Super Bowl Sunday delivers more risk for pizza delivery drivers
Super Bowl Sunday promises to be the busiest day of the year for pizza restaurants. The country’s three big pizza chains — Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s — anticipate taking twice as many orders for pies as they do on any other day, according to PizzaMarketplace.com.
For the drivers delivering those pizzas, Super Bowl Sunday means more tips — along with more risk of being involved in auto accidents and more calls to auto insurance companies about accident claims.
Over the past five years, for instance, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. has seen a 9 percent increase in auto insurance claims arising from pizza delivery accidents on Super Bowl Sunday than on all other days, company spokeswoman Suzanne Meraz tells InsuranceQuotes.com.
“With the volume of business up, there are going to be more accidents,” Meraz says.
|For several years, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. has seen a 9 percent increase in auto insurance claims arising from pizza delivery accidents on Super Bowl Sunday.|
More than 100 million TV viewers are expected to watch FOX Sports’ Sunday telecast of Super Bowl XVL from Arlington, Texas, pitting the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Green Bay Packers.
For all those at-home Super Bowl parties, Pizza Hut predicts it will sell 2 million pizzas, while Domino’s foresees serving 1 million pizzas, those restaurants say. Papa John’s predicts it will deliver 9 million slices. The National Restaurant Association says about 55 percent of Super Bowl viewers order food, with 65 percent of them picking pizza.
“More customers order a pizza for the big game than do for any other holiday or occasion throughout the year, including New Year’s Eve, Halloween and the night before Thanksgiving,” says Alicia Kelso, editor of PizzaMarketplace.com. “What can you say – football fans want things easy, cheap and convenient.”
That puts a big load on pizza delivery drivers and auto insurance companies.
A delivery driver’s personal auto insurance policy typically won’t cover an accident that happens while he’s shuttling pizzas to and from the store, leaving the restaurant liable for damages. To offset the risk, restaurants take out excess non-owned auto insurance – in other words, delivery insurance.
Meraz says Fireman’s Fund underwrites about one-fifth of delivery insurance policies nationwide. The company’s top auto insurance claims for pizza delivery — on Super Bowl Sunday and throughout the year — involve rear-ending, following too closely, excessive speeding and distracted driving, she says.
Restaurants should carry at least $1 million in liability coverage in case of an accident in a delivery vehicle that the restaurants do not own, Meraz says. Such coverage can cost thousands of dollars a year. History suggests that even $1 million worth of coverage may not be enough, though.
In May 1993, Domino’s paid $2.8 million to the family of Susan Wauchop, a 41-year-old Indiana woman who was killed by a Domino’s delivery driver. In December 1993, a St. Louis jury awarded $79 million to 49-year-old Jean Kinder after she was seriously injured by an 18-year-old Domino’s driver who ran a red light and collided with her vehicle. A week later, Domino’s founder and owner Tom Monaghan cited the legal action as one of the reasons the company dropped its 30-minutes-or-less guarantee, promising consumers $3 off the price of a pizza if it didn’t arrive within 30 minutes.
Auto accidents spike on Super Bowl Sunday
It turns out that all types of motorists — not just pizza delivery drivers and people involved in accidents with those drivers — are at risk on the roads on Super Bowl Sunday.
A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine tracked driving deaths on 27 consecutive Super Bowl Sundays. Researchers discovered a 41 percent jump in the number of fatalities in the hours after the game than in the same time period on all other Sundays.
|For Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s, the volume of pizza delivery on Super Bowl Sunday will be twice that of any other day.|
The study also reported that the number of crashes in the state of the losing team rose 68 percent after the game, compared with an increase of just 6 percent in the winner’s state. Although the study was released in 2003, it’s still widely quoted in news reports about fatal accidents on Super Bowl Sunday.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about four of every 10 fatal work-related injuries involve transportation. Pizza delivery falls under a group that experienced 586 work-related deaths in 2009, or about 18 deaths for every 100,000 full-time workers. Some of these deaths were murders and on-the-job accidents.
“It’s important for companies to find ways to be efficient, because there is a fine line between guaranteeing an order delivers on time and compromising the safety of their drivers. If that means footing the bill for more delivery staff, then so be it,” says Kelso, the PizzaMarketplace.com editor.
“Companies should also communicate the necessities of safety, as driver behavior and recklessness reflect the entire brand. The alternatives to taking these proactive approaches are potential accidents and injuries, and also insurance liabilities that can snowball and ultimately affect the company.”