Your Beef: Owner liable for accident by Keys to Us driving service

Your auto insurance covers your car regardless of who is driving (including hired drivers, valets, mechanics etc.).

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We hired Keys to Us, a service that drives responsible drinkers, and their car, home. (We thought a taxi wouldn’t have baby seat anchors.)

The driver missed our driveway and, when turning around, hit an icy snowbank, damaging our car’s bumper. Stupidly, I paid the $40 ride fee.

The dealer quotes $1,800 to fix our 2013 Chevy Cruise LTZ.

Keys to Us says to claim from our insurance and they’ll cover the $1,000 deductible.

Our insurance broker says making a (driver-at-fault) claim will cost us $8,000 over the next six years in increased premiums, which isn’t right since we weren’t responsible.

Susan Roper, the Keys to Us driver involved, replies:

When I pulled out from a driveway with hard-packed snow, there was a noise from the front end. I then drove a few metres to their home.

The husband looked at the car front, and then asked his wife, “Was that there before?” She said she didn’t think so. I saw a rip in the front, driver’s-side bumper, with only their word it wasn’t there before.

I called Glenn Willchuk, general manager of Keys to Us, who said we’d get it all straightened out. I apologized to the customer.

There were delays with the police report, and from a family emergency on my part. However, I admitted I was at fault and told him to repair the vehicle, send me a copy of the bill, and I’d pay his $1,000 deductible.

Pete Karageorgos of the Insurance Bureau of Canada adds:

Being a single-vehicle collision with a snowbank, the damaged car’s insurer would pay the claim minus the deductible. It would go on the insurance records of both the vehicle owner and the person driving.

Compensation from the responsible driver for the deductible could be sought in court.

Injury claims, if any, would be to the vehicle insurer. If the hired driver didn’t have her own auto insurance, she could claim for injury against the vehicle owner’s insurance also.

Eric Lai adds:

Your auto insurance covers your car regardless of who is driving (including hired drivers, valets, mechanics etc.).

Unfair as it is, you must choose between making an $1,800 claim that will cost $8,000 in increased premiums, or instead paying $800 out-of-pocket. Either way, you’ll recover the $1,000 (deductible amount) from the driver involved.

Maybe the lesson is: when going drinking, take a cab or public transit there and back. That way, if anything happens, it’s on their auto insurance, not yours.

Got a beef? Send it to Eric Lai at Include year, make, model and kilometres of autos cited, plus your name, address and telephone number. Personal replies cannot be handled due to volume.

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