Non-Profit Use of Non-Owned & Hired Autos
Have you thought about (and planned for) what one of the main exposures is to a church and/or non-profit organization? Sometimes “lost in the cracks” of a church’s ministry is the use of personally owned autos for “church business”.
Just because the auto being used in your business is not owned by the church (or other non-profit) does not mean that you won’t be held responsible for it’s operation. I recently spotted a great article by Philadelphia Insurance Press here for article that looked at 4 large losses involving use of non-owned or rented autos, and what the factors were that contributed to the claim. Key factors found missing were proper screening of drivers; no formal policy in place outlining use of personal autos; no company policy for minimum (personal) liability limits; no pre-trip inspection of the vehicle was done; and no specific driver training was done.
So, what should you do from here to make sure your church or non-profit operates non-owned autos as safely as possible? We recommend:
1. Screen your drivers and make sure that they are qualified to safely operate the vehicle in question.
2. Make sure that personal autos used running your errands have adequate liability limits (I would suggest a minimum of $300K), and perhaps ask for a copy of their insurance declarations page for your file.
3. Train your drivers to drive defensively.
4. Evaluate your drivers with a process including a test out on the open road.
5. Develop a pre-trip inspection routine that is followed each time and every time.
Clearly it’s better to spend a few minutes now rather than “hope for the best”.