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Risk Management Minute

Valuable Information to Help You Protect Your Ministry

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We all have routines. Every morning I get in the car, hit the garage door button and back out. My friend recently drove my car and immediately joked about not being able to back up since she has a rear view camera and I don’t.  Looking at her screen was so innate to her routine that she had forgotten to actually use her mirrors! Recently the Insurance world has been hit with a surge of auto claims so I thought it would be good to remind you of some vehicle safety tips.

1. Vehicle Inspection
Use our vehicle inspection sheets to document the state of your church vehicles before driving. How do you do this? Create a routine. Keep a clipboard in the bus, van, etc. You can access a vehicle inspection form in our risk management library. To read more about vehicle inspection importance check out this blog. Vehicle Inspection

2. Driver safety
Did you know there is a proper way to load a 15 passenger van? Did you know there is a different way you should take an exit ramp if you are in a vehicle with a higher center of gravity? It is important to educate your regular drivers with driver training videos.  You can access these videos in our video library, where you drivers can submit their name with proof of training. Also, check out this blog on driver training. Driver Training

3. Approved Drivers
If you have anyone who is driving the church vehicles on a regular basis make sure to send them to us. The insurance carriers will run a motor vehicle report on the driver to check their record. If they are approved we will add them to the policy as a regular driver.

4. Who Should Drive      
Should you have teenagers drive others to a church activity? The answer is no! A teenager driving to a church activity of their own accord is one thing. Asking a teenager to drive on behalf of the church is another. If you have a teenager drive other teens to an outing you are essentially putting the church’s liability in the hands of a sixteen year old. You are responsible for the safety of the minors when they are under you care, ie a youth activity.  

5. Parking 
When parking a church vehicle, we recommend choosing a spot that you can pull forward instead of needing to back out. The majority of church auto claims are do to hitting something when backing out, mainly in the church parking lot! 

While you can't control what happens with the other drivers around you, you can make sure to do your part to protect the safety of those in your care. 

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When it comes to vehicle inspections most of us are doing good to keep the gas tank filled and the oil changed only a few hundred miles after the yellow light comes on. Most Churches find that with their never ending to do lists that automobiles typically are on the bottom. If it starts, there isn't a problem! Personally I'm guilty of rarely washing my car. I depend on the rain to keep it clean! However, as a Ministry there are several important reasons why vehicles inspections should become part of your regular routine. 

Safety is obviously a main concern. You want to make sure the vehicle is in good working order before loading it up with passengers. Another concern is liability. Imagine your church van was involved in a serious accident which includes severe injuries and a fatality. Due to the nature of the accident several lawsuits are filed against the church. Lawyers are going to go over every detail with a fine tooth comb to try and prove that your ministry was negligent in a multitude of areas aside from the accident. Did you do driver training? Was a vehicle inspection done prior to driving? If your answer is no, you are negligent. 

So how do you incorporate vehicle inspections into your Ministry? Simple. You create a routine. They say something needs to be done consistently for twenty-one days before it becomes a habit, and I am all about self improvement! In our Risk Management Document Library we have a Vehicle Self Inspection Form. We recommend you download and print up several copies to keep on a clipboard or in a notebook in each of your church vehicles. Before any of your driver's take a vehicle out, they need to do a quick inspection, just like they do when you rent a car. Only this time you're not on the defense pointing out that dent was there before you left the lot in your economy priced clown car. 

Why is this important? As we've said in the past, it's all about documentation. If a lawyer is claiming negligence you now have a history of documentation showing that you inspect the vehicle on a regular basis. You've done what the law considers a reasonable person would do. If you haven't yet completed driver training, please check out this blog post. Driver Training  

A few minutes of effort could make all the difference to your ministry. 



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When it comes to driving an automobile it's important to remember that not all cars are created equal. The way you maneuver on an exit ramp varies depending on whether you're in a Civic, F150, 15 Passenger Van or a Bus. Just because you know how to drive one vehicle safely doesn't mean you're automatically proficient in all, despite having that little thing called a driver's license. 

This is why driver training is vital for your ministry. Whether you run a bus route or occasionally use the church van for youth group outings, educating the people who drive your vehicles is a must and documenting that education is just as important. 

As part of our Ministry Risk Management System, we make driver training simple and easy. Log onto our website and select the the Ministry Risk Management Tab. In the drop down menu you will see Church Video Library. Select the Auto Safety Video section.

Underneath each video you will see a form asking you to enter the names of the people who are watching the video along with your church information. This is where the documentation part comes in. If your church van was in an accident involving severe injuries or fatalities, the first thing a lawyer is going to ask is, "Did you do any sort of driver training? If so, can you prove it? What documented evidence do you have?" If you've watched our videos, and submitted the names of the drivers who did the training you can answer yes. If your answer is no, you now have a valid reason to sit in front of the computer and watch videos! 

So gather up your drivers, document their training and in the mean time enjoy the bus driver training video below! 




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