Clients in Your Car – Reduce Your Liability

by CherrellT on December 14, 2011

For many small business owners, the chances of one day having to play chauffeur to clients or prospects are pretty realistic. Entrepreneurs are often happy to oblige when it comes to tending to the needs of a client, and transportation is something so mundane and seemingly innocuous that no one ever stops to think about the huge can of liability that is opened the moment a client sits in the passenger seat of a business owner’s vehicle.

The predisposition of businessmen to look at things on the bright side is a valuable trait when it comes to achieving success in the marketplace, and thus giving a client a ride to the airport is seldom thought of as a risky endeavor. The reality of our litigious society should always make us consider the worst-case scenario when conducting business or engaging with clients, but we tend to err on the side of congeniality and courtesy. Just because a thousand things could go wrong when taking a client out for a scenic drive on the countryside, it doesn’t mean that a business owner or self-employed professional should refrain from allowing clients into their cars. The idea is to take the right precautions, not to seem ill-at-ease or downright rude.

For the business person who wishes to be thoughtful and accommodating to clients, here are some things to consider when offering a ride:

Vehicle Maintenance and Insurance Coverage

Some entrepreneurs decide to put their privately-owned vehicles at the service of a business entity, while others choose to list a separate company car as an asset. There are different cash flow and tax considerations for choosing one over the other, but the bottom line is that the vehicle used for business should be kept in perfect condition and adequately insured.

In terms of insurance, it is paramount that a company or business car be insured with a comprehensive policy that extends coverage to all passengers and cargo. If it’s a personal car being used for business, the coverage should be properly adjusted, and nothing less than maximum coverage will do. This will surely entail a higher premium, but not as much as some may think. Asking for twice the amount of coverage does not mean that a car owner has to pay double the premium.

In terms of safety, a vehicle owner could be at fault should something occur that a passenger can blame on inadequate maintenance. Bald tires, for example, could be easily demonstrated as causing a vehicle to slip and slide on the highway. A business vehicle becomes an extension of the company; it must be kept clean and orderly. A surefire way to lose a client would be to subject him or her to ride in a car littered with fast-food wrappings or smelly gym clothes.

Staying Alert

Clients tend to add several layers of distraction in a car. Talking about business requires a person’s full attention; just as driving also requires a driver to concentrate on the road. It’s better to keep conversation light and to let clients do the talking. The driver can accomplish this by focusing on small talk and asking questions. Engaging conversations such as those seen in HBO’s Taxicab Confessions should be left to seasoned New York City cabbies.

To avoid losing focus, the driver should refrain from looking at the clients. Playing music in the background can alleviate mundane long distance drives. The choice of music style should always be up to the client.

Safe and Courteous Driving

Clients will appreciate arriving to their destination safe and sound, just as much as they appreciate doing business. When clients become passengers, it’s not a good time to showcase drifting or stunt driving skills. All the tenets of safe driving must be observed: hands at the 10 and 2 o’clock position on the steering wheel, three car-lengths in front of the vehicle, attention to the rear and side-view mirrors, etc.

Author Stephen Anderson is an insurance consultant who strongly suggests that you search online for Auto Insurance Comparison sites to make certain you are getting the best possible rates these days. Car Insurance Quotes Illinois is one example of the state rates you can compare.

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