When an employee drives their personal vehicle for company business, the company has risk exposure and liability whether or not they provide the vehicle. In many ways, risk management is more challenging since the fleet does not own the vehicle.
Employers must exercise their duty of care by ensuring that all workers are safe while at work, including during work-related travel. With hybrid and remote work environments becoming more the norm, employees driving their personal vehicles for work has become more and more common, which means that the corporate exposure from operating a grey fleet is becoming increasingly problematic.
What is a Grey Fleet?
A grey fleet is the title given to personal vehicles that are used for business purposes. Often this means employee-owned vehicles which are being regularly used for business travel. This includes those vehicles used through novated leases, when the company reimburses the employee for work-related vehicle expenses, or when the employee uses their car and claims work-related costs against their taxable income.
Reduced Safety Control of Grey Fleet Vehicles
Grey Fleet management has more of a challenge implementing safety programs compared to other types of fleets. Grey fleet drivers will be unlikely to accept the installation of any device — a telematics device, a video camera, or a black box — in their personal vehicle.
On the other hand, an app-based driver behavior solution mandated on a corporate-issued smartphone or tablet can and will overcome this objection to installing a hardware device in the personal vehicle. If the company doesn’t provide corporate smartphones or tablets to its employees, the company can use incentives for the driver to install the app on their personal phone, and achieve the same ability to provide a picture of driving risk and a baseline for correction.
Fleet Approaches to Grey Fleet Safety
If grey fleet driver monitoring cannot be achieved through video solutions, telematic solutions, or by use of an app, this means the fleet may be forced to rely on less interactive approaches to improve driver safety to mitigate the risk of accidents. These approaches could include more reliance on MVR monitoring, adhering to hiring and onboarding standards, providing ongoing driver training, driver license status monitoring, insurance monitoring, and clear acceptance of a published driving policy with a focus on dangerous behaviors such as cell phone use while driving.
Traditionally, fleet safety technologies have relied on hardware-based solutions that attach to the commercial vehicle. While it is reasonable to install a hardware device into a vehicle owned and operated by the company, the cost and burden of installation and maintenance of these devices can be significant.
Summarizing Grey Fleet Risk Management
While allowing employees to use their personal vehicles for business travel can be an attractive option due to the lower costs and changing travel requirements, grey fleet drivers and employers must take extra measures to ensure that proper attention is given to driver safety standards.
Drivers must have the right fleet insurance policy for their vehicle and use. Most people will claim commuting on their insurance policy but they will not claim business purposes because it may result in increased premium costs. Coverage for potential liability must be in place as well as a responsible approach to driver safety. This unique combination of conditions requires extra attention compared to the fleet that provides vehicles to drivers.