receiving cash payments.
This is especially true if you failed to tell your auto insurance carrier of your new job. In this case, the carrier has the right to deny covering the claim altogether, leaving you personally liable for any damages and injuries you cause to yourself and others.
Food Delivery Drivers Are Frequently Asked These Questions After Being Involved in an Accident
In the event you are involved in an accident while delivering food, you should be prepared to answer these common questions to show who is liable for the accident.
- Were you “on the clock” at the time of the accident?
A driver who is out making a delivery or driving to a restaurant to pick up a package should be compensated for that time. But the employer may argue that people working outside of those boundaries were driving on personal time when the accident occurred, a similar argument that applies to Michigan ride-share drivers. The amount of liability coverage these drivers are responsible for paying depends on whether a ride is taking place.
- Are you an official employee or an independent contractor of the food delivery service group?
While this answer shouldn’t carry too much weight, it can add a layer of complexity and confusion to the case because private businesses are increasingly trying to shift obligations onto their workers by categorizing them as contractors. Be aware of any attempt by a food delivery company to push accident accountability on you.
- Do you own the delivery vehicle involved in the crash?
The owner of a vehicle used for business purposes does have an obligation to maintain it in good working condition, similar to truck drivers who must check over their rig prior to traveling.
The best ways a food delivery driver can be protected is to be a good driver, keep your vehicle safe and maintained, be honest in reporting to your car insurance company about your job, and purchase the insurance coverage expected by your employer. Let them know you are working for a food delivery company in Michigan and will be using your personal vehicle for this purpose. Knowing this, the car insurance carrier can adequately measure all of the risks involved, and you can be covered for any loss (accident) you may have caused.
Injured in an Accident Involving Food Delivery?
The Steinberg Law Firm is here to help. We have represented individuals driving for companies like Door Dash and Shipt, as well as people who have been injured by drivers of these companies. We can fight for benefits that include your medical bills, your lost wages, out of pocket costs, as well as reimbursement for family members taking care of you.
If you have any questions, please call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out our case evaluation form. Contacting us is free, and there are no fees or costs until we win your case.