April 2010, Automotive Fleet - Feature
Should Companies Charge Employees Deductibles for Preventable Accidents?
Several questions must be asked and answered prior to adopting a corporate policy of charging deductibles for preventable accidents.
It's the bane of many fleet managers' jobs - the preventable accident. Of course, serious accidents are more than a nuisance. With police reports to file, insurance forms to manage, and repairs to oversee, those minor fender benders and dinged doors can cause significant headaches and paperwork. To instill a sense of responsibility in employees who have the keys to company vehicles, many employers may consider charging workers a deductible after a preventable accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines a preventable accident as "one which occurs because the driver fails to act in a reasonably expected manner to prevent it." Preventable accidents can occur when drivers are texting, speeding, intoxicated, tired, or simply not paying attention.
However, before instituting a policy about charging deductibles, there are many factors to consider. Do state and local laws prohibit charging a deductible? Does it matter whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt? Does it make a difference if a company self-insures? How will such a policy affect employee recruiting and morale? What happens if employees are allowed access to vehicles for personal use and a family member causes an accident?
Before adopting a corporate policy of charging deductibles for preventable accidents, a fleet manager must understand all the issues to legally protect the company.