Passengers of Commercial Vehicles
January 18, 2017
Author: DJ Looft, Account Administrator
Many of today’s long haul truck drivers are dispatched on a Monday and are on the road for one to three weeks at a time. Drivers will often bring along family members as passengers since they are away from loved ones for an extended period of time. Problems may arise in these situations making it beneficial to understand the circumstances.
The following factors need to be considered when determining if passengers should be allowed to ride along with your drivers:
– What are the liabilities that may arise from carrying an unauthorized passenger?
– What are insurance companies’ concerned with?
– Best practices to properly cover this situation.
The US Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration address these issues under Subpart G, Prohibited Practices – 392.60 “Unauthorized Person Not to be Transported”. In summary, unless the motor carrier specifically gives the driver of the motor vehicle written approval to have a passenger, which includes the passenger’s name along with the time period and destination of the trip, they would be considered an unauthorized passenger. This does not apply if the passenger is an individual assigned to the vehicle, an employee of the motor carrier, or if the commercial vehicle is a bus.
Many companies and drivers do not realize their passengers are considered unauthorized, which is an exposure for the motor carrier as well as the driver. In the event of an accident the driver is liable for their act and liable for the passenger. Depending on the motor carrier’s coverage, any injuries sustained by the passenger, whether authorized or not, are generally not covered by the motor carrier’s liability policy leaving a potentially large uncovered exposure.
A large number of insurance companies have a specific question on their applications asking if the motor carrier’s company policy allows passengers. Insurance companies are aware of this potential exposure and look for confirmation on how a motor carrier deals with this. Unauthorized passengers pose risks motor carriers simply do not want because it leaves them open to uncovered exposure.
If a motor carrier is allowing their drivers to have passengers, it is important to have a formal company policy in place. This should include a requirement that a Passenger Accident policy be in place prior to a driver being allowed to have a passenger. These policies can generally be put in place for minimal cost each month per passenger and will cover passengers in the event of an accident. Eligible passengers are defined as, “a passenger who is traveling with an Authorized Commercial Driver of the policyholder who does not operate the vehicle.” All passengers must be enrolled in the policy to be eligible for coverage. These passenger policies come with stipulations such as: a maximum number of passengers per unit or a minimum age requirement that needs to be adhered to. These requirements can vary from policy to policy, so it is important to know what your expectations are when considering the different options available.
Additional practices for motor carriers when considering allowing drivers to have passengers include:
• Training and knowledge of the rules and regulations concerning allowing passengers in the commercial auto.
• A clear understanding of the additional liability that could arise from an unauthorized passenger in or on the driver’s commercial auto at any time.
• Unauthorized passengers should not be allowed in the cab at any time.
This is exposure all motor carriers have, not just long haul motor carriers. Understanding the rules and regulations as well as how this exposure can be covered is important, not only for the motor carrier but also for their drivers.
“Unauthorized Passengers” https://www.rsiinsurancebrokers.com/12_09Unauthorized-Passenger
“Electronic Code of Federal Regulations” – https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c029d3a10e7123fd4d16d394611aa325&mc=true&node=se49.5.392_160&rgn=div8
‘Passenger Accident Insurance’ – Zurich North American Insurance Company
‘Passenger Accident Brochure’ – Great American Insurance