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Wednesday, October 22, 2014                                                                             


This season, many nonprofits and charities are busy with fall programming, events and planning, with staff and volunteers moving about communities.

Nonprofit employees often use their own vehicles for work purposes. This can happen on a regular basis, like a staff member making a run for office supplies, or picking up snacks for a meeting.

Dedicated volunteers may be on the go too, driving event supplies to various sites, bringing participants to a program, and more.

However, did you know that in most cases personal auto policy may not cover a loss if the vehicle is being used for business purposes? Yep, that’s right, no coverage unless the automobile is properly rated as being “used for occasional business use” on the personal auto policy, and the additional premium (cost) for the coverage is paid for.

Your nonprofit business insurance won’t necessarily cover an accident either. When employees and volunteers use their own automobile for work, it’s considered a "non-owned" vehicle of your organization. If the event of a collision, your organization’s commercial liability policy may not cover it.  

A risky situation for nonprofits and charities.

Added to this risk, employers face the potential for further liability. Employers have what is called "respondeat superior, or vicarious liability” for the negligence of their employees, or volunteers acting under their instruction. When an employee or volunteer causes an accident that injures and/or causes property damage, the employer can be held liable.

So, how to be proactive and protect your staff, volunteers and organization? 

If you require employees or volunteers to use their vehicles for your nonprofit’s activities, here are some considerations regarding their use:

1. Implement a written policy for non-owned autos, including:

  • If and how employees and volunteers will be compensated for using their vehicles 
  • The minimum liability insurance you require that employees and volunteers carry, and if, or how, you would like them to provide documentation. For example, you might make an annual request that they show proof of insurance that covers business or volunteer use. 
  • For what purpose employees and volunteers will be using vehicles

2. Nonprofits and charities should make sure they have coverage for “non-owned” automobiles included in their insurance coverages. Check the details of your commercial insurance policy. Insurance coverage can be complex and considered a “once a year” item, but it’s vital that all aspects of your organizational activities are fully considered. 

Risk management article

Risk on the Road: Managing Volunteer Driver Exposures- Nonprofit Risk Management Centres (U.S.)

ONN’s Insurance Resource

As part of ONN’s insurance program, offered exclusively for nonprofits and charities, standard coverage for “non-owned” automobiles is included in all Commercial Liability Policies. Our insurance partner, Hub International HKMB, can provide more details and walk you through the details.  Find out more and get connected on our insurance page or contact Paul Spark, HUB International, paul.spark@hubinternational.com, 416-597-0555 x247. 


Ontario Nonprofit Network
720 Bathurst St., Ste. 405
Centre for Social Innovation, Toronto, ON M5S 2R4
(416) 642-5786

Ontario Nonprofit Network | 2 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 300 | Toronto, ON M4T 2T5 | (416) 642-5786 | info@theonn.ca
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