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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our current policy is that there is no personal use of company vehicles whatsoever. We do allow the employee to take the vehicle home at night directly after the last job so they don't have to drive back into the office but again our policy is no personal use whatsoever, and it must stay parked at their home at night until the next work day.

The problem we are discovering is that even though we have this policy in place, our employees seem to ignore this policy and just go whereever they please. I have fired folks over it to prove the point we take this seriously but others continue to do it.

So, are we being too strict with our policy or should we stick to our guns?

Seems like there is a butt load of liability if we allow personal use.

What do you guys do?
 

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We offer 24 hour emergency service, so they need to keep a vehicle with them at night and on weekends. Our policy is to allow for basic use of the vehicle, no nonemployee passengers. We have a 3 page driving policy that is very specific about what they can and can not do.

I am not looking very closely, I have hired responsible employees that are expected to make good decisions on and off the clock.
 

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On the one hand, I'd say good luck with that. Too much temptation and entitlement, esp. when it's cheaper to use your fuel instead, or conveniently go do something else when they were "on the way home". In the late 90's I managed a couple home medical equipment branch offices. We had the techs take the vans home, which I kind of had to do to keep the overtime down, and it was safer to have them parked where they lived. The flip side is they would stretch the delivery routes and clocking out was hard to pin down.

Maybe with an investment in GPS technology you could log trips and time of travel, which would reduce it somewhat. There's got to be a way to red flag a moving vehicle after hours, too.
 

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In the event of an accident with your company vehicle, it is your insurance that will pay, so if the employee's teenage son "borrows" your truck while parked in your employee's driveway, and has a collision; then that claim will be on your insurance record and affect your premiums in future years.

Pearce Services has an excellent point with respect to his 3-page driving policy. In my line of work as an insurance broker, this type of risk management document is something that can help me get reduced rates for my client when marketing their account to an insurance company.

As opposed to having no non-employee passengers, you may wish to allow a "spouse or significant other" to be a passenger or even a driver. They can be added as a driver even if they are not an employee; you just need to provide their info to the insurer (driver's license number, claims and traffic convictions history) and if they have an acceptable record it probably won't cost any extra.

As already mentioned, your Driver Policy should exclude any drivers under 21 (in Canada under 25 is the norm). This can be amended if a younger family member is declared, their info checked out, and an additional premium paid. The additional premium can be the responsibility of the employee. This is a personal choice on the part of the business-owner; just keep in mind that if that teenage boy has a claim, it will be on the business' insurance record.

If you make it your company procedure to log mileage before the workday starts and at the end of the day, this is a subtle way of telling employees that you are watching how many miles they are putting on your vehicle when they have taken it home. A few miles here and there is okay, but if they are taking 400 mile weekend vacations, then you will be able to figure this out pretty quick via the mileage log, and they will know this. After all, it is not just insurance costs , but added wear, tear, maintenance, and the gas/oil costs.

We also suggest our clients add a deductible reimbursement clause. If a claim happens while the company vehicle is used for employee's personal use, then the employee has to pay any deductibles or uninsured expenses. As with any contract, you need to have these types of conditions in writing, and signed off on, in order to be able to enforce them if needed.

Last, in Ontario (and many other provinces/states), annual vehicle registrations can not be renewed if there are outstanding parking fines on that vehicle. Same with the deductible reimbursement clause, your Driver Policy can make the employee responsible for any parking tickets. It is a matter of keeping a record of when vehicles were signed out to an employee. Then if the parking ticket time matches the time the vehicle had the vehicle, they are responsible for paying the outstanding parking fine that you didn't know about all year until you go to renew the vehicle license.
 

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Astrix- How would personal injury be handled if "off the clock" or a non - employee passenger? Not sure about everywhere, but I know in Texas you can purchase a 10k MAXIMUM PIP. Doesn't this open up the business owner to liability in the case injuries in an accident?
 

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The Ultimate Wire Hider
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I am about to issue a vehicle to an employee and my policy will state that there is no personal use without explicit written permission from me.

