View Full Version : Escort to Hell

11-18-2008, 08:27 PM
This is actually a question about shuttling customers from the ticket line to the haunted house. Without writing an entire book on what I'm trying to say, we were toying with the idea of buying an old panel van and remodeling the back interior which could acccomodate approximately 6 to 8 people per trip. Does anyone else do anything similar to this and if so what is the liability risk with insurance??

11-18-2008, 08:58 PM
We bought a shuttle van this year and offered shuttle service for groups of 15 or more if they bought the vip pass. They had to be within a 15 mile radius of the haunted house. This worked great for us since we are in a city with 3 colleges. Not all students have cars and we are outside of town 3 miles. Once the colleges found out we were offering this service they filled the bus quickly and it stayed very busy. I know this is not what you were reffering to but buying a bus was a great investment for us and proved to be well worth it.

11-18-2008, 09:14 PM
Still great to know that something like this worked well for someone! Thanks for the input! Our ticket line will only be like a 1/2 mile away from the haunt but believe that this could resolve some of our issues that we have had in the past. Plus it would help build anticipation and suspense. We are looking for an old style van with no windows (kinda like the mystery machine) and in a poor body condition, rusted preferribly.

My idea is to take them on a hellishly short ride to the middle of no-where and bring them back at the end......or do we? What better way to interactively end their evening!?

11-18-2008, 09:20 PM
There's a haunted "walk in the woods" outside Milwaukee (Bear's Den Haunted Woods) that piles 6-8 in an old diesel hearse. They drive you from their farm into the woods about 1/4 mile. It's so packed in the hearse that you're pretty much laying over people. I went 3 years ago (6 mos. pregnant). Not a good idea either - it was a bumpy ride and the diesel fumes were intoxicating.

But - they got the #1 rating in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this year for the Milwaukee area's #1 Top haunt... and people rave about the whole "being taken by hearse" thing.

Jim Warfield
11-19-2008, 01:02 AM
How much more truly scary it could have been if just one customer was riding in the hearse, and of course were in the coffin!
My customers who come here in the off season (off-full?) are braver than those who protect themselves in the middle of a crowd.

11-19-2008, 06:26 AM
We figured that using a hearse would be a little too uncomfortable with seating so thats why we decided to go with a van instead.

Something like this......


Killer Katie
11-21-2008, 10:03 PM
As for liability, you would need to get Commercial insurance, like a limo service would get. Depending on what the rates are in your area it shouldn't be horribly expensive. But, you definitly need some kind of insurance. Once mishap and they could own your haunt. You might even be able to get a
"rider" to your haunt liability insurance policy. A "rider" is like an amendment to include specific risks.
I am a licensed auto insurance agent, so i do know what I'm chatting about LOL

Jim Warfield
11-22-2008, 06:30 AM
Them to get them to your place, the night is very busy...then the old , nifty, 1953 truck's fuel pump quits......
My Sister and her Husband had a truck like this and they had nothing but trouble keeping it in parts and running and they were not depending upon it for any continuous operation nor for enhancement of their income potential. It was just a old truck that they felt like driving once and awhile.
I have an old , goofy car as an advertising vehicle but the mechainicals are "golden", I spent the money so everything is new underneath from bumper to bumper, I turn the key, it runs and brings me back home in time to open up for house tours.
Most of my life I just had to hope my car would start and keep running when I needed it to.......

Greg Chrise
11-22-2008, 01:27 PM
Chances are this trip to the haunt will be a slow 3 mph traffic jam drive and not a 70 MPH roll over scenario so the possible injuries are very very low. Rather than taking you car insurance to limo level and considering it to be a commercial vehicle, this is yet one more part of you Haunted event insurance package to declare as having some liability. Commercial insurance riders don't honor drivers that don't have commercial diver's licenses.

For the uninformed there are illegal "jitney" services all over the planet and in a court of law a judge just says don't do that anymore for the 30th time. There are no laws against putting a bunch of people in a van. Even if you are smuggling illegal aliens all they do is make everyone get out and go home.

In the instance of old junk vehicles performing well when necessary the resolution is to have 3 of them on stand by rather than just one to depend on. you might use all three or only one at a time.

