drive the city vehicle home?” is a question often asked by employees who
operate vehicles on behalf of the city. Whether it’s a benefit to the employee
or a job necessity, cities and towns grapple with decisions surrounding
employee take home vehicles. Balancing these request can create several
challenges. In addition to allowing employees to drive the vehicles, careful
consideration must be given to other issues that can create liabilities for the
city if they are not addressed ahead of time.
employee may ask if it’s acceptable to transport a family member while in route
to and from work in the city vehicle. Cities should evaluate their insurance
policies when making these decisions. If an employee is injured and unable to
work while operating a city vehicle, or if the city’s vehicle is damaged, the
employee could possibly receive compensation under workers’ compensation
through the cities workers’ compensation carrier or the at fault party’s
insurer. Damages to the city vehicle may be covered by the city’s insurance
carrier or the at fault party’s insurer. What happens to the non-employee
passengers claims is dependent upon the cities insurance policy.
It’s important for all parties to know the medical coverage limits the city’s
insurance carrier has for nonemployee passengers so neither party is caught
off guard in the event of a claim. Elected officials will often drive their
spouses to events in city vehicles. If the spouse is injured as a result of an
accident, then a limited medical payment benefit may be available. Med Pay is
no-fault coverage and will only pay items like deductibles and out of pocket
expenses after all other insurance coverage has been paid.
occupants of a city vehicle are hit by another vehicle that is uninsured,
SCMIRF provides minimum Uninsured Motorist Coverage ($25,000 bodily injury per
person/$50,000 bodily injury per accident/$25,000 property damage) for any
non-employee passengers. A $25,000 limit of bodily injury per person may not go
very far if there are major injuries and the non-employee passenger would have
to rely on their health insurance.
addition to understanding the city’s insurance coverage, officials must
establish rules so employees understand the vehicle maintenance requirements
and their responsibility to obey traffic regulations while operating the
vehicle. Will employees be allowed to stop by the grocery store on the way home?
Can they buy alcohol in a city vehicle? How should city vehicles be secured at
an employee’s home? How many miles can city vehicles be driven outside of city
limits? All of these questions should be answered before cities allow employees
to take vehicles home.
wages is another area that cities need to discuss ahead of time. If an officer
is on the way home from work and stops at the bank, but then is called back to
assist with an emergency or call for service, the officer could become eligible
for pay. Include the city’s labor attorney in this discussion to avoid any Fair
Labor Standards Act violations.
departments will assign take-home vehicles based on departmental needs such as
emergency response, community visibility, and other needs. Risk
members have access to a vehicle use policy to
assist officials with decision making to ensure vehicles are used towards the
mission of the department. For copies of the police vehicle take home policy
contact Todd Williams, public safety loss control consultant, at 803.354.4764