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Auto Insurance: Non-Church Owned Vehicle Questions

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

If your church has commercial auto insurance, you may think that you, your employees, and your volunteers may be covered in an accident. But, if anybody drives their personal vehicle while performing church-related activities, you could be putting yourself and your church at risk due to vicarious liability.

What is vicarious liability?

Vicarious liability is defined as the liability of a supervisor (e.g., an employer) for the conduct of a subordinate (e.g., an employee) that is based solely on the relationship between the parties. In other words, your church could be held financially responsible for the actions for another person.

Consider this:

It’s Sunday afternoon, you’re leaving church and decide to deposit Sunday’s offerings at the bank. Since it’s on the way home, you figure you’ll just drive your own car and you’ll be home before you know it. But on the way there, you get into a fender bender and suddenly your easy Sunday afternoon has become much more stressful.

If you’re at fault, you may be thinking that your personal auto insurance will cover it. But, because you were performing church-related duties, there’s a good chance the accident won’t be covered by your personal auto insurance, or they’ll turn to your church to be reimbursed.

Not only that, but the other party (or their insurance company) also can sue both you and your church for damages because of vicarious liability.

Hired/Non-owned Auto Insurance Coverage:

To help prevent this kind of difficult and stressful situation, it’s important to secure hired/non-owned auto insurance coverage. This coverage can be part of the commercial package (CPP), the commercial auto (CA), or a stand-alone policy and helps protect your church from vicarious liability in the event of an accident.

To help you better understand the importance of hired/non-owned auto coverage we’ve prepared a free infographic that outlines things you should consider when driving personal vehicles for church-related activities.

When you are covered by UMIP, we will be there when you need us. Churches have unique needs. As a part of the denomination, we understand the unique needs of United Methodist churches and their operations, which is reflected in our coverage options. Your ministry deserves outstanding insurance and UMIP works for you each day to help protect your church’s people, property, and finances.

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This content has been prepared by United Methodist Insurance Company (UMI) for informational purposes only. No article or document may accurately contemplate all possible scenarios or church resources. As such, this information is meant to foster discussion by the individual church and its members to develop a plan tailored to its own circumstances. UMI is providing this information with no warranties or guarantees of any kind and it should not be viewed as legal, financial, or other professional advice. All liability is expressly disclaimed. Any claim examples described herein are general in nature, may or may not be based on actual claims, and are for informational purposes only. Any coverage available for a claim is determined from the facts and circumstances of the claim as well as the terms and conditions of any applicable policy, including any exclusions or deductibles. In the event of a conflict with the content herein, the terms and conditions of any issued policy will control. Individual coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.

The commercial insurance coverages for United Methodist Insurance are sold and serviced directly or indirectly by Sovereign Insurance Agency (CA Lic. No. 0B01380) ("Sovereign") and underwritten by various available insurance markets. Sovereign pays United Methodist Insurance a royalty for the use of its intellectual property.


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