Insurance & Risk Management

Auto Insurance FAQ's

If I use my own personal vehicle for either business travel or going from one WHOI building to another and gets into an accident am I insured by WHOI?
When an employee uses their personal car for WHOI business, the primary coverage is generally provided by the individual's personal auto insurance.  The employee should check with his/her personal insurance provider to determine what coverage, if any, would apply. Should the employee's liability coverage turn out to be inadequate, WHOI has coverage that will step in.

What should I do if I am driving one of the WHOI-owned vehicles and get in an accident?
Please report the accident immediately to The Risk Management Coordinator.  You will be required to fill out an Accident Report Form. See the Driver Safety and Motor Vehicle Use Procedure for more information on the requirements for using WHOI vehicles.

What kind of insurance do we have for rental vehicles?
Always choose to rent any vehicle using your Corporate Visa card. Using the Visa card activates the Visa Auto Rental Insurance (ARI) at no additional cost. If you are renting a truck or van (depending on the type of van), you should accept the optional insurance provided by the rental agency. If you are renting a passenger car, do not accept the optional insurance.The Visa ARI (Auto Rental Insurance) provides primary coverage world wide (with exceptions!) Please check with the Visa Benefits Administrator (1-800-VISA-911) before you travel.  In order to active the ARI coverage you must use your Visa Corporate card to initiate and complete the entire rental transaction. You must also decline the car rental company’s collision damage waiver (CDW/LDW) option. See the VISA webpage for details.

Note: If you are renting a car in a foreign country, it is very important you check with the Visa Benefits Administrator (1-800-Visa-911) before you travel to make sure Visa ARI CDW will apply.

Is a pickup truck covered?
Trucks or vans may not be covered by the LDW (Loss Damage Waiver) on the Visa card.  Only small to full size cars are definitely covered.  If you are renting a truck or van, check with the Visa Benefits Administrator before accepting the car rental company's collistion damage waiver (CDW/LDW) option.

If an accident does occur while in a rental car who do I contact?
If the rental was charged to your Visa Corporate card, immediately (within 48 hours), but no later than 45 days following the date of damage or theft, you -the cardholder- are responsible for reporting your claim to the Visa Travel Assistance Accident Claims & Questions at 1-800-VISA-911 or your claim will be denied.  Notice to any other party will not suffice.  (The Rental Agency is not responsible for filing your claim under this program unless you are traveling outside the U.S. and sign a Cardholder Assignment Form, which should be provided by the Rental Agency).  In the event of an accident and your Visa Corporate card was not used you would notify the auto rental outfit and contact the Risk Management Coordinator (x3517).  You should also note that most police reports need to be filed within 48 hours of an accident involved with another vehicle or causing other property damage in excess of $500.

Are drivers under the age of 25 covered?
Under both National’s and Budget’s corporate agreement, minimum age is 21 with a valid driver’s license. They are subject to fees at some locations if under 25.

Can I rent/pick up a car for another individual, putting it in my name and then use a copy of their driver’s license and I sign the agreement without the original signature from that driver?
No. This could be considered fraud. If the driver is not on the agreement and has not signed that agreement and gets into an accident or pulled over for speeding the police could consider it a stolen car. No insurance company would cover us. Both National and Budget require an original drivers license and an original signature of the driver. (All other rental agencies should require the same).

Would the employee’s personal driving record be affected if they have an accident while driving a rental car for business?
Yes. An employee’s personal driving record will be affected if he/she causes an accident even if they are driving on business, be it in a rental car or a company owned car. They don’t have to be cited in order to be penalized. Example: A WHOI employee, while renting a vehicle on business rear-ends the car in front of them. This is a case of clear-cut liability (i.e. there is no question that the WHOI employee is at fault). That employee will be surcharged on his/her personal insurance for causing the accident.  Another example might be a WHOI employee cited for speeding in a rented vehicle while on business. This too, will result in a surcharge on the employee’s private auto coverage.

Who reports the accident to the state, is it WHOI, the insurance company or the rental car company?
In most U.S. states, you are required to complete and file a police report within 48 hours of an accident involved with another vehicle or causing other property damage in excess of $500.  When you report this loss to the police, your driver information is provided to the state and surcharges may result.  Also, when an accident is reported to the Institution's insurance company and the WHOI driver is at fault, this information may be filed with the state in which surcharges may result against you as the 'at fault' driver.  In due time, a surcharge will appear on an individual's personal insurance bill. A similar system would apply if an individual were cited for speeding or some other traffic violation. The Police Department would submit info into the merit rating system and the individual would be surcharged.

Will WHOI’s Insurance respond if the Visa insurance refuses payment?
Yes, there are two policies that would potentially respond, one providing domestic coverage and the other foreign coverage. These policies, like all insurance  policies, are subject to various exclusions and limitations, but in general terms they would respond and help to fill in where the Visa coverage leaves off.  NOTE: WHOI's Auto Policy has no liability deductible as it is written on guaranteed cost. For physical damage to rental vehicles, though, there is a $500 deductible for both Comprehensive damage and Collision damage in the US and Canada. Outside the US and Canada the deductible is $1,000 for physical damage but coverage for the rental vehicle itself is $25,000 maximum so if you are renting a vehicle that exceeds this value you need to purchase the physical damage coverage from the rental agency.

Will WHOI’s insurance cover damage to rental cars worldwide?
Yes, the US and Canada policy will provide liability and physical damage coverage in the US and Canada. The policy that WHOI purchases for outside the US and Canada provides liability coverage and physical damage coverage in addition to the local required coverage which is why you must purchase local coverage from the rental agency. Outside the US and Canada, the physical damage coverage is limited to $25,000.

Does WHOI’s insurance cover damage to other vehicles that are involved in an accident with a rental?
Yes, if WHOI is at fault, both the domestic and worldwide policies coverage applies to damage to other vehicles that are involved in an accident. This is called Property Damage Liability coverage (as opposed to physical damage).

Which policy would apply in a case of an injury involving a rented vehicle?
Both policies also provide coverage for Bodily Injury Liability  (i.e. injury to someone in the other vehicle on some other third party).

Will I get the corporate rate when renting a car for personal travel and will insurance coverage be in effect?
You will get the corporate rate for renting a vehicle as long as you identity yourself as a WHOI employee.  As for the insurance coverage, the WHOI auto policy will not provide coverage for employees renting vehicles for personal travel.  The employee should check with his/her personal insurance provider to determine what coverage, if any, would apply.

What do I do when a car rental agency demands to be shown certificate of liability coverage?
WHOI’s insurance partner can provide a Certificate of Insurance which will provide you with evidence and some detail of WHOI’s auto insurance. These are widely accepted by all businesses. Please contact Reimbursement and Travel Services or the Risk Management Coordinator (x3517) if the situation arises.

What if a Travel Authorization was not submitted prior to my trip and I get in an accident, am I covered?
While not required by the insurer, the Travel Authorization ensures some type of documentation that you were traveling on WHOI business. It is recