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Employees or state volunteers who drive rental vehicles on state business must look first to the mandated liability insurance coverage provided by the rental car company (if the vehicle is rented in NYS), then to their personal auto liability policy (unless business use is excluded) and finally to the State's self-insurance for coverage.

This means that most likely a private auto insurance company will be providing legal representation for the employee or volunteer who is sued for damages arising out of a rental car accident.

The State of New York, through the Office of General Services, has a state contract with Enterprise Rental Company for car rentals. SUNY makes use of this state contract, although employees may have to use other rental companies if the business is out-of-state or in a location not served by Enterprise. The State contract with Enterprise requires that the company provide the State-mandated liability coverage of $25,000 per person/$50,000per occurrence to authorized renters.

SUNY has recently clarified with the Office of the State Comptroller that approval will not be given for campus or System reimbursement of the cost to the renter of supplemental liability coverage offered by rental car companies. According to OSC, reliance on the employee's own personal auto liability insurance followed by the State's self-insurance as excess is sufficient and removes the justification for the additional state cost. Since any accident caused by the driver will result in increased personal auto insurance rates, the purchase of supplemental liability insurance coverage in an attempt to avoid such rate increases would be ineffective.

Employees and volunteers, including student-volunteers, should be informed about the liability insurance implications of driving a rental vehicle on SUNY business and be given the choice about the purchase of supplemental liability coverage on a non-reimbursable basis.

Certain additional best practices are recommended when renting a vehicle on state business:

  1. Per the terms of the state contract with Enterprise (and actually for all rental companies), all rentals are to be made in the name of New York State or the name of SUNY to ensure liability coverage. Since state employees on official business are representing New York State, the state employee's name should be included as an agent of New York State or as an authorized user. The names of all drivers should be included on the rental form with Enterprise. State law places a limit of three authorized (3) drivers per rented vehicle. Based upon University experience with renting cars under this and previous contracts, all three (3) drivers should be listed on the rental form as "authorized drivers.”
  2. In addition, if a state employee is not going to be driving the car on official state business, he or she should not be pick up the car; only one of the three drivers should pick up and return the car. Otherwise, this employee is one of the three authorized drivers of the car---and he/she will be part of any lawsuit in the event there is an accident involving property damage and/or personal injury.

 
A. Damage to Rental Vehicle Only

  • Where the Citibank Travel Card is used, if there is an accident involving damage to the rental car or the car is stolen, the employee should immediately notify Citibank for its carrier to cover the loss. See generally http://www.ogs.state.ny.us/purchase/snt/wordfiles/7900802837NYS_TravelCardBenefits.doc.
    • Notify supervisor
    • Notify Designated Campus Office
  • If the CDW was purchased with Enterprise, immediately:
    • Notify Enterprise
    • Notify supervisor
    • Notify Designated Campus Office
  • If none of the above additional coverage was purchased, immediately
    • Notify employee's own car insurance
    • Notify supervisor
    • Notify Designated Campus Office.

B. Personal Injury:

  • Notify immediately:
    • Enterprise or other rental car company
    • Notify the credit card carrier in case PI insurance is carried
    • Notify own car insurance (even if employee believes business use is excluded)
    • Notify supervisor
    • Notify Designated Campus Office (which will notify counsel's office)

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Office of Travel Services
SUNY Canton
French Hall 113
34 Cornell Drive
Canton, NY 13617

Travel Coordinator
Tina Flanagan
flanagant@canton.edu
(315) 386-7555
Fax: (315) 386-7925