Imagine that a client just left your business and you notice that they forgot their tablet on your desk. Knowing that your client is likely to check her phone before she gets too far away, you quickly send a text informing her of the forgotten device.
Later you hear that she indeed looked at your text – and then rear-ended the vehicle in front of her. Luckily, no one was hurt, but she’s suing your business for the cost of the damage done to both vehicles since you are the one who sent the text and distracted her.
Sound like something that would immediately be dropped in court? Think again. According to an article on propertycasualty360.com, a New Jersey Appeals Court recently decided that sending a text to a driver who will probably check the message while driving can make the texter liable for a resulting car accident.
According to the article, the court said that knowingly sending such a text counts as taking a “foreseeable risk” and constitutes as engaging in “distracting conduct.” Therefore, the texter should be held accountable for their actions.
Does Your Commercial Auto Insurance or Hired & Non-Owned Auto Insurance Protect You From Texting Liability?
By now you’re probably wondering whether your Commercial Auto Insurance or Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance protects you from texting liability. The short answer, as always, is: it depends.
Currently, there are no clauses in Commercial Auto Insurance or Hired & Non-Owned Auto policies that explicitly exclude coverage for texting. Policy language usually states that, in the event you’re held liable for an accident, your insurer will pay for:
- Property damage.
- Bodily injury.
Since it’s likely that lawyers all over the country will start pointing to this texting case when representing plaintiffs who got into an accident while on the road, you may very well be able to check off the “found liable for the accident” precondition of your policy. At the very least, your policy will be able to help you pay for your legal defense – even if you weren’t in the car at the time of the accident.
However, propertycasualty360.com does note that some states have outlawed the use of phones/text messaging while driving, and this could possibly constitute a reason for an insurer to deny an insured coverage.
The bottom line is this: You just never know. It’s better to carry a Commercial Auto Insurance or Hired & Non-Owned Auto policy and be safe than not carry coverage and be sorry.
What Else Can Your Commercial Auto Insurance and Hired & Non-Owned Auto Insurance Cover?
This might be time for a refresher on the common auto incidents that most Commercial Auto and Hired & Non-Owned Auto Insurance policies cover.
Most business Auto Insurance policies cover the costs associated with:
- Traffic crashes. This includes the damage done to your vehicle and the other party’s car.
- Other collisions. This may include accidents that happen when you collide with a deer that bolts across the road or when you hit a pothole that pops your tire and sends you careening into a guardrail.
- Medical expenses. If either you or the other party sustains injuries in an accident, your Car Insurance policy will likely cover related medical expenses.
- Legal expenses. If someone tries to sue you over an accident, your Car Insurance will help you pay for the cost of legal defense and any settlements or judgments you may encounter.
Your Auto Insurance policies can cover these costs up to the stated limits on your policy. To learn more about Commercial Auto Insurance, check out “Does Your Restaurant Need Auto Insurance?” on our blog. For more small business risk management information, read “4 Small Business Time Management Tips for 2014.”