Mike Nieto leaves Jackson Creek Pizza for a delivery Thursday. - Jamie Lusch

Insuring pizza drivers is costly

Edward Algeo has earned a living delivering a variety of print publications over the years, so when he saw an ad for a pizza delivery job he thought it was right up his alley.

Algeo, 41, interviewed for the job at the north Medford Pizza Hut on Biddle Road last Wednesday and reported for training on Friday.

Wanting to be on the safe side, Algeo asked his insurance agent if his policy covered pizza delivery. He was told his standard policy didn't and decided it wasn't in his best interest to pursue the job.

"I called pretty much all of the (insurance companies) in the book," Algeo said. "My liability insurance does not cover pizza delivery. M ost said they don't insure pizza deliverers and if they do it's real expensive."

While commercial driving rates — newspaper carriers and real estate agents fall into the same category — are higher than those in standard policies, for some insurers, there was a greater risk for Algeo. Drivers like Algeo older than 25 might find themselves working for pennies on the dollar just to operate legally.

Algeo's insurance agent, Carol Dombrowsky at Mr. D's Insurance Inc., said most lines she represents avoid writing policies for delivery people.

"When a person buys insurance from us, we have them sign a disclaimer that the policy is not for commercial use; it's not covered in any way and a lot of people don't realize that," Dombrowsky said. "Insurance companies don't want you to use your vehicle, especially delivering pizza, so it's real expensive."

Dombrowsky said she calculated that a typical delivery person would make 37 cents an hour after factoring in insurance, gas and wear and tear on the delivery car.

One year of coverage on Algeo's 1974 Ford Courier pick-up would cost $1,181 with Progressive Auto Insurance, she said. "For a 17- or 18-year-old, it would have been triple that."

While there is really no way of getting around the expense for drivers older than 25, there are less expensive options for younger drivers.

Russell Brown, an agent with State Farm Insurance, said the company altered its course several years ago and began covering drivers younger than 25 to do delivery jobs. Once they reach 25, however, they are required to switch to commercial policies.

"If there is a person under the age of 25, they get charged the regular youthful operator rate," Brown said. "If you are a kid on your parents' policy, you are paying more than your parents already. We might have 10 kids working for the same pizza place, but we don't insure the business itself."

He said State Farm has changed its approach from when he worked in a claims office in 1993.

"We didn't do pizza delivery — period," Brown said. "But apparently there have not been a lot of accidents, or not enough to make a big deal out of it."

Tina Meyer, who handles human resource issues for the region's Pizza Huts out of San Ramon, Calif., said beyond requiring delivery drivers to have cars and insurance, the company carries additional insurance "to provide excess automobile liability insurance."

Jason Osborne, general manager at the north Medford Pizza Hut, said the question of insurance has rarely come up in his 20 years in the pizza business.

If all insurance companies required commercial liability for younger employees, Osborne said. "It could shut down food service (delivery) nationwide. It's a (pizza) industry standard just to require a good driving record and an insured car."

Gil Clopton, who manages the Papa John's Pizza in Blue Sky Plaza, said he's worked for a couple of different national chains in his career, and they take the same general approach.

"We have a four- or five-page explanation of our auto insurance requirements for drivers to read and sign off on," Clopton said. "They provide the primary insurance and we cover the secondary. If for example, there was $10,000 in damage and their liability covered the first $5,000 of damage, I'm pretty sure our franchise insurance would pick up the $5,000 after that."

Beyond that, he said, Papa John's encourages drivers to go 5 mph under posted speeds.

"We wouldn't fire them if they drove the speed limit, but we emphasize following traffic laws," Clopton said. "Whenever anyone goes out the door we tell them to buckle up and drive safe. Around Halloween we require our drivers to use emergency flashers when they go into subdivisions."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or at

Share This Story