Your youth minister has planned a trip to a nearby attraction for all the church’s children. Donations need to be transported to a facility. Meals need to be distributed to elderly parish members who can’t leave their homes. You don’t have enough — or any — church vehicles for these projects. What do you do?
You have two choices: Volunteers may use their own vehicles, or you may rent vehicles. Hired or non-owned automobile coverage differs depending on which option you select.
When a volunteer uses a personal vehicle for church business
If a volunteer uses his or her vehicle for church business, the volunteer’s own auto insurance is primary. Insurance follows the vehicle. The church’s non-owned vehicle coverage acts as excess.
If an accident were to occur while a volunteer is driving his/her own vehicle on an errand for the church, he/she would report the accident to his/her own insurance company, and the church would report the accident to its insurance company. The volunteer’s insurance company would cover the accident according to his/her policy, and the church’s insurance company would cover the excess, as long as the church has non-owned auto insurance.
Non-owned auto insurance is meant to be a back-up to the primary policy providing both excess liability limits for the vicarious liability of the church and to help fund a physical damage loss where there is inadequate coverage on the primary policy or a large deductible.
When a church rents a vehicle
It is a good idea to purchase the coverage the rental agency offers. That’s because, once again, the church’s hired and non-owned automobile insurance pays only for excess, almost like an umbrella insurance policy.
And any volunteer who rents a car on the church’s behalf opens him/herself up to risk. Very few churches have a credit card that they can use to rent a car, and if there’s a loss, you don’t want it to appear on the volunteer’s record.
Purchasing the rental agency’s insurance also protects renters from paying for “loss of use” if an accident occurs. “Loss of use” means that you would be responsible to pay for the days during which the vehicle couldn’t be rented because it’s in the shop being repaired.
Using personal or rented vehicles on church business is common, but it’s important to keep the risks in mind and protect volunteers as much as possible. Hired and non-owned automobile insurance provides extra protection.
*This article is for educational and informational purposes only. Always check with your carrier regarding the specifications surrounding your coverage.