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January 2019 – Brooker Insurance Agency
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January 2019

insuring delivery drivers

What You Need to Know About Insuring Delivery Drivers

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Drivers in any state are required to carry adequate insurance to cover any type of driving they do. While you might think that would settle the issue of responsibility in the case of an accident it’s not quite that simple. Several scenarios and reasons exist where the drivers do not receive the brunt of the attention. That remains true even when they caused the accidents. If your business relies on delivery drivers, learn what you need to know about insuring them.


How Laws Name Employers Liable for Employee Crashes

The legal principle that holds employers responsible for employee crashes is respondeat superior, defined by FindLaw here. Much like an employee injury on the job site, such as in a factory or on a showroom floor, the law sees the delivery person as on-the-job. That means, regardless of where they are, they are working for you. According to the law, they are at work. Therefore, the laws that make you responsible for an employee slip-and-fall also make you responsible for a car accident with a delivery driver. How much responsibility do you have to shoulder? That is debatable and can go case by case. While you might not have to carry any of the responsibility in some cases, the door that leads to you is open.


How Responsible Are You for Your Delivery Driver Accidents?

If your delivery driver is carrying adequate insurance, you might be off the hook entirely. Does that sound like a good idea? It does to us too. If your driver’s insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the accident, then you will probably have to bear some of the financial responsibility. That can happen if the damage or injuries are especially egregious and therefore costly. It can also happen if your drivers don’t have adequate insurance. If their insurance carriers do not know they are using their vehicle for work, the drivers might receive no coverage at all. They might even have their policy canceled for not informing the insurance companies of their actual vehicle usage. In either of those cases, the next stop up the chain of command is you.


Whose Car Was the Delivery Driver Using at the Time of the Accident?

If the driver used his or her own car, then the first stop will be that driver’s carrier. If the car belongs to your company, then you are going to share the responsibility for the collision claim. Company vehicles put the employee more squarely in the work environment, per the law. If you’re employees are driving your vehicles, you most definitely need adequate insurance to cover the claims resulting from auto accidents.


Insurance Claims Follow the Money

When it comes to collecting on a claim, insurance companies will often go after the bigger fish. That is always going to be the employer. When the amount of a claim is high, even proper delivery driver insurance will may not cover the cost. Insurance companies and lawyers are not prone to sit back and let such matters rest. They will seek settlement of the claim from the more financially fit party. Per simple economics, the company owner is always more financially powerful than the employee. You should always have the coverage you need to compensate for driver collisions. Anything less is a recipe for disaster.


What You Need to Do About Insuring Delivery Drivers

Your drivers need their own insurance. It should cover them when they use their own car as a work vehicle and it should cover them properly when they use yours. You should demand that they have such coverage in order to work for you. That alone will reduce your liability considerably. Secondly, plan for the worst case scenario. If your drivers get into accidents, some of the blame and financial responsibility is going to land on you. It’s the way the system is built. You need the kind of insurance that buffers you against such liabilities. 


IMAGE: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

motorcoach company's safety ranking

Ways to Improve Your Motorcoach Company’s Safety Ranking

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Last October, the Cornell Daily Sun reported that a charter bus operated by Ithaca, N.Y.-based Big Red Bullet crashed in Pennsylvania, killing one passenger and injuring the driver as well as the remaining 12 passengers. The driver faced 33 criminal charges, including Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence. As of this writing — and according to the FMCSA Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system — the company may not operate.

While this is a worst-case scenario, it does serve as a cautionary tale about the value of a motorcoach company’s safety ranking. Here’s what you can do to improve your company’s safety ranking and ensure it remains positive.


Choose Your Motorcoach Drivers Carefully

Returning to Big Red Bullet for a moment, the Cornell Daily Sun also reported that the driver of the bus that crashed not only fell asleep at the wheel but was later found to have traces of cocaine in his system.

Your bus drivers are arguably your most important assets when it comes to motorcoach safety. Always validate the drivers’ safety records. Check for up-to-date CDL licenses and medical fitness to operate a motorcoach. Also conduct background checks. When conducting them yourself, you might not be able to access the correct information. Instead, outsource this to a provider that specializes in conducting background checks.

Credit reporting agency TransUnion said that a traditional background check will include motor vehicle records, the element most important to you. Also look check a prospective employee’s credit report for signs of irresponsible behavior. “Any missed payments or bankruptcies could signal signs of being irresponsible elsewhere, and negatively separate you from the competition,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst writing for CNBC Make It. Check for criminal history as well.

Remember, though — you have to ask the applicant for permission to do a background check.


Address Vehicle Maintenance Issues

Just like an automobile, a motorcoach in good working order will operate more safely than one in poor physical condition. And just like a car, your motorcoach comes with an owner’s manual that recommends service intervals for key items. Make proper engine oil changes a top priority for ongoing motorcoach maintenance, followed by oil and air filter changes.

Note where the rubber literally hits the road — your vehicles’ tires. Get them regularly inspected and rotated. Regular tire rotation and alignment will result in better tread wear, and thus longer tire life. And, of course, replace the tires when they wear out.

You can expect tire maintenance to be somewhat costly — a spokesperson for Goodyear in an article for Transport Topics called it the second most costly fleet maintenance expense behind fuel. However, it confers a financial benefit. Specifically, well-maintained tires reduce fuel consumption. Fleet Equipment says that, for every 10% a tire is underinflated, there will be a corresponding 1% decrease in fuel economy. Applied across several tires on a vehicle — and several vehicles in a fleet — it’s easy to see how tire maintenance improves your bottom line.


Ensure you Comply with Regulations

The FMCSA factors both driver fitness and vehicle maintenance into your overall safety rating. But there are a few other safety areas defined by the FMCSA that also apply to motor coach companies:

  • Unsafe Driving
  • Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol

Hopefully if you find and hire good drivers, both unsafe driving and drug or alcohol abuse will not become issues. However, many companies run afoul of HOS compliance. Simply put, you can’t work your drivers to death. They can only drive so many hours in a day, and they are required to sleep a certain number of hours each day. Federal codes  CFR 392 and 395 address this

Fortunately, you need not ever find yourself with a poor safety rating from the FMCSA. They provide a myriad of tools to help motor coach operators meet safety standards and improve if they find they are falling behind. The provide a Motor Carrier Safety Planner that makes it easy to research and implement safety protocols for motorcoach companies.


IMAGE: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain