Volunteers – car insurance

Morning, everyone!

This somewhat wide-ranging article was on Yahoo:


Just the sort of thing to deter a prospective volunteer. But has anyone come across being a volunteer per se affecting premiums/claims, as cited by the article?

Thank you so much for sharing this article, Anne. It is highly disturbing and deserves wide attention.

I have not heard of this happening in the U.S., but am going to check into it because it may well be one of those insidious hidden insurance traps here, too. Americans have been fighting the charitable vs. business driving battle in a different way: the income tax deduction for auto business miles is $.52 but it is only $.14 for charitable driving! (There are dumb reasons for this, which I explain in a 2008 Hot Topic at https://www.energizeinc.com/hot-topics/2008/july). The real problem comes in, however, if an organization reimburses a volunteer more than 14 cents a mile: the volunteer is liable for income tax on the extra amount!! Not that anyone reports this, but it could come out in an audit.

Yes, and our politicians also love volunteering.

In a previous job I did come across insurers charging a higher premium if someone volunteered whilst driving their own car. This was mainly a consequence of such usage being classed as ‘business’. It has also been good practice for a long time to ensure volunteers notify their insurers if they use their own car whilst volunteering as non-disclosure could void insurance, for example if they ended up using social domestic and pleasure insurance for business purposes in the eyes of the insurer. That could then lead to criminal charges for failing to drive without valid insurance.

The additional premiums issue should be resolved by the agreement mentioned in the article, something VE lobbied hard for.

However, what’s new here is that doing voluntary work, but not using your car, could invalidate insurance if the insurer isn’t told because the person would be in the wrong category of occupation.

This seems rather OTT to me and, as the author points out, when does someone’s occupation change because of their volunteering?

Perhaps another one for VE to address and possible for VE, AVM etc. to raise with the OCS regarding their desire to cut red tape in volunteering?

I’ve just been to an England Volunteering Development Council meeting and the Volunteering England Policy team have indeed picked up on this story today and I believe have contacted the insurer for a statement. Following August’s agreement with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) there is also a continued working group of representatives from the Voluntary and Community Sector who are continuing to meet with ABI to iron out other insurance issues that can/do affect us. The Policy team at VE have the details of who is leading the group and how to contribute any issues you wish to raise.

Even though many insurers made the commitment to cover voluntary work they do need to be informed (better but not great). There is a good VE form to provide for potential volunteers to send to their insurers.

Despite this I have encountered two instances in the last 6 months in which insurers have said that there would be an additional cost to cover volunteer activity. This in itself might risk putting volunteers off but if anyone else experiences this you might want to cite these as examples. The first volunteer changed their insurer and ended up paying less for more cover and the second cancelled and restarted their policy with the same insurer (ridiculous in itself) but received M&S vouchers for their trouble. Not ideal I realise but these examples might stop a potential volunteer from being dissuaded before hopefully common sense prevails.