Author, Daniel Frazee, Vice President, Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc.
Could your company have underlying Auto related exposures that you are not aware of? Let’s assume you have taken several precautions to properly manage the safety of your fleet. But has your management team contemplated potential losses arising from employees operating their own personal vehicles as they relate to your business?
Consider the following examples where an employer can be held accountable as a result of actions of your employees using their own vehicles:
- Field employees on the way to or leaving a jobsite
- Administrative employees running errands to the bank, supply store or post office
- An employee runs out to pick up lunch and/or supplies for the team
- An owner or manager decides to rent a vehicle at an out of town conference
- Outside sales reps are provided a car allowance for business use of their personal autos
- A foreman leaves a jobsite and runs to Home Depot for some tools
If an employee in any of these situations is in an at fault accident while driving their own vehicle, the employer can be held responsible for all damages. Typical Auto liability policies only cover employees while they operate company-owned vehicles that are being used for business purposes. Since this coverage does not contemplate nor cover the use of a hired (rented) or non-owned vehicle, a gap in coverage is created. This gap can be filled for a nominal additional premium, by adding hired and non-owned liability coverage. Specifically, these coverages respond when a company is found legally liable for damages after the employee’s personal auto insurance is exhausted. The employee’s personal auto coverage will always be primary to both the employee and the business assuming it was found that the employee at fault while using their vehicle in the course of employment. Without hired and non-owned liability coverage, a company remains exposed to significant costs depending on the degree of bodily and/or physical damage to the vehicle and other parties involved.
Many employers are simply unaware or unwilling to address this ticking time bomb that is non-owned liability. Several “best practice” control measures can be implemented to reduce this exposure:
- Designate a person within the company that will oversee those employees with a non-owned vehicle exposure
- On a bi-annual or annual basis, require employees driving personal vehicles to provide the proof of valid auto insurance
- Consider establishing company mandated minimum limits that are higher than the CA statutory minimum of $15,000/$30,000/$5,000.
- Consider reimbursing employees for any additional premium incurred for increasing limits on their personal policy to reach minimum limits set by the company
- Enroll all employees driving company and/or personal vehicles in the DMV’s employer pull notice program.
In summary, take time to learn more about hired and non-owned liability coverage and how it can impact your bottom line with exposure to severe auto losses. As a National Best Practice Agency 11 years running, Rancho Mesa takes pride in thorough and exacting policy audits that uncover these and many other silent exposures. Through their continually developing Risk Management Center, they offer clients unmatched support with topical safety resources, monthly workshops & trainings, and valuable content.
Contact Rancho Mesa if you have questions about your auto policy.