Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Protect Volunteer Drivers Who Transport Seniors

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to protect volunteer drivers from being denied auto coverage or paying extra for car insurance premiums simply because the driver is a volunteer driver. House Bill 1378 also prohibits insurers from imposing a surcharge on or increasing the rate for a vehicle policy solely due to the fact one or more of the vehicle’s drivers is a volunteer driver.

“Many seniors rely on others when they need to go to the grocery store, pick up prescriptions or visit the doctor, and it is important that their volunteer drivers have the insurance coverage they need,” said Governor Quinn. “This legislation clears hurdles for the volunteer drivers who are helping our seniors maintain their independence.”

Illinois is home to more than 2 million adults ages 60 and older. Through the Department on Aging, the state administers programs to assist the most vulnerable seniors in remaining independent. With more seniors relying on transportation services to remain active and independent, a number of alternative transportation programs for seniors have been established in Illinois.

One such program is the Independent Transportation Network America (ITN), a public-private partnership with 16 affiliates in 12 states. The ITN service allows seniors who are unable or no longer wish to drive to donate their cars to ITN in exchange for rides from volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many ITN volunteer drivers use their own vehicles to transport or run errands for seniors.

Volunteer drivers must verify that they hold the proper liability insurance, but differing policies among insurers have in some cases limited the number of available drivers; HB 1378 removes an impediment to the operation of nationally-affiliated transportation networks.

This legislation will help expand the pool of volunteer drivers for organizations operating in the City of Chicago and the counties of Bureau, Henderson, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, McDonough, Mercer, Putnam, Rock Island and Warren. While insurers in these areas may not refuse or impose a surcharge based solely upon volunteer driver status, HB 1378 does not prevent the insurer from considering factors other than volunteer status when issuing policies or setting rates for volunteer drivers.

House Bill 1378, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Lyons (D-Chicago) and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), goes into effect immediately.