The one you have pictured doesn't have enough rust on it. You will have to add some faux rust pouring down the sides and snot over the back windows like Jeepers Creepers.

Over time you can take some pretty ragged out vehicles and put totally brand new drive trains and brake systems in from even new trucks.

Perhaps seating inside is hay bales lined along the sides? For effect there are shackles hanging from the ceiling like it is a serial killer van?

I'm not sure how any suit filed would ever own your haunt. No institution is going to accept a pile of plywood and Halloween toys as payment. Again, a judge will siply say don't do that ever again. If you have so many assetts to protect from attorney collections and liens maybe owning a haunted house isn't a wise business to be in. If you have a fear of such judement it comes out to not cheaping out on buying the cheapest commercial liability insurance policy. Prior to an event you are totally transparent as to what is going to take place and pay the rate for realistic coverage.

Being realistic, is someone going to sue for millions because they strained an ankle getting out of a $300 van? Or are they going to be inspired to exercise more and maybe lose some weight?

If you are being advised by someone that sells insurance of course they are going to say you need to spend money with them. If you have real business experience you can assess and even be self insuring on certain matters. A business owner is an entity the same as an insurance company. In some cases an insurance policy is a CONSUMER oriented product.

If you have low liability you just need a stack of cash for possible problems. You can ride a motorcycle with no helmet if you have a $10,000 life insurance voucher.

in a business that has some liability, you rent or lease the property, you rent higher capital equipment or subcontract services. In this day and age you even run employees through fully acredited employment services to provide all tax and liability management.

The most that should happen is this junk van scratched another vehicle that was parked and did $400 damage or that one fat girl out of 4,000 people attending your event twisted her ankle because she hasn't really walked any further than to the refrigerator for the past 4 months and that is all a flat surface. There is no medical treatment beyond a $150 here's an ace bandage at the emergency room try not to walk to the refirgerator for the next 6 weeks.

Oh, then you come to find out you gave an insurance company $1250 up front and they aren't going to pay anything because the deductible is $500 so you have to pay for it yourself anyhow.

I wish someone would some how OWN my haunt. I would start completely over. I would love to see someone else work so hard to haul all this crap off. Alas no one else seems to want it, or want the storage expenses or to work that hard.

There is also a little jurisdiction thing going on. Unless this is a state maintained highway you are on you generally will not be under the scrutiny of state police and Department of Public Safety. So you are under the supervision of a local sherrif or magistrate, even local police who may feel it is bad judgment to put 15 people into a piece of crap van but, don't really have any law to enforce about the situation beyond writing a warning ticket. Then if you have been informed it is officially a problem. Chances are it won't be a problem and is just an odd little fun thing that happens in the community. People really enjoy it and so long as they aren't hurting people it will be allowed.

So, just avoid dragging people by the neck, riding with the doors open and moving at any great speed. Don't cross other roads that have semis driving by at 80 MPH. Don't go over railroad tracks and have fun.

There is a major difference between laws saing you absolutely have to have the minimum liability insurance to travel 10,000 mile to school or work vs. Commercial liability insurance for $300,000 or a million or 4 million dollars. Commercial liability even covers property or injury caused by you vehicles or of someone doing a service for your company or event.

When I had a junk limo, it was just my personal car. The title said it was a Lincoln town car. No one ever said I couldn't have passengers. I wasn't working the wedding circuit and only had liability insurance.

I really don't want to hurt anyone or cause an unfortunate accident but, if it came right down to it, what are they gona do? Take away all my 15 year old equipment that was really worn out 10 years ago and make me go buy new stuff?

I don't condone any irresponcible situation but, many times there are so many people coming up with 50 rules to live by for any given situation. Most of them are hear say rules meant to sell a product or service but, ultimately result in people not moving forward at all while they try to digest whether those are made up rules and whether they apply to this situation.

Yes, your honor, I did ask Bobby to also use his junk van to transport all these unhealthy couch potatoes to our house and I tried to remedy the situation with the complaintant at the time but, I have $400 in my pocket right now to take care of their expenses (which I offered at the time of the occurance) and do not have millions of dollars in viable assets to attatch any thing to. It is a small claim in a small claims court and not a supreme court class action issue sueing every thing scary on the planet for the 2.3 billion made this year.

