On January 1, 2013 Assembly Bill 2298 (AB 2298) became effective. All public safety agencies should be aware of this bill. A recent California Association of Joint Powers Authorities (CAJPA) Legislative Update provided the following analysis on the potential impact of this bill. “Do you have any peace officers or firefighters using their own vehicles on agency business? If so, be ready for the liabilities imposed by AB 2298. Effective January 1, 2013 an agency will be liable for any injuries caused by the negligent use of the personal vehicle. The peace officer or firefighter will have no liability. CAJPA members may want to revisit their current agency policies on the use of personal vehicles on agency business in response to the passage of AB 2298.”

Prior to the passage of this bill an employee’s personal insurance was considered the primary coverage if they experienced an accident while driving their personal vehicle for agency business. The employer’s insurance was considered excess to the employee’s policy. However under this law the employee’s personal policy no longer provides coverage and the employer provides “first dollar” coverage.

AB2298 reads in part:

“This bill would provide that, in the event of a loss or injury that occurs as the result of an accident during any time period when a private passenger motor vehicle is operated by an employee who is a peace officer, member of the Department of the California Highway Patrol, or firefighter and used by him or her at the request or direction of the employer in the performance of the employee’s duty, the vehicle’s owner shall have no liability, and the employer shall be considered the owner of the vehicle for the purpose of any liability and defense of the claim.”

In light of these changes Golden State Risk Management Authority has recommendations that may be helpful in preventing losses or claims relative to this new bill for your agency. Some of our recommendations are as follows:

Develop a policy regarding the use of personal vehicles for agency purposes.

Ensure all staff and/or volunteers have a Valid California Driver’s License.
Provide a Defensive Driving Training program.

You may already have policies and procedures in place that address these issues. If so, we would be interested in receiving a copy of your policy so we may share it with our other public agencies that may not have policies currently in place.

GSRMA has many resources available to assist you regarding AB2298 and a Defensive Driving program.

Online training through our MemberLink.
On-site Defensive Driving training.
Assistance with policy development and review.

If you have questions regarding this new legislation, need assistance with the development of a policy or program, or would like more information about the courses available on MemberLink, please feel free to contact us at lossprevention@gsrma.org or 530-934-5633 and we would be happy to assist.

If you would like to read this bill in its entirety please visit www.leginfo.ca.gov, click on the Bill Information button, select the 2011-2012 Session and search for AB 2298.