Granted I know that he will stop to get coffee, pick up some groceries on the way home, etc. so I trust him to use good judgement. I will require him to keep the truck washed (on his own time and expense), to get the oil changed regularly, and to make me aware of any other maintenance/repair issues.

The policy will be stated strictly but I won't tell him that it's enforced loosely so that way he knows in the back of his mind that any non-business related trip puts his job on the line if something happens. I figure that if the guy bends the rules a little bit, he will be extra careful and use more discretion when deciding where to go and how far.

If he jumps in the truck to go get a burger after hours, that's not a big concern of mine. But if I tell him that it's OK to do that, he very well might take that 400-mile trip out of town.
 

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I will require him to keep the truck washed (on his own time and expense)
That's a little obnoxious. It's not his truck and he is prohibited from using it for personal business. So since it got dirty on company time and for company business you need to pay for the wash and his time to have it done.
 

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hbiss said:
That's a little obnoxious. It's not his truck and he is prohibited from using it for personal business. So since it got dirty on company time and for company business you need to pay for the wash and his time to have it done.
I've had company trucks before and I always cleaned them on my own time. It would usually be when I spent an entire day straightening up the tools and organizing. So should you be paid to organize your truck too?? To me it seems like a common courtesy to keep a vehicle clean on your own. A company vehicle is a perk and keeping it clean on your own time is a good way to show you appreciate it. It is a 2 way street.
 

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Everyone parks my trucks qt the shop daily, except my dad, brother and myself.
 

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I only have 2, and one is mine and I do what I want with it, the other one is my leads, and he has a way nicer truck, sometimes he drives his own to work, so I don't have to worry about him joy riding it.
 

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Astrix- How would personal injury be handled if "off the clock" or a non - employee passenger? Not sure about everywhere, but I know in Texas you can purchase a 10k MAXIMUM PIP. Doesn't this open up the business owner to liability in the case injuries in an accident?
This is a tough question to answer without writing a whole book on the subject. Auto insurance is enacted as a separate law by each American state or Canadian province. While standardized and similar in many ways, the most complicated and varied part of auto insurance law is how injuries are handled and paid. First off, it will be one of the following three systems:

- Tort (you can sue);
- No-fault (can't sue); or
- Limited no-fault (can sue only if you cross the "threshold" definition of serious, permanent injury).

A/B (PIP) coverage is paid out regardless of which system is used and it doesn't matter who was at fault for the accident. Usually, the driver and passengers get their A/B expenses paid by the insurer of the vehicle in which they were an occupant. (However, there are variations to this general rule which I won't get into here.)

A/B limits are set by law and are not very high. They're okay for minor injuries, but won't be enough in the event of a serious accident. For example, you mentioned a $10,000 PIP limit in Texas. That won't go very far. If fault can be attributed to another vehicle/driver, then the injured person may have the option to sue, which is when a $1 or $2 million Auto Liability limit comes in handy.

While the business owner is not negligent for allowing his employee to drive during off-hours; the point is that liability is attributed to the "vehicle via its driver" and not to the driver personally. So if the employee is driving the company truck and ends up causing an accident that injures other people, then it is the owner of that vehicle (via his auto insurance policy) that will have to pay. The liability and associated costs do not get transferred to the employee's personal car insurance policy. Same goes if the spouse or other family members are borrowing the company truck. (Again, there are variations to this principle which I won't get into at this time.) If the accident is serious enough and you don't have enough commercial auto liability insurance, then your business is responsible for paying any shortfall.

A passenger in a vehicle may sue the driver of the same vehicle both were riding in, if that driver was at fault for the accident. That is why you often see the rule about not having any non-employee passengers in the company vehicle.

Some of the "no-fault" and "limited no-fault" jurisdictions have options where the A/B (PIP) standard coverages/limits can be voluntarily increased by paying extra premium. A few states let you opt out of no-fault, so that you have the choice of being either on a no-fault plan or a tort plan.

