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Non-owned auto and volunteers – Don’t let them crash!

By Heather Brown
August 18, 2017

Volunteers are one of the biggest assets your nonprofit needs to successfully carry out its mission. Chances are you rely on them to carry out tasks onsite and offsite. Volunteers often drive their personal vehicle to run errands, attend events, or transport children or seniors. If you rely on volunteers for these types of tasks, you are at risk to be sued or held liable for what goes wrong on the road. Car accidents, big and small, cost money. Every dollar you spend on repairing vehicles or paying for medical expenses takes away from funding your mission.

You can protect your nonprofit in these circumstances by creating a safe driving program and investing in non-owned auto insurance.

Volunteer Safe Driving Program

A safe driving program is a set of policies and procedures that you expect volunteers driving on behalf of your nonprofit to follow. There are six pieces to a quality safe driving program:

  • Driver screening process.

 

Driving responsibilities should not be available for all your volunteers. Screening potential drivers with a multi-step process is the best way to protect your nonprofit. Questions to ask include:

  • Do they have a valid driver’s license?
  • Do they have experience?

In addition to questions, request a motor vehicle record that shows their driving history, references that can confirm their safe driving ability, and a background check. Some nonprofits also require a driving test before accepting new drivers.

  • Safe driving statement.

 

A safe driving statement clearly defines what you expect from your drivers. Items like following and obeying traffic laws, signs, and emergency personnel should be included. Addressing a no aggressive driving stance and zero-tolerance for drug and alcohol use should be included too.

  • Cell-phone use policy.

 

It seems like everybody has a cell phone these days, and since one in four accidents is caused by cell phone use, a policy is necessary. Any form of communication on a cell phone while driving is dangerous. Clearly define that no cell phones are to be used while driving on behalf of your nonprofit. A sample cell phone use policy can be found here.

  • Steps to take when an accident occurs.

 

Accidents can happen even with a safety program. In those moments, stress takes over leaving volunteers panicked. Provide them with a list of steps to take in the event of an accident. Include who to call, what information to gather, what is okay to say, and what information to provide to the other party.

  • Ongoing training.

 

Create a training program that reviews policies and procedures and tests the volunteer’s comprehension on a continual basis. Training should be held every quarter to make sure all volunteer drivers are following the same policy.

  • Formal investigation plan.

 

Investigate every incident that does occur. Gather facts and details about what happened from the volunteers involved and witnesses if possible. Use this information to improve your safe driving program and avoid repeat incidents in the future.

Non-Owned Auto Insurance

Each of the steps above helps minimize accidents and improve safe driving among volunteers. Accidents can still happen. Non-owned auto liability insurance is the best way to protect your nonprofit’s financial resources, mission, and credibility when they do occur. Non-owned auto insurance pays bodily injury and property damage claims that your organization is held liable for. It does not include coverage for the driver’s vehicle damage which would fall under their personal auto insurance.

Follow these steps to protect your volunteers and nonprofit from driving risks.

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