Date: August 2018
The use of motorcycles for business purposes creates an increased risk in liability for the employer. Although organizations’ safe driving policies are well intentioned, employers should consider the risks associated with motorcycle use:
- Other motorists do not always see motorcycles; consequently motorcyclists have an accident fatality rate 35 times higher than automobile drivers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Motorcycles have more difficulty than cars in negotiating highway road hazards such as pot holes, rough pavement, asphalt crack seals and adverse weather conditions.
- Striking animals while driving a motorcycle often results in more serious consequences than when driving a car.
- Minnesota law does not require adult motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
Coverage and Exclusions
The MCIT Coverage Document follows the Minnesota no-fault statute and excludes personal injury protection (PIP) for motorcycles. The law does not apply to motorcycles. However, motorcycle coverage policies do offer medical payment coverage for the insured to purchase if desired.
An employee-owned motorcycle involved in a work-related accident must rely on his or her personal insurance policy to cover the physical damage to the motorcycle.
As a fundamental rule in liability coverage when using a personal vehicle, the primary responsibility falls first upon the coverage in effect on the vehicle. Motorcycles are no exception. Although, motorcycle owners generally choose lower liability limits because motorcycles typically cause less physical damage compared to automobiles, owners should consider the full scope of exposures motorcycles present when deciding on liability limits.
If the employee injures someone or damages property of others with his or her motorcycle in the course or scope of his or her duties, the employer may be named in a third-party claim. In this event, MCIT coverage would be excess to the employee’s personal motorcycle coverage in line with MCIT’s nonowned auto coverage for liability. MCIT’s limit of coverage is aligned with the tort cap limits of $500,000/$1.5 million.
The employer is responsible for workers’ compensation coverage if an employee uses his or her motorcycle during the course and scope of employment unless specifically prohibited by the employer’s policy. This includes injury or death if the motorcycle were used to attend a meeting.
In the case of death, dependency benefits are payable under the Workers’ Compensation Act as follows: dependency benefits are payable to dependent survivors of employees who die from injuries arising out of and in the course of employment (children are dependents until age 18 or age 25 if attending a high school or college); burial expenses up to $15,000; surviving spouse may receive benefits for 10 years after a dependent child is no longer dependent as defined by Minnesota statute.
Minnesota follows the majority rule in treating injuries sustained while traveling to and from work as not compensable under the “coming and going rule.” There are several exceptions to the rule. Generally, however, coming and going to work is not a compensable event, but driving during the work day for work-related required meetings may be compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Driving Safety Policies
Driving safety policies help establish parameters that protect the employer and employee if a work-related accident occurs. These policies help ensure anyone driving for official business has the knowledge, skill and ability to protect him- or herself, the organization and the public from unsafe driving.
If driving is an essential function of the job, recruitment announcements for these positions should include (at a minimum) a statement informing applicants that the employment offer is contingent upon a valid Minnesota driver’s license and acceptable driving history. Further, if motorcycle use is prohibited for conducting official business, job applications, job descriptions and interview questions should clearly state this. Supervisors must make it clear to employees that travel is required and the use of motorcycles is prohibited.
Members should contact MCIT toll-free at 1.866.547.6516 for more information about personal use of motorcycles related to conducting official business.