Some states/provinces allow "subrogation". So, even if your vehicle's insurer initially pays for a passenger's A/B (PIP), they then may be able to recoup that money from another insurer whose vehicle was at-fault for the accident. For American CT members, here is a link to a table which outlines the basic rules re PIP and subrogation on a state-by-state basis: Med Pay / PIP Subrogation in all 50 States

There's way more, but I suppose that's enough for now. It's hard to try and explain in generalities all the different scenarios when company vehicles are used for personal use: minor or serious injuries; at-fault or not-at-fault accident; which of the 3 systems applies; who is injured: driver, passenger, other person. If there is a specific scenario that someone has in mind, perhaps they can lay it out, and I will try and answer how that situation would be settled and what the risk exposure is.

P.S. - a few acronyms so we are all on the same page:

  • - MedPay = Medical Payments, ie doctor's bills, prescription costs, bills for other therapy such as chiropractor, occupational therapy, etc. (usually under the tort system)
  • - PIP = Personal Injury Protection; incl MedPay PLUS funeral expenses, lost time off work, housekeeping, babysitting/daycare costs, etc. (usually under a no-fault system)
  • - A/B = Accident Benefits - the term used in Canada and is the same as PIP.
 

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So since it got dirty on company time and for company business you need to pay for the wash and his time
That's customarily the trade-off for having the privilege of taking the vehicle home. Conversely, if the employee takes issue with washing the truck at his own expense, I'd gladly pay for it but he would have to turn the truck in every night and park it at the office. So I figure that the money he saves in gas going to and from home covers the time and expense.

A company vehicle is a perk and keeping it clean on your own time is a good way to show you appreciate it. It is a 2 way street.
Exactly. Sometimes he may even get the opportunity to do a wash and wax on company time if we are having a slow day.
 

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Wife works for a Commercial GC and one of their subs had to fill bankruptcy due to an employee taking the company truck to a strip bar getting drunk and then causing a 3 car accident. They were a good sized HVAC company in Montana. Key word "WERE"

? how much do you like your business? :blink:
 

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When employees are on site, or in my vehicles, or using my tools, they are on the clock. If they're not on the clock, they have no business being there or using my vehicles or tools.
 

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The Ultimate Wire Hider
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one of their subs had to fill bankruptcy due to an employee taking the company truck to a strip bar getting drunk and then causing a 3 car accident.
That's another factor that concerns me. Whenever I see a bunch of service vehicles parked outside of the bar, I'd like to think that they are over there fixing a problem but more than likely they are in there getting drunk.

That's where I would draw the line. Even if they are not on the clock, if they are driving the company truck, they are representing the company.. although I wonder how many calls I might get from the other patrons who see the truck in the parking lot. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Astrix- How would personal injury be handled if "off the clock" or a non - employee passenger? Not sure about everywhere, but I know in Texas you can purchase a 10k MAXIMUM PIP. Doesn't this open up the business owner to liability in the case injuries in an accident?

So the main reason I bring this up is we have installed GPS in our trucks and have discovered that some of our guys are using the trucks for personal errands all the time.

We fired a few but it continues to happen. Hell we even have the no personal use and you are being tracked by GPS notice in the trucks but they still ignore it. Hell, we just this week fired one guy because we discovered he was at a strip club the night before.

Even a new guy we just hired, we went over with him 3 times and made him sign the large print vehicle policy but we discovered he was making personal errands after work.

I can't fire everyone so I'm considering completely eliminating employees and making every one subs who have to provide their own insurance & leasing the vehicles to them. Or the other option I have is keeping them on as employees and providing the vehicle as a benefit with them as the insurance holder. I like option one because it removes much of my liability but then I have to deal with making sure we are following the contractor rules. The last option we have is making every one park at our shop which means we'll have to lease additional space to get the parking spots.

Tough situation but hopefully with the insight I gain here, speaking with our lawyer and insurance agent, and generally being very risk adverse, I'll figure it out.
 

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So the main reason I bring this up is we have installed GPS in our trucks and have discovered that some of our guys are using the trucks for personal errands all the time.

