© 2000 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved Ministry Business Services, Inc. President Reprinted from Cti’s Your Church Magazine
Many churches have vehicle fleets. They facilitate ministry, neighborhood outreach, and are often overseen by a volunteer; so they’re reasonably inexpensive. But the hidden costs due to recent law changes and potential litigation suggest we might be wise stewards to rethink this facet of our ministry.
Does Your Fleet Over Expose Your Church?
Accidents happen. Fortunately, most are minor and without injury. But serious accidents do happen, and there are lots of attorneys who will look to the church for a deep pocket. Too many churches over the last decade or two have had to pay out large settlements because opposing attorneys had been able to successfully argue that the church was partially responsible. The reasons vary from poor driver training to maintenance to older vehicles that don’t come anywhere close to meeting current standards.
This is preventable. The problem was that the churches had put themselves in the first position of defense.
Recent legislation has increased the requirements of providing public transportation. To improve the quality of transportation you provide while also limiting your liability, please consider:
- Outsource your fleet. The cost of owning and properly maintaining vehicles and providing properly licensed and trained drivers is not too different from the cost of contracting with local transportation providers. In fact, the cost of providing a current fleet that meets current safety standards is probably more than the cost of contracting with local providers. Consider outsourcing your fleet. Although less convenient— yes, it requires pre-planning!— this is the best way to limit liability.
- If outsourcing your fleet is not possible, outsource the maintenance of your fleet. Ask your local school district who they use to maintain their vehicles. These vendors are required to keep your fleet maintained to standards that will also help limit liability.
Your church is there to build the Kingdom. As good stewards, we want to give our teams all of the tools they need while at the same time doing what we can to ensure the church will be able to continue its ministry. These are just two considerations that could help.