Businesses often require running vehicles as a part of their normal operations. However, it’s more than just having a car or truck on the road. When you entrust a vehicle to an employee, you are literally putting the company’s assets on the line. If you run a taxi or transport company, it will be your core service offering. For other organizations, using vehicles may be a necessity for sales visits, supplier and vendor meetings, and running day to day errands.
Whatever the purpose of using a vehicle may be, the company faces liability if an accident occurs in the course of business. In fact, you may also be held liable if the accident occurs with an employee’s personal vehicle while he or she is on duty. Considering these facts, it becomes important to have a risk mitigation and management plan for handling such situations effectively. Let us highlight the basic components of a business vehicle risk management strategy.
Have a proper policy to avoid accidents
Even before you have a procedure for dealing with accidents, it is important to avoid them in the first place. The first thing to do would be to have an accident avoidance policy in place. For ensuring that your fleet is compliant, you need to prioritize certain key variables. These include:
Vehicles: Whether you issue a company car to the employee or allow them to use personally owned vehicles for business purposes, it has to be fit for purpose. Regular inspection and maintenance are equally important. Further, you need to ensure that they are equipped with the requisite safety provisions.
Drivers: Any employee you permit to drive for company purposes, no matter how infrequently they do it, should be fully trained to handle that particular class of vehicles. Additionally, they must be in good health and hold a valid driving license. You also need to make sure that they are aware of the business vehicle safety policies and standards of the company.
Operations: The trips involving the company and personal vehicles should be planned and routed in advance to ensure safety and minimize risk. These schedules must be realistic, having reasonable working hours and allocating ample rest breaks for the drivers. While you plan trips, also bear in mind unpredictable factors such as adverse weather and breakdowns.
Management: There should be a set of documented rules and regulations for managing the vehicles used on company business. Essentially, these documents should define the routines, responsibilities, tasks, and processes for monitoring and managing the vehicles and employees who use them.
Establish post-accident procedures
While you may have the best policies and practices for accident prevention, mishaps can still happen. Whether you have a single car or a whole fleet of vehicles on the road, you must define and establish a post-accident procedure for the employees to follow. If someone gets injured in the crash, they will definitely have experienced car accident attorneys to fight for compensation. So it becomes valuable to look for legal counsel for self-defense. In fact, they can even help you establish the procedure for dealing with accidents so that you don’t ruin your case. Ensure that the employee:
- Remains on the scene and co-operates with the authorities
- Calls the police if they or someone else is injured
- Gather information about the mishap from the other driver, victim, and witnesses
- Reports the mishap to a designated authority within the organization
Get insurance coverage
Apart from setting up a procedure for handling accidents with the company vehicle, it is vital to have insurance coverage. Since your company would be liable to compensate the victim (and injured employees), you cannot afford to overlook insurance or you may end up with a liability costing thousands of dollars. With adequate insurance, you will have peace of mind, no matter how small or major the crash is and what compensation amount you may have to pay. When you get insurance, go through its terms and conditions carefully to ensure that you are adequately covered in case of an unfortunate incident. If an accident happens in the course of business, you will have to report it to your insurance company as quickly as possible.
Needless to say, the risks of operating business vehicles are high but they aren’t something you can completely avoid. You will have to send employees out in them once or more as a part of the normal operations. A proactive approach towards managing these risks effectively can help you prevent mishaps and deal with them effectively if they still happen.