As a nonprofit animal shelter or rescue, you often times rely on volunteers to utilize their personal vehicles for transporting animals or running errands.  What many organizations do not realize is that they can still be named in a lawsuit if that volunteer is involved in a vehicle incident while doing volunteer work for the animal shelter or rescue. Since this is the case, it is important for the shelter or rescue to have proper procedures and protocols in place for volunteers using their personal vehicles.

What is The Volunteer’s Driving Record?

To understand and paint a picture of the type of driver your volunteer is, it is best get a motor vehicle record (mvr) on the driver. MVR’s will show you if they have had any past wrecks or speeding tickets and will help you identify high risk drivers.

Policy & Procedures

Proper policies and procedures will identify the do’s and don’ts of driving for the animal shelter or rescue as well include a place for the volunteer to sign that they agree to these policies and procedures.

Do’s of Driving for the Animal Shelter

1.    Always wear a seatbelt.
2.    Always follow traffic laws.
3.    Obey all traffic signs and lights.

Don’ts of Driving for the Animal Shelter

1.    Never drive recklessly.
2.    Never use a cell phone while operating the vehicle.
3.    Never transport individuals not associated with the shelter at the same time.

Is There Insurance for That?

It is true that organizations can still be named in a lawsuit if the volunteer is an accident while running shelter errands. Why? If the volunteers is transporting an animal and hits another vehicle, causing injury to the other parties, they can come back and find the organization to be at fault for those injuries. The good news is that you can add non-owned and hired auto liability insurance to your policies.  This coverage provides protection in excess of the volunteer’s personal coverage and helps protect the finances and assets of the organization.

Non-Profit animal shelters and rescues are at risk for lawsuits.  It is critical for your organization to be properly protected and insured in the event a lawsuit occurs.  One way to do that is to audit your insurance policies what do they really cover?  Yesterday we reviewed 2 types of coverage your shelter or rescue should have in place. Below you will find another list of important coverages:

Workers Compensation:  Most companies (nonprofit organizations included) are required to carry workers compensation insurance to protect their employees.  This insurance pays for medical bills, disability pay, and for third-party liability in case someone has been affected by the employee’s loss. Volunteers can usually be covered by simply extending your policy.

Business Auto Liability: Does your animal shelter use vehicles to transport rescue animals? If you do then your organization is at risk and should consider business auto liability insurance. Liability for non-owned vehicles is important if your employees or volunteers use their cars to do work for your organization. If you have a small business, a personal auto policy may be best for you because it offers additional coverage to existing personal insurance to cover limited business needs. Personal vehicles can be covered by hired and non-owned coverage if the volunteers and staff use their own vehicle for business work.

Directors and Officers: (D&O) insurance covers the accidental actions of board members that can result in liability. These disputes are usually between the executive director and the board of directors, so it is important that small business is covered by D&O insurance as well. Allegations of improper financial oversight, harassment, or discrimination are also covered by D&O as long as the organization actions are legal.

Umbrella liability:  insurance expands the liability limits of your general liability, workers compensation, commercial auto policy, and directors and officers. The additional coverage is usually purchased in $1 million layers, and this additional coverage is often a great value. By adding just a small amount to your premium you can double or coverage, or more.