Restaurants May be Allowed to Use Staff Members to Deliver Takeout Orders

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The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) has issued a memorandum that may allow restaurants to use staff members to deliver takeout food.

The memorandum, from commissioner David Altmaier, in part asks for “the removal of exclusions on certain personal auto exclusions.” That segment of the memo from OIR, which was issued Wednesday, reads:

“In furtherance of the state’s efforts to limit large gatherings while remaining open, many restaurants and other businesses are offering delivery of goods and services. As a result, many insureds may be temporarily utilizing their personal automobile for purposes that might otherwise be considered commercial use. Regulated entities are encouraged to consider allowing such use for insureds, provided that such use is limited to the duration of the Emergency Orders.”

Encouraged is the operative word there, not ordered. It will be up to the individual insurance companies to decide if they will to follow the recommendation. In Wisconsin, the governor and insurance commissioner issued an order for insurance companies to cover delivery services for restaurants on personal auto insurance policies, and to offer coverage for those drivers on a restaurant’s general liability insurance.

Florida State representative Ann V. Eskamani told me that the larger insurance companies seem to be more open to allowing the use of personal cars for work than smaller insurers.

On Tuesday I asked restaurant owners if they were using idle staff members, such as servers, to deliver takeout orders. Several said they would like to offer the service – and give the staff the chance to work and earn tips – but they found the insurance rider that would be necessary to cover the drivers too expensive. Most that offer delivery use third party service, such as Uber Eats or Grubhub, which take a significant percentage of the restaurant's charge for the food.

This may be the solution, at least as long as the governor’s executive Emergency Order is in place.

Restaurant owners who want to offer this service should contact their insurance representative.

Restaurateurs: Let me know if you get the go-ahead from your insurance company. And especially let me know if your insurance company declines to follow the OIR’s recommendation.