Accidents Involving Municipal Vehicles - Do Your Employees Know the Proper Actions to Take?

How does your municipality handle a vehicular accident when one of your employees is involved and operating a municipal vehicle? Being prepared and knowing what to do if this happens BEFORE it happens is key to promoting a successful outcome.

Do you have your employee contact their department supervisor? Police Department?  OMAG would certainly suggest a police report be filed, no matter how minor the accident. 

Do they know how to contact an ambulance service if needed?

Do they provide the information on your insurance verification card to the investigating officer?

Have they been advised to make no statement regarding fault at the scene?

Do they know how to assist the other party with the proper method to file a claim with the city?

If appropriate, do they take photos of the accident scene and all vehicles involved?

Are they advised not to make suggestions or recommendations on repair facilities? Making suggestions or recommendations on repair facilities can present uncomfortable situations if that repair facility does not meet the needs of the third party.

These things are very important to be sure that the investigation can be handled correctly. Regardless of whether the city employee feels they are at fault, a thorough investigation should take place to determine liability.  

If you have questions about how to handle a situation like this, or if you need help developing a plan, please contact Underwriting Director Chris Webb at cwebb@omag.org or Member Services Director Dorie Spitler at dspitler@omag.org.

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Why Backing into Parking Spaces is a Good Risk Management Practice

Why Backing into Parking Spaces is a Good Risk Management Practice

For some time, there has been a debate whether it is safer to back into a parking space in the workplace. I believe it is a good risk management practice. Let me tell you why.

Roughly one in seven vehicle incidents occurs in parking lots. Therefore, it is a good area to focus on to reduce accidents. How employees park when they arrive at work can affect their day-to-day safety behavior. Let’s look at how backing into a parking space might make a person more safety conscious.

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March 2018 Risk & Safety Newsletter

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Vehicle Backing Safety

One out of every four vehicle accidents can be blamed on poor backing skills, according to the National Safety Council. Approximately 500 people die and 15,000 are injured due to backing accidents each year. Using safe vehicle backing tips can help prevent you or your employees from experiencing the trauma and expense of a backing accident.

  • Think ahead. Drivers should not put themselves in an unnecessary backing situation.

  • Park defensively. Drivers choose an easy-exit parking space, like pull-through or where no one else is parked. Don’t crowd neighboring vehicles; be sure to park your vehicle in the middle of your space.

  • Know your vehicle’s blind spots. Drivers need to remember that mirrors never give the whole picture while backing. In a medium-sized truck, blind spots can extend up to 16 feet in front and 160 feet behind the vehicle.

  • Do a walk-around. Before entering your vehicle do a walk-around. This gives you a firsthand view of the backing area and any limitations. You can check for children, signs, poles, drop-offs, buildings, and other things you might hit if not attentive in your backing.

  • Know your clearances. While performing your walk-around also check for obstructions, low hanging eaves and tree limbs, wires, and any other potential clearance-related obstacles.

  • Alley parking is a special circumstance. If an alley doesn’t permit driving all the way through or room to turn around, you should back into it (if ordinances permit) so when leaving you can pull forward into the street rather than backing blindly out into the street.

  • Use a spotter. Have another person help when backing. The driver and spotter should use hand signals instead of verbal instructions. This may take some practice so that you understand each other’s signals. Do not allow the spotter to be positioned directly behind your vehicle or walk backwards behind you while giving instructions. They should be off to the driver’s side where you can see them in your side mirror.

  • Every backing situation is new and different. Sometimes a driver visits the same location several times a day. The driver should be watchful each visit for changes and new obstacles (new vehicles, trash cans, people, etc.)

  • Drivers sometimes must spot for themselves. They need to return to the vehicle and start backing within a few seconds after finishing their walk-around. This will allow very little time for people, cars, or other obstacles to change the backup conditions. Backing without a spotter should only take place after the driver has learned as much as possible about the area they are backing into.

