Hit the Brakes: Acceptable vs. Unacceptable Commercial Drivers & Why it Matters
By Brian Pilarski, Commercial Insurance Advisor
“Is this driver acceptable? If not, why?” “They told me they only had one ticket a couple of years ago!!!”
A weekly scenario for us and our clients. With distracted driving now the number one cause of accidents, it’s especially important to ensure you’re hiring safe drivers.
Commercial auto differs from personal insurance criteria. A driver is either “in” or they are “out” for eligibility under a commercial policy. No point system or scale of pricing exists with commercial auto insurance. What is acceptable or unacceptable?
Exceptions are made and these are not universal, but most insurance companies employ the following criteria:
-Drivers with three or more moving violations in the past three years
-Drivers with one at-fault accident and one violation in the past 3 years (when not the same incident)
-Drivers with a suspended or expired license
-Drivers with any serious violation in the past five years. Serious violations include, but are not limited to:
- OUIL/OWIL/DWI/DUI – driving while impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Careless/reckless driving
- Excessive speeding (20+ MPH over)
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Driving while license suspended or revoked
- Using a motor vehicle for the commission of a felony
- Other violations considered serious by state law
- Drug crime
What’s the Big Deal? Negligent Entrustment of an Auto
Hiring employees with good driving records goes beyond being able to easily insure them. An organization can be found guilty of negligent entrustment for allowing someone with an unsafe driving record to operate a company or personal vehicle while on company business. This could have serious legal and financial ramifications for the company, so it’s extremely important to have a formal driver safety program implemented.
Negligent entrustment of an auto is a cause of action in tort law where one party is held liable for negligence because they “negligently” provided another party with a dangerous instrumentality. The doctrine of law is as follows:
Plaintiff (injured party) who invokes that doctrine must present evidence which creates a factual issue whether the owner knew, or had reasonable cause to know, that he was entrusting his car to an unfit driver likely to cause injury to others. Furthermore, in order to impose liability upon the owner, the plaintiff must prove that the negligent entrustment of the motor vehicle to the tortfeasor was a proximate cause of the accident
To help our clients avoid legal issues surrounding drivers, we help facilitate driver hiring programs along with ongoing policies to impose current drivers adhere to the proper driving standards. Highlights of our program could include:
- Checking driving records of all potential new hires
- Annually check the driving records of any employee who may drive for the company in any capacity (company OR personal vehicle)
- Implement safe driving training/education
- Maintain consistent discipline standards when driving violations occur, in a company driving policy
We can help companies control this emerging risk. Contact a Brown & Brown of Detroit advisor at 586.977.6300 to learn more about protecting your business.