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UPDATED: Oct 8, 2017
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When bus drivers take the wheel, they have more than their own safety to worry about. They have dozens, sometimes hundreds of passengers relying on them.
And the vehicle they operate is not your standard car or SUV. It’s big, heavy, unwieldy, and it can be a rolling death machine in the wrong hands.
Over 50 people die in bus accidents every year, and there are roughly 14,000 bus crashes annually.
That’s why it is important for bus drivers to be properly insured.
Bus drivers don’t buy special insurance policies to drive commercially. If you’re thinking of becoming a bus driver, you won’t have to carry any auto insurance beyond your personal policy.
Instead, the company you drive for carries insurance on your behalf. The specific types of insurance it has depends on a few factors. These factors include the value of their buses and how many passengers those buses carry.
Let’s discuss the most common types of insurance for bus companies.
If you regularly ride the bus and want to make sure you are insured, compare at least three to four policies today. Enter your ZIP code above to get the best auto insurance rates!
Liability insurance pays for damages when you are at fault in an auto accident; it doesn’t cover damage to your vehicle or person. Liability pays for damage you cause to another person or persons.
Almost all states require you to have liability coverage before you get behind the wheel. Required liability insurance is true no matter what kind of vehicle you drive, a bus or a small car.
If you forgo liability insurance, not only are you breaking the law, but if you have an accident, you’ll have to pay for the other person’s vehicle and medical bills out of pocket.
Bus companies usually carry two types of liability insurance: property damage coverage and bodily injury coverage.
Most accidents cause damage to personal property, including:
- Mailboxes, etc.
When you’re at fault in an accident, you’re responsible for paying for any property you damage that belongs to someone else.
If you lack proper insurance, the other party can demand you pay this money out of pocket. And if you can’t pay, they can sue to have your wages garnished or assets seized.
Property damage coverage protects you and your assets from any damage you cause in an at-fault accident.
Bodily Injury Coverage
Let’s say a car comes to a sudden stop in front of the bus you’re driving. The bus is massive and therefore can’t stop as fast as the car did. You slam into the back of it, and a few weeks later, the driver files a claim for whiplash.
Without bodily injury coverage, you could be on the hook for a huge dollar amount. By the time the patient rides in an ambulance to the emergency room, gets checked by their doctor, and, potentially, sees a chiropractor or physical therapist, the total cost can reach well into the tens of thousands.
Bodily injury coverage keeps that money from coming out of your pocket.
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Medical Payments (MedPay)
Medical payments coverage, or MedPay, is crucial for anyone operating a bus. MedPay provides insurance in case you cause an accident and passengers on your bus are injured; it also protects you, the driver, from having to pay for any injuries suffered out of pocket.
Moreover, most MedPay policies cover driver and passenger injuries even if the bus driver wasn’t at fault.
Let’s say another vehicle collides with the bus, and its driver lacks sufficient insurance. MedPay should pick up where the other driver’s coverage leaves off.
Physical Damage Coverage
A bus is an expensive vehicle. If it’s damaged in a crash, the company that owns it could be financially devastated.
Physical damage coverage protects the company in this situation and covers damage to the bus itself by paying the cost of repairs or replacement after an accident.
Two categories comprise physical damage insurance:
Collision insurance protects against damage to the bus from a collision. If you strike another vehicle while driving a bus or if you fail to negotiate a curve correctly and overturn the vehicle, collision coverage pays for the damage to the bus.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage caused by events that aren’t car accidents. The two most common are theft and vandalism.
Comprehensive also comes into play for certain weather-related issues. If a tree falls on a bus during a bad thunderstorm, a good chance exists the company’s comprehensive policy will pay for the damages caused.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
When the other driver is at fault in a bus accident, that driver’s insurance pays for damage to the bus and injuries to the bus driver and passengers.
But what if that driver doesn’t carry auto insurance? Or, alternatively, what if they carry insurance, but it’s a minimum coverage policy that’s nowhere near sufficient to pay for all the damages caused?
In a situation like this, uninsured motorist coverage takes over and pays for damages.
If a bus company elects not to have this coverage, it could find itself in a coverage gap when someone without insurance causes an accident with the bus.
The company’s insurance will probably deny the claim, stating — rightfully — that it’s the other driver’s responsibility. But, of course, the other driver can’t pay because they don’t have insurance.
It sounds unfair. After all, the person responsible for a crash should pay, right? But you can’t make money appear out of thin air. If the other driver has no insurance and can’t pay out of pocket, the bus company is probably stuck.
That’s why uninsured motorist coverage is so important.
Driving for Personal Use
The policy your company has for you as a bus driver only applies when you’re driving the bus. When operating your own vehicle for personal use, you need your own insurance policy.
Your personal auto insurance can be the same kind of insurance you’d buy if you weren’t a bus driver. You don’t need a particular policy for commercial use because your policy isn’t for when you’re driving the bus. But you need to always have car insurance.
A conviction for driving without insurance can threaten your ability to maintain gainful employment as a bus driver.
Bus drivers need insurance for a variety of reasons. But they don’t have to buy it on their own. Bus companies usually maintain robust policies to cover accidents and mishaps.
If you are a bus driver in need of better auto insurance, start comparison shopping today and get the best rates for you! Enter your ZIP code below!