Before renting a party bus for your next big event, make darn sure the bus you're renting and the party bus company has the proper type of insurance. All legit party bus companies will have their respective DOT numbers on the side of the bus. You can use the DOT number to perform a lookup to make sure the bus company's filings are up to date and they have the proper insurance coverage. Because party bus insurance is relatively expensive, or at least a large cost component in the operation of the party bus business, many shady operators will try to dodge their responsibility to protect clients in case of an accident.
Another advantage of checking the DOT number is you can see how many times a driver or party bus was place "out of service." There are many reasons a bus could be placed out of service, albeit as a general rule, you don't want to be riding on a bus or having a bus driven when one or the other isn't safe.
As a general rule, a bus that can hold 16 or more people and is crossing state lines (including leaving the country) should have at least $5 million in bodily injury and property damage coverage (along with other coverages including physical damage for the vehicles, albeit as a rider, you're not so concerned with the damage to the party bus).
Think of it this way. Your private personal auto insurance likely doesn't have over $500,000 in liability coverage and you probably think you're paying a lot for that. Now bring that up to $5 million in coverage for a commercial vehicle and you can just imagine how much a party bus costs to insure. That's why you have to be careful and perform some due diligence before simply assuming the operator has the right type and a satisfactory amount of insurance coverage.
And if you think that renting a bus will save you money, you may be in for a serious surprise if you don't know that your homeowners and personal auto insurance won't cover losses for many types of accidents. You'll want to speak with your insurance agent and likely an attorney before signing your name to any party bus rental agreement. Otherwise, you may have risks you never bargained for. As an example, according to the StarTribune, some places including Saint Paul Minnesota place an adult (often the person signing the rental agreement) liable for anything that goes wrong. For some people, signing the document means they're only one accident away from having to declare bankruptcy.
Few things will ruin your event faster than having the party bus you rented pulled over to the side of the road and having the passengers told they need to exit the vehicle and find another form of transportation. Unfortunetly, it happens much more often than it should.
The above video depicts a student after spending over $700 on a bus rental during October 2017.
In the Denver Colorado area, a news investigation discovered at least 65 percent of registered charter bus and limousine companies were not legally authorized to operate.
It didn't take me long to find another party bus problem just south of Wisconsin in the Chicago Ill area. In Chicago, according to ABC news, 17, yes 17 party bus companies were ordered to cease and desist operations. The primary motivation for the order to cease and desist stems from lack of licensing for the bus companies. Reasons also included lack of proper insurance and drivers that couldn't legally drive the party busses.
Bottom line, regardless if you're going to rent a bus or rent a full service party bus experience, make sure you verify who you're dealing with and what your rights and responsibilities are ahead of time.