Long-Term Solutions to Safe Backing:

  • Install rear-vision camera systems in vehicles to eliminate rear blind spots. Investing in a rear-vision camera system for vehicles can put drivers in full visual control of the rear of a vehicle.

  • No amount of forward-driving experience can help a driver with backing a truck or other vehicles. All drivers need practice, practice, practice in safe surroundings until they become familiar with the way the vehicle backs up compared to the direction the steering wheel is turned. Supervisors need to test and approve drivers’ skills before allowing them on the streets.

  • Create and support a company-wide training program. The program should include a driver’s course to teach and review backing techniques, as well as covering equipment usage, hand signals, dangers to avoid, and other risk-lowering topics. OMAG has partnered with OSU/OKC’s Precision Driving School to provide training to municipal drivers free of charge. Contact OMAG Risk Management Services to get more details on how to sign up.

With so many potential injuries, loss of property and vehicular liability claims isn’t it worth it to take some time to evaluate your vehicle backing skill?

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Hired & Non-Owned Auto Liability, Physical Damage and Other Auto Coverage Issues

Hired & Non-Owned Auto Liability, Physical Damage and Other Auto Coverage Issues

The responsibility to respond to our members' coverage questions and provide coverage interpretation primary falls on OMAG’s Underwriting and Member Services Departments with support provided by OMAG’s Legal and Risk Management Departments. Providing a clear and consistent response to these inquiries is always our goal.

OMAG provides Hired & Non-Owned Auto Liability to all Municipal Liability Protection Plan members that schedule their autos under our coverage. This coverage provides liability coverage on an excess basis for vehicles that are not owned by the city but are driven by an employee of the city in the scope of their duties on behalf of the city.  

An employee’s vehicle would fall in the category of a non-owned vehicle with the employee’s personal insurance being primary. This coverage does not include physical damage to the non-owned vehicle.

Read further for specific scenarios when coverage would and would not apply.

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Understanding Your Vehicle Auto Liability and Physical Damage Coverage

Understanding Your Vehicle Auto Liability and Physical Damage Coverage

As personnel in municipal offices change, replacing the knowledge and experience of the person that served your municipality can be difficult.  Understanding insurance coverage when so many other things seem to demand our attention may not be a priority. Please let the following serve to provide a basic description of the coverage OMAG provides.   

Auto Liability provides bodily injury and/or property damage coverage to a third party for an accident caused by a municipal employee involving a municipal vehicle.

Physical Damage Coverage is for damage to the municipality’s vehicles. There are three types of vehicle physical damage coverage available through OMAG: Collision, Comprehensive and Specified Perils.

Collision Coverage provides coverage for your vehicle if it collides or crashes into another vehicle or stationary object, such as a pole or fence.

Comprehensive Coverage and Specified Perils Coverage provide coverage for your vehicle for a “loss from any cause except collision,” but Comprehensive is a broader coverage than Specified Perils. OMAG suggests that you consider either Comprehensive Coverage or Specified Perils Coverage on each of your vehicles; you do not need both.

Comprehensive Coverage provides coverage for your vehicle for all risks covered by Specified Perils as well as glass breakage, damage done by an animal, and loss resulting from rain, snow, or sleet (whether or not wind driven), which Specified Perils does not cover.

Specified Perils Coverage provides coverage only for light and heavy trucks, ambulances, vans and SUV’s and is not available for private passenger vehicles, such as police units or private automobiles used by municipal officials. OMAG’s Specified Perils Coverage has no deductible: however, it only covers the following specific risks that may cause damage to your vehicles:  Fire or explosion, theft, windstorm, hail, earthquake, flood, mischief or vandalism, and the sinking, burning, collision or derailment of any conveyance transporting the covered vehicle.

To assure adequate protection in case of a loss, your autos need to be reviewed annually to insure they are listed on your schedules. These auto schedules are sent to you each year when we send your Municipal Liability Protection renewal flash drive.  

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