This article is based upon a recent webinar presented by Daniel Law, of The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers. Over the past 14 years, Dan has focused on the design and implementation of insurance and risk management programs for clients on a global basis.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) providers face very unique challenges with the clients they serve and the practice they run. These issues are often related to operations, clinical data collection and practice management. However, while ABA providers understand a variety of techniques that effect their clients, sometimes the hurdles that come with managing a business and its employees are difficult to navigate and they need to rely on experts.
One of these challenges is risk management. Far too often it is only understood as a reactive measure when ABA providers and their employees face issues that affect a business financially or in practice. However, there are strong benefits to including the right risk management approach in proactive initiatives, like establishing policies for employees who drive.
According to risk expert Daniel Law, of The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers, ABA providers across the country rarely think about the risks associated with employees who drive during company hours. In many cases, ABA providers have a very young workforce and employees may commute to and from work sites via a car or public transportation. For those who drive and work in a wide variety of environments, there are different levels of exposure. This can include everything from weather to traffic and by helping clients get from one destination to another.
“The general rule,” says Law, “is if you provide a mileage reimbursement, you have an employee driving on company and your business is at risk if the employee is involved in an accident.” But every case is unique. In fact, employees who have a specific location or work site that they travel to and from on a consistent basis may use a car for the commute, which wouldn’t be classified as company time.
In order to understand the risks, experts like Law say ABA providers should critically analyze guidelines for when an employee is considered to be driving on company time.
When are Employees Driving on Company Time?
- Driving in between sessions or client homes during work hours
- Going from a school-based session to a client’s home in the evening
These are just two examples of when an employee may be driving on company time and each practice will determine their own policies that correspond with how their business operates. In order to implement the risk management approach for employees who drive, each company should first know the fundamentals of the three-step process.
What is the Risk Management Approach?
The risk management approach is a three-step process that centers on identifying, analyzing and responding to risks. Each environment poses different hazards, so ABA providers must first identify, in their specific operations, where they have risks and analyze how they might impact the business and then formulate a response.
Identifying Areas of Risks
Some risks can be mitigated with appropriate policies, while others cannot. The risk management approach suggests that those areas of risks that can be avoided should be avoided, like when employees allow clients or children to enter their car. Exposure in a situation such as this can be tough to manage. So if ABA providers don’t know the maintenance of a car or are not providing a company car, Daniel recommends businesses prohibit employees to drive clients in their own vehicles.
Like all other business, providers should always analyze risks prior to events. This is a great way to mitigate risk for a business and establish a precedent that is flexible to implement when employees enter or leave the company. For example, ABA providers can look at Human Resource policies to determine if they already have a structure in place to require employees to have higher personal auto insurance limits. If it is a requirement for employees to drive on company time, ABA providers can also require employees to provide regular information on the condition of their vehicles and allow for random or scheduled inspections.
Responding to Risks or Accidents
Some accidents or events are unforeseen and can’t be avoided or overlooked once they occur. So if an employee does drive on company time and is involved in an accident, one of the first things that will be looked at is who is at fault. The term “at fault” is generally used to define a point in time when injury or damage occurs to someone or something else, better known as third-party exposure. It is rarely cut and dry. A simply allegation of fault can force a business to step in and defend the company, even though the allegations may not have a basis in reality.
The key to handling these situations is staying calm and controlling the situation by formulating an appropriate response at the right time. Injury to occupants and employees are often an integral part of the response process. So understanding the limitations of auto insurance policies and following the rules and procedures associated with the Workers’ Compensation process is essential. Obtaining a great business auto insurance plan can be a big help.
Each month, Rethink Behavioral Health hosts a webinar with ABA specific business experts that offer support and guidance for providers. So be sure to check out the next webinar and arm your practice with the right information to succeed!
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