Driving Your Car on the Job? Discuss These 2 Things With the Family First

You've been an Application Warrior during your job hunt. You've scoured the Care.com website for jobs that fit your interests and skills. Youve taken certification classes to boost your rsum. You've been doing everything right. And finally, you find the PERFECT caregiving job for you!

And then they tell you that they need you to drive the kids to and from practice, and to run errands every once in a while. I have a car, you say. And I'm totally okay with using it!

But no matter how okay you are with driving on the job, you need to be aware of the liability risks that can come with such a request. Specifically, you need to find out what you -- and your potential employers -- are getting yourselves into when it comes to mileage reimbursement and car insurance.

Mileage Reimbursement

You first need to determine if your mileage will be paid for or not. Its a tiny detail, but it can create a lot of tension down the road if you and your employers arent on the same page.

Many people dont realize that the IRS sets a mileage reimbursement rate for employees who are required to drive their own vehicles while on the clock. Household employees generally aren't included in this requirement -- although a few states do mandate it -- but most families reimburse their caregiver anyway, no matter where they live.

We recommend using the federal mileage reimbursement rate, which covers the cost of gas and general wear and tear on your car. Keep in mind that this is only for the miles you drive while on the job -- it doesn't cover your commute to and from the family's home.

Discuss this with your potential employers as soon as possible so you know what their expectations are for reimbursement. Based on their answer, you can then decide if this job really is the right fit for you.

Car Insurance Coverage

Things can also get dicey when it comes to car insurance coverage. Potential employers could simply assume your coverage is adequate and never give it a second thought. But if it turns out that your coverage isn't enough, you both could be in for a world of headaches.

Every state has its own laws for car insurance, as well as requirements for minimum coverage for liability and property damage. On top of this, each insurance company can decide what kinds of nonessential provisions will be included under someones coverage. (FYI: Using a car for business purposes rather than personal falls under this category.) Just keep in mind that the provisions covered by one insurance company arent necessarily covered by another, so both you and your employers need to figure out if your driving would be covered under one of your plans.

Another thing you should know about is vicarious liability. This just means that employers can be liable for the acts of their employees. For example, say you were involved in an accident. The other party tries to sue you for things like medical bills and lost wages, and it turns out that your insurance wont pay out enough to cover this. Your employers could then be held responsible for the balance because theyre vicariously liable for the actions of their employee -- a.k.a. you.

The good news? This nightmarish scenario is easy to avoid. All you have to do is have the conversation with your employers NOW. Contact your insurance agent to figure out what your plan actually covers, and encourage the family to do the same. Then, sit down with them and their agent so you can review your plans side-by-side. The agent can then build a customized recommendation that is mutually beneficial and puts everyones minds at ease.

This may seem really complicated, but the experts at HomePay are used to helping caregivers and families navigate these issues. When you start working for a family, have them contact HomePay for a free consultation at 888-273-3356. Theyll make sure payroll, taxes and HR topics are taken care of before your first day of work.