One thing that is commonly asked for new users signing up for GPS fleet management is: will this save money on my insurance? And the answer is, 'it depends'.
Like most things, if the system is not monitored and the information it provides is not acted upon then GPS won't be nearly as effective as it has the potential to be.
The first thing our customer success team reviews with new clients is their vehicle use policy. Most don't have anything concrete and it usually consists of some unwritten rules that are told to drivers.
Insurance companies like to see things written down, something that can be clearly communicated with drivers, managers and staff. We tend to agree and provide a boilerplate template for a vehicle use policy and customize it to our client's own policies they want to enforce.
It's not uncommon for employers to allow some amount of personal use of company vehicles, and is often times viewed as a perk of the job. Allowing workers to take the vehicle home so they can report directly to the job site (if it's closer to their home than main office) makes a lot of sense.
However, the prescribed use of company vehicles should be clearly laid out in the vehicle use policy. Can you take it to pick up groceries after work? Head to the casino? Long weekend road trip to another state?
Best practice tips
We like to see absolutes when talking about personal use of a company vehicle, some language you may want to include would have:
- Require approval or notification of use
- Document the driver activity (either paperwork or with GPS)
- Specify the time period
- Specify acceptable uses of vehicle
- Make sure your insurance covers it
The final item is pretty important, you don't want to find out after an accident that your policy doesn't cover you if your commercial vehicle is totaled while being driven for personal use.
Most business owners we talk to are worried about workers smoking in the vehicle. Not only does this stink up the car, it can project a less-than-professional image to onlookers.
What often surprises people is that, depending on your state, it can be illegal to smoke in a commercial vehicle. Why? A company vehicle can be considered part of the workplace and must therefore comply with the any existing regulations regarding indoor air quality. Here is some text from New York:
New York Clean Air Indoor Act
Smoking is prohibited throughout the workplace, in copy machine and common equipment areas, and in company vehicles.
...employers run a liability risk if employees are exposed to secondhand smoke at their workplace. Employees, particularly those with chronic respiratory illnesses such as asthma, can sue for protection against tobacco smoke under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This can vary by state and you should check with your local government on the rules regarding smoking in the workplace.
This is one of the most talked about issues when reviewing vehicle use policies with fleet admins. And it always seems to end up being a double edged sword:
Paradox - Our drivers are absolutely forbidden to use the phone while driving; o
ur drivers are given company phones to communicate with the back office
One of the better policies we have seen includes language that requires drivers to lock their cell phone inside the glove box before they start driving. This is one sure-fire way to ensure the phone cannot be used until the vehicle is stopped and turned off.
While this may sound extreme, these more exceptional measures can help combat the rise of distracted driving incidents.
Why your vehicle policy matters
The most important part of having a vehicle use policy is not only to clearly set the rules and expectations for drivers, but to provide mechanisms to enforce the rules. Having this feedback loop allows for active driver safety training instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over.
While there is no generic 'GPS/camera Discount' available to fleet owners, having these tools and showing polices and procedures to use them to improve driver safety has a big impact on your insurance. This documentation gives your agent more power in shopping your policy around and usually results in lower rates. Of course, lower rates are also associated with fewer accidents and claims, something that having a vehicle use policy and GPS help to accomplish.
We put this category last because if the top two items are accomplished, saving money is a given.
There is a ton we could cover, but the three topics above are the main drivers for change. Here are some examples of standard operating procedures that you might want to cover:
- Contact info for dispatch/roadside assistance
- What to do in case of an accident
- Daily vehicle inspection
- Items to check, reports, etc.
- Vehicle repairs
- Safe driving
- Where/how to fuel your vehicle
- Fuel cards, accepted locations, payments, receipts, etc.
- How to get roadside help
- Rendering assistance
Get a copy of our sample Vehicle Use Policy here (PDF).
Disclaimer: This is a sample policy and should not be considered legal advice. Please consult with your lawyer.