Many non-profit agencies rely on volunteer drivers to transport people in need. As federal funds dry up, that need increases. The need increases and the supply of drivers is drying up. Many cite a fear that their insurance premiums will increase or their policy will be voided if they have an accident while volunteering. New Jersey lawmakers are moving to eliminate that possibility.
”It’s the fear factor. We have cases where people volunteered, went through the training and were three weeks into driving when they suddenly think, ‘My God, what about my insurance?’ And then they pull out,” said Grace Egan, executive director of the New Jersey Foundation for the Aging. ”We’ve met with the Insurance Council of New Jersey and they’ve told us they do not impose a surcharge on the rates of people who volunteer to drive,” added Egan.
Democratic Sen. Robert Gordon and Democratic Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored a bill that would protect volunteer drivers at charities from having their New Jersey car insurance rates raised because of their volunteer work, while also limiting their liability in case of an accident knowing that there really isn’t a need for it. The purpose of the proposed law is to reassure potential volunteers that their insurance would be protected.
The hope of the law is that fears will be eased and more people will volunteer. People in need are missing doctor’s appointments and other services because there is no one to drive them where they need to go, simply out of unfounded fear.