If you're a small business owner, there are many risks to consider, and one of those is letting your employees drive for work-related errands. Accidents happen, and if your employee is responsible, you can be held responsible. If your employees drive to complete work-related activities, you must check out these four important facts.
It's Your Job to Hire Smart Drivers and Promote Safety
As an employer, it's your responsibility to ensure the employees you allow on the road for work-related business are safe drivers. The best way to do this is to check employee's driving record and make sure they have a current active license. In addition, you must promote safe driving. This means that you have safe-driving policies, educate employees on safe driving and hold them accountable.
On the downside, even if you hire good drivers and promote safe driving, if an employee does cause a car accident while on the job, you'll probably still be held responsible. This is because of vicarious liability. Basically, it means that since the employee works for you, any work-errand can be traced back to you. Of course, it's still a good idea to ensure you have safe drivers because insurance companies and courts will be less lenient if they see you didn't care enough to ensure road safety.
Personal Errands and Obvious Negligence Aren't Covered
There are some instances in which you won't be held responsible for your employee's actions. First, if your employee is running a personal errand during work hours, that isn't your responsibility. In fact, in those instances, the employee probably won't even qualify for worker's compensation. This is cut and dry if the employee just ran out to grab a coffee, but it gets more complicated if the employee was running a work errand and stopped to get a coffee on the way back to the office.
Another time you won't be held responsible for your employee's actions is if they purposely broke the law and caused a severe accident. For example, if an employee developed road rage and purposely rammed into another car to cause injury, you aren't responsible.
If You Have Company Owned Cars, Get Commercial Auto Insurance
Any business that owns company cars needs commercial auto insurance. This doesn't just include business trucks and vans for construction workers, it also includes sedans and any vehicle that is legally owned by the business. If an employee borrows your personal car to run work errands, a commercial auto insurance policy is not necessary because you legally own the car, not the business.
Commercial auto insurance has some great benefits bundled with it, such as business interruption coverage, which means you get reimbursed for an injured employee's pay. On the downside, however, commercial auto insurance is expensive because the insurance company assumes a lot of different people will be driving the vehicle.
If Your Employees Drive Their Own Cars for Work, Get a Non-Owned Policy
A lot of small businesses don't bother buying company vehicles for work errands. If an employee needs to run an errand, they just take their own car. If they cause an accident, their personal insurance may be enough to cover any costs. However, in many cases, the personal insurance carrier refuses to pay because the employee was driving for work-related business, making it the employer's responsibility.
This is where a non-owned policy can help. A non-owned policy covers cars that aren't owned by the company but are used for business reasons. In other words, it covers the employee's personal vehicles when they are driving for work-related errands. With a non-owned policy, even if the employee's personal insurance refused to pay, you'll still be covered.
You won't always be held responsible when an employee causes a car accident, but it's better to be safe than sorry. If you let your employees drive for work, it's time to boost your auto coverage. For more information about commercial auto insurance or a non-owned policy, contact an insurance agent or broker in your area today.