Ask yourself who made up these rules and why. Even ask the people who are quoting a list of rules. Chances are they are spouting them off o the top of their head and don't have a document to offer that discloses this. Is it a sales tactic that if you spend money will give you piece of mind or is it a definite service that will properly represent you in a time of need?

Killer Katie
11-22-2008, 07:21 PM
Chris... wow.
I am no longer affiliated with any insurance group, but do know the risks associated with being uninsured.
I did suggest that he see if he can attach the rider to his haunt liability policy
Do you know anything about insurance in general? Just curious. I am licensed in 39 states to sell several different types of insurance, and your callousness and disregard for insurance in general disturbs me.
As for the company I worked for, a commercial driver's license is not required for a commercial policy.
Last - the chances of being sued over a sprained ankle are slim. But I can think of 1 million other things that you can be sued over. Did you know that in some states/circumstances that if you hurt someone and their injuries exceed the coverage you have, they can garnish your wages? Bet you didn't!
And there is a big difference in owning a private vehicle with private passengers (ie - friends and family) and having a vehicle where you transport strangers from point a to point b.
Excuse me for erring on the side of caution and advising...God forbid... insurance for a moving vehicle! I must live in a different dimension.
I would venture a guess that you carry the minimum required by law for your own vehicle in your state, and i hope to never cross your path.
And you really didn't have to be such a jerk in your post. A rebuttal could've been much more objective.

Greg Chrise
11-23-2008, 02:53 AM
I'm under the understanding that any one can buy a commercial vehicle policy but, getting a claim paid with out a CDL driver is not going to happen. A commercial drivers license is a federal drivers license. There is no waiver that it will only be for two nights. You either have it or you don't.

I have owned my own businesses for more than 20 years. I can't even garnish my own wages. I'm 50 years old and might know something or perhaps I have been doing things successfully wrong for 30 years. Like affiliating myself with companies and entities that do run millions in insurance. Both for commercial business and the pro haunted houses I do are always for a well funded entity. I have at times had as many as 80 employees and operated a fleet of semi tractor trailers into a tire plant and out 10 trips a day. I have tested explosives (that might require a little insurance) and yes, at the present time have the minimum laibility insurance required by the state even on my work vehicles. I have to pay for these things and at no time forsee sitting in front of congress getting 25 billion. I have driven for more than 30 years without an accident and if such a thing does occur I have spare parts to rebuild my vehicle outside and will unless dead, be back to work in days with the same vehicle.

I'm kind of a doer and a go getter and do not have an employee mindset. I may not know home haunt liability and residential policies. I would love to know. I would love to be informed. That way over 10 years of giving advice on these forums I would know matter of factly but, so far no one has offered anything but fear and propoganda. The real matter of fact is you shouldn't have any strangers come to your house ever. You shouldn't have anyone you are not familiar with in your vehicle. And if you think that way you should not consider having your own business in any shape or form that might encour any liablity what so ever. EVER.

We are talking a man with a potentially 30 year old vehicle, driving probably 15 miles an hour 3 blocks from a parking lot. His personal vehicle to his home and back to the lot. Gee can you even get insurance for a vehicle older than 1986?

I don't know about being a jerk or having a total disregard for insurance or not knowing anything about insurance. I'm not real sure how you think I could form an entire attack on you personally Katie having posted only 5 sentences?

Everything I have done for a living has put me into an industrial or commercial environment and you don't get a check unless you can fax over all the documents. Everything in Texas is pay in full up front. You either have money or you don't. If you don't you aren't going to get paid.

I have based my opinions on talking face to face with over 30 high traffic PRO haunted attraction operators in total confidence and asked point blank, have you had anyone injured, how did that go, what did you have to do. A real world poll suggests no one has forked out any more than $150 ever. That in my mind is a great record. There may be occurance I don't know about. It's maybe non of my business. I really don't think anyone has with held any information from me. The only people that have died were the haunt owners themselves preparing for the season.