We fired a few but it continues to happen. Hell we even have the no personal use and you are being tracked by GPS notice in the trucks but they still ignore it. Hell, we just this week fired one guy because we discovered he was at a strip club the night before.

Even a new guy we just hired, we went over with him 3 times and made him sign the large print vehicle policy but we discovered he was making personal errands after work.

I can't fire everyone so I'm considering completely eliminating employees and making every one subs who have to provide their own insurance & leasing the vehicles to them. Or the other option I have is keeping them on as employees and providing the vehicle as a benefit with them as the insurance holder. I like option one because it removes much of my liability but then I have to deal with making sure we are following the contractor rules. The last option we have is making every one park at our shop which means we'll have to lease additional space to get the parking spots.

Tough situation but hopefully with the insight I gain here, speaking with our lawyer and insurance agent, and generally being very risk adverse, I'll figure it out.
Something else is going on here if you've got that many different employees not respecting your rules and authority....:whistling:

I think vehicle use after hours is the least of your worries!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Bad Hiring and Employee Management. I'm not a people manager and a lot of this is legacy from years ago when I just hired anyone that would get the job done.

If you look through my history, my questions pertain to a lot of management issues and employee issues. The real realized issue was me(see above) so I hired a few foremen who have managed construction type folks for years and that has greatly improved employee management and our bottom line.

We have been slowly eliminating all of my bad hires from years past over the last few months and keeping the folks that are great. But my good folks have even asked about personal use of company vehicles since they already take them home and I am just curious if I am being too strict about this. Our lawyer and insurance rep says to keep it completely business to reduce risk but it seems to reduce employee morale.
 

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I get to take home a company van. I've never had a company vehicle so I feel it is a privilege and I treat it as such. Its cleaned out once a week, vacuumed if its dirty and washed regularly in the summer especially if I wash my personal truck since its just as easy to wash the van. I keep track of the oil changes, tire pressure, and other maintenance. It's a nice new vehicle and my boss wants it to stay nice. I take care of it the way I would if it were my own.

At times if I need to run an errand on the way home I just call the boss and let him know. If for some reason I need to use it on the weekend because my truck is being worked on or is in the shop I've just called him and asked.

Most of the time guys that have a company vehicle treat them like **** because the vehicle isn't theirs, don't make the payments, don't pay the fuel bill, and don't pay for the repairs. I know the cost of having multiple vehicles on the road and one day I may be the one paying those bills. Until then, it's not my van, I appreciate having a company vehicle so I take care of it.

I feel if you need to GPS your vans/trucks, you have the wrong people working for you.
 

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I am about to issue a vehicle to an employee and my policy will state that there is no personal use without explicit written permission from me.

Granted I know that he will stop to get coffee, pick up some groceries on the way home, etc. so I trust him to use good judgement. I will require him to keep the truck washed (on his own time and expense), to get the oil changed regularly, and to make me aware of any other maintenance/repair issues.

The policy will be stated strictly but I won't tell him that it's enforced loosely so that way he knows in the back of his mind that any non-business related trip puts his job on the line if something happens. I figure that if the guy bends the rules a little bit, he will be extra careful and use more discretion when deciding where to go and how far.

If he jumps in the truck to go get a burger after hours, that's not a big concern of mine. But if I tell him that it's OK to do that, he very well might take that 400-mile trip out of town.
Do as you wish, but don't kid yourself. I used to think that way about their judgement. We had great guys, too. That van is going to be driven all over the place. The medical equipment office I mentioned was in PG (Temple Hills), so I know the terrain pretty well. You're probably covering a fairly big area like we did, and there's lots of reasons for drivers to eventually "justify" all the personal driving. They don't start out that way, but they slide into it.

BTW, how concerned are you about the extra mileage, maintenance, and maybe a fender-bender off hours? Maintaining his job is going to be the least of your worries, so just be sure to cost it all in ahead of time. Heck, we even found one of our "best" guys delivering furniture for pocket change after hours. Easy to do in the craigslist era.
 
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