Coverage For Employees Operating Vehicles Within the Course of Employment
Vehicles are very important for the conduct of business. From making deliveries to taking employees on sales calls, employers often make vehicles available to employees to use in the course of their employment. Corporate insureds can obtain fleet insurance for motor vehicles from their automobile insurance company. That insurance generally covers injury, damage, or theft of owned or leased vehicles. It also provides coverage to the corporate insured if its employees are involved in an accident while driving a fleet vehicle on company business. A fleet insurance policy will cover a number of vehicles in one policy that are owned or leased by one corporate insured.
The risk of an employee having an accident in a vehicle while working must be set forth in an automobile insurance policy. Most insurance policies will expressly exclude employees in an employee exclusion clause or fellow employee exclusion clause. Often, an issue that must be determined is whether the person making a claim against an insured is an employee as provided in the policy exclusion. Several factors are taken into consideration in making the determination, including the insured’s control over the person; the insured’s ability to fire the person; and the regularity of the work. The courts consider the expression “in the business of the insured” as meaning the insured’s regular occupation, and not casual employment.
Another issue is whether an accident occurred in the course of employment. If an employee was injured in an automobile accident while running personal errands outside of business hours in a company car, the employee exclusion may not preclude recovery under the automobile insurance policy. Where a school board employee had to be transported to and from work, injuries suffered while so commuting were excluded from coverage under the school board’s insurance policy, which contained an employee exclusion clause.