Whether it’s to drop off or pick up your kids from school, transport them to lessons and activities around the neighborhood, or simply to grab groceries for the family, having an au pair that can drive is an important thing for many host families!
That’s why we pay special attention to the rules and regulations of putting au pairs safely behind the wheel once they’re in the USA. We want to ensure that both host families and au pairs have peace of mind when using the car.
And even if driving is not an active part of an au pair’s responsibilities, most host families provide their au pair access to a car to meet friends during free time, attend monthly LCC meetings, or travel to class. That’s why it’s essential for families and au pairs to ensure the au pair is given everything they need to succeed on the roads. In this article, we list out some of the ins and outs of preparing an au pair for driving.
Each state has different requirements for overseas visitors who wish to drive. We recommend, however, that au pairs obtain a state license upon arrival regardless of what state they’re in. We advise families who require their au pair to drive to contact the local Registry of Motor Vehicles as soon as they select their final au pair. Host families who require their au pair to drive are responsible for the cost of obtaining a state driver’s license.
Fully Prepared to Get Behind the Wheel
Like many young Americans, au pairs have varied levels of driving experience. We strongly recommend that families talk with their au pair about local driving practices. Take time to familiarize the au pair with the family’s vehicles as well as roads and highways in the area. Many au pairs will not be comfortable driving right away. Families who require their au pairs to drive larger vehicles (SUVs or minivans) should take special care to help their au pair familiarize herself/himself with such an automobile. Many au pairs have never driven cars this large before and may require extra practice. It might take some time for her/him to feel confident about driving in the U.S.
We recommend that au pairs practice before driving the car with children. Au pairs and host families should start by driving together so that au pairs can get accustomed to the car and traffic before starting to drive with the children. If an au pair does not feel comfortable while driving, we encourage them to discuss this with the host family and ask that the host family find time to practice. It is better to be honest than to pay the price of a car accident later.
Host families and au pairs should sit down together and go over car use, from top to bottom. By the end of the discussion, the au pair should know:
- Where the registration and insurance documents are located
- How to operate car seats properly
- How to fill the car with gas and what type of gas to use
- What to do in the case of an accident
- Where she/he is and is not allowed to drive
- Host family’s expectations with regards to mileage, gasoline payments, curfew, acceptable passengers
- The consequences of drinking and driving
Properly Covered by Insurance
If an au pair will be using the host family car for any reason, the family is required to add the au pair to their auto insurance policy and is responsible for the associated costs. Because insurance companies have different requirements (some require a state license or a social security number), we advise host families to look into this as soon as they select their au pair.
By agreeing to allow an au pair use of a family car, the family is taking the risk that the au pair could get into an accident. The au pair’s medical insurance does not provide coverage for any liability or property damage. The family is responsible for ensuring that they have added proper insurance to their own policy if they require the au pair to drive. The au pair’s medical insurance is secondary to the auto insurance policy in case of an accident that results in injury.
If the au pair is involved in a car accident while on duty, which includes travel to and from LCC meetings and classes, the family will be responsible for all associated costs. If the accident occurs while the au pair is off-duty, the au pair is responsible for paying the deductible up to $500. The au pair is not responsible for a deductible of more than $500. Remember, the au pair’s stipend cannot be withheld for this or any reason.
Assessing Driving Skills
We recommend bringing up the topic of driving as early in the process as you can—even in interviews, if you know you’ll want your au pair to drive. The sooner you get talking about it, the sooner you can assess the au pair’s comfort level on the road. You can always talk about driving with your support team at Cultural Care, and again with the au pair as you get ready to finalize your match.
Once your au pair arrives in your home, it’s good to spend some time behind the wheel with them, showing them how the car works, how the roads and signs work, and how they can easily and safely get around. Au pairs driving can make your life a whole lot easier—all it takes is a little research and homework to ensure everyone’s safety!