Driver's Ed Insurance Coverage
I thought I should post the substance of another conversation that I had with the friendly underwriting supervisor at USAA on Thursday. This might well ruin someone's day.
As some will recall, I have been interested in asking my insurance company (USAA) for a definition to their use of the term "speed contest". The specific exclusion in my Maine insurance contract states: "We do not provide ....coverage for 'Any vehicle while being operated in, or in practice for, any speed contest' ".
From my experience in the insurance industry, I have felt that given full underwriting information, that PCA Drivers Ed events are NOT insurable under the standard family automobile insurance policy, and have urged on numerous occasions that people obtain IN WRITING an endorsement from their insurance company that states that the company in fact will insure their vehicle while in PCA Drivers Ed events. And NO, a letter or verbal assurance from an agent is NOT sufficient.
This discussion came to a head at the Zone 1 PCA Presidents' Meeting two weeks ago, when several people who are insured with USAA became concerned, and I was told by one person, that their car WAS insured by USAA and WAS insured at DE events.
In the initial discussion with USAA, I had difficulty getting the person on the phone to understand that I was not asking a question that would deal specifically with MY vehicles. I am not interested in DE events at this point, simply because I do not have the time, and would not care to drive either of my cars on any track, although my 928 might see the big time trial in September, if there is any competition for it.
In that first conversation, the person on the phone was able to quote from the underwriting guidelines that USAA would cover rallies, gymkhanas, but NOT time trials or hill climbs. There was no mention of DE events, as PCA defines them. He was basically unaware of DE events as an animal, and thought that it was either the training of drivers for hire, like a driving school, which would specifically be excluded, or driver ed like using the car for your daughter to prepare for her first license. When I explained what a DE event was, he referred me to a senior underwriting supervisor, and it was with her that I had two lengthy coversations, the last on Thursday.
Here is how it works. And, basically, it works the same for all insurance companies. When a client calls to order a policy, or stops into an office to order one, an application is taken. Certain information is required, and insurance companies all have guidelines. If a high performance auto is involved, some companies will underwrite them, some will absolutely NOT underwrite them; and some will not underwrite them depending upon other underwriting factors, such as driving records and the presence of young operators in the household. Well and good.
The question of speed competitions is largely covered in the exclusions section of the policy, and might well not come up. The specific question of Drivers Ed events would only come up, likely, if the policyholder actually asked the question. I have felt that given enough specific information about Drivers Ed, they would specifically decline coverage.
Now, the fact that it is not specifically declined in the policy language, does not guarantee coverage. This is true of ALL companies, and a claim will be handled on a case by case basis. The final determination about coverage is made by the claims department, when the claim comes in. This is ALWAYS the case, and where language is vague, there is always the potential for a company to seriously consider declining coverage. This is especially true with claims of severity.
So, the specific question: even though DE events are not speed contests, in that there is no time kept, and they are not specifically practicing for speed contests, will USAA provide coverage?
The Underwriting supervisor with whom I spoke talked with a variety of other people at USAA, including claims supervisory personnel, and the conclusion, was that, NO, Drivers Ed events are not within the intent of the USAA personal auto policy. And they would not provide coverage in case of loss.
Now, HOW that will filter down to the policy holder, I don't know. But probably you will see an article about this in USAA Magazine before terribly long, and USAA might refine their exclusions somewhat, as the information that I had was that they really didn't know much specifically about DE events at all.
As I said at the beginning of this thread, if you think that you are insured, get it in writing as an endorsement for your policy on the insurance company stationery. That way, specific coverage for your situation is a part of the policy language and insuring agreement. If there is a loss, the claims department MUST conform to the specifics of the insuring agreement. Without that, vague assurances might be worth nothing.
Also, before the flames begin, let me emphasize that my interest here has nothing to do with physical damage to your Porsche.....if you smash it up, and have no coverage after the fact,t hat is of no consequence. Our Porsches are lovely, but the reality is that there are very few that are really unique. We all can survive the loss of a mechanical thing.
But if there is substantial bodily injury done, and then no coverage, the damage to a family and to one's financial and personal life, without an insurance buffer, might truly be catastrophic and life long.
At some point, my grown son and I would like to do some DE and other track driving. When my schedule and his career progress allows that, we will buy a car for that specific purpose and insure it specifically for that sort of thing, and free of financial or legal concerns have a ball driving on the edge.
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