Here’s a little-known fact: Your employees’ car insurance can cost the whole company if the coverage is too low. All it takes is a single car accident. In this post, we'll show you how to protect your organization through a set of guidelines for employees' auto insurance.
A guide to employees' personal car insurance
What does the average employee’s car insurance have to do with his or her employer? Nothing – if the employee never drives a car during the workday. But any time that employee gets behind the wheel as part of the job, auto insurance becomes the boss’s business.
In the case of a company car, the employer sets the auto insurance policy. But when it comes to personal vehicles driven for business purposes, a lot of companies don’t even think about their employees’ car insurance. However, these employees are still driving on company business during business hours and are exposing the company to the same risks as employees using company cars. If left unaddressed, insufficient insurance coverage could become an Achilles heel.
The danger of ignoring employees’ car insurance
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the most dangerous part of the workday for any employee is the time spent behind the wheel. Some employees face risk constantly as they drive from client to client or from site to site. But even employees that work out of an office face this danger. The commute home from an appointment and the drive from home to an appointment both count as part of the workday.
The fact is, a car accident occurs every 5 seconds, and someone is injured in a car accident every 10 seconds. As an employer with employees in the field you have a responsibility to protect your employees and your company. If an employee driving a personal vehicle causes an accident during the workday and the employee’s auto insurance cannot cover the costs of injuries and property damage, guess who may be held liable for the difference. Yes, you – the employer. (It's called vicarious liability.)
Here's how it works. Every insurance policy consists of a set of limits to how much the insurance company will pay out in the event of an accident. Coverage is typically summarized by three big limits: injury costs per person, injury costs per accident, and property damage. A 25/75/25 policy would cover the driver up to $25,000 per injured person, $75,000 in total injuries, and $25,000 in property damage. If the driver causes a total cost of $100,000 in injuries and $50,000 in property damage, then someone is going to be on the hook for $50,000 – and it might just be your company if the driver is your employee.
How to address insufficient employee car insurance
To address this hidden relationship between an employee’s car insurance and a company’s risk, first understand why employees elect to procure insufficient insurance. It all comes down to cost control and risk aversion. Most states set very low minimum required insurance coverage. And many individuals buy lower limits because they want to save money and they’re not worried about the risk.
A lot of people could fit that description. And they may be working for you right now.
1. Set minimum required car insurance for all employees who operate vehicles as part of the workday.
As a general rule companies should not let their employees on the road without carrying a minimum coverage of 100/300/50. Best practice, however, would be a 250/500/100 policy.
Wait...can an employer really require employees to carry higher insurance coverage on a personal vehicle?
Yes, an employer can require employees to carry a specific amount of auto insurance coverage on their personal vehicle. The key, though, is that the employer pays for the upgrade by incorporating the higher insurance premium into the employee car allowance or vehicle reimbursement. That's only fair, right?
2. Verify employees’ auto insurance coverage every six months.
A minimum auto insurance requirement means nothing if the employee doesn’t adhere to it, or worse, lets insurance coverage lapse. Most policies renew every six months, so that's when you want to check up on their coverage.
But isn't it micromanaging to require proof of an employee's auto insurance?
The fact is, if employees are driving personal vehicles as part of their job, they have implicitly agreed to allow the company some oversight of that personal vehicle. It's too big of a risk for the company not to require proof of an employee's car insurance coverage. Plus, as we'll see below, this also protects the employee. (Here's how to obtain an employee's insurance declarations page.)
Just remember to be fair with the car allowance or reimbursement. Make sure to boost it when you set or raise the minimum insurance requirement. And communicate the increased car allowance or reimbursement to employees to show fairness and good will.
Protect your business and your employees with a car insurance policy
If your employees do not have adequate coverage in the event of a work related auto accident, you could be responsible for the claim. Not only does this expose your company’s bottom line – it also exposes your company’s reputation. More than that, it creates a serious conflict between the employee and the employer. This messy situation should be avoided at all costs.
By requiring employees to maintain sufficient auto insurance and verifying their compliance, you protect both the company and your employees.
Contact us for more information on how to mitigate your company’s exposure and monitor employee insurance policies efficiently and cost-effectively.