A home haunt is going to see only a small fraction of the number of people as a pro haunted house. So where is the Insurance data that back up real world claims from home haunts that will disprove my opinions and findings?

Yes there has been the occasional story of someone injured or killed on a hayride. Falling off of a climbing wall unharnessed. I don't personally know these people and have not had the opportunity to speak with them. It is terrible and unfortunate. They were not home haunts.

For the last 15 years I have installed textured surfaces onto swimming pool concrete decks. A real potential slip hazzard if not installed properly and I have had people call and say I'm having 500 people over and I don't want them slipping on the pool deck. They will sue me. So don't have 500 people over, a swimming pool is not a gymnasium being used for a dance. Or you get insurance just for that event and put rubber mats all over the place. You provide the proper facilities so no one does slip.

Only a doofus like me will render any opinion at all on such a topic. Why would you think the topic of insurance, how much coverage and whether you even have it or not isn't discussed more here?

There is a TV commercial for an insurance company right now that has some kid in a court room, the attorney says insurance will only conver part of the claim and the other council says he'll get their savings for college and other things. So you better call All State so that doesn't happen to YOU!

So, what is propoganda, what is reality, where's the data?

Greg Chrise
11-23-2008, 03:24 AM
Now that I think about it, how do you have a commercial policy that covers the use of your home? Gee, this might be a gray area.

Texas and Arkansas are two states that some major companies won't write policies in for home owners at all. Black mold, Hurricanes and you want to insure something totally avoidable that isn't an act of GOD? How does that work?

How would the combination of commercial insurance, home owners insurance, a liabiltiy policy for say $300,000, upgraded vehicle insurance all work together?

Then how come the people's homes I work on they have to pay for services and they might get reimbursed some percentage? Doesn't that mean you kind of had to have the money to begin with or not do it? Yes it does. I have someone that owes me money right now that thought the insurance company would pay right now on every little sub catagory of work needed to be done. I'm totally screwed out of that money.

Couldn't you kind of provide responsible facilities and behaviors and hope for the best? I guess that's against the law having fun and such.

All I have to do to piss even more people off is adopt a mantra:

FUN First.
Safety Third.

Greg Chrise
11-23-2008, 04:05 AM
Here's some data. A retail store, 10 years I know about. 2,000 people per day that's 730,000 per year. 7.3 million people walked through this store and only one scrawny kid slipped on a newly mopped floor even though wet floor signs were out.

He limped out made a bunch of threatening phone calls about having people fired and sueing. Nothing ever became of it when he found out attorneys aren't free.

7.3million to one. What are the odds?

How many home haunts are there across the country seeing ow many people? How many decades would it take to see 7.3 million people for that one in 7 million chance to happen to you.

Yet, say there are properly insured home owners out there that put up the money every year. How many home haunts are out there? How many are on forums? How many dollars have been added to their home owners policies for special events? Sounds to me like the house wins almost all the time here.

How about prepaid legal services? I can buy a license for that in 48 states for $300 each per year. How would that work?

Greg Chrise
11-23-2008, 04:27 AM
And if you get a commercial driver's license, then you will have to get a CB radio and be able to sing the "Convoy" song. Just to drive 3 blocks. That's one of the rules.

Greg Chrise
11-23-2008, 04:37 AM
This just in.

11-23-2008, 08:05 AM
We plan to do alot to mutilate the van.....by the way, thanks for the shackle idea! We have a train horn, an old diesel smoke stack exhaust, fog lights, lights for the under carriage and a deafening sound system to install. Believe its gonna be nasty when we get it completed and I will definately post pictures!

Wasnt real sure on the type of insurance needed but thanks for some of the suggestions.

We are in a small community and our haunt is on a dead end street. In our case even the road from point A to point B is so isolated from traffic we could possibly close the entire area. We have approximately 6 actors involved that are local law enforcement officers and even more that helps provide security.

The van runs good but we know that we will have to have a back up plan. .....Maybe a truck and trailer hayride just in case something goes wrong or until we can afford a couple more?

We are in no way a pro haunt YET but believe we are heading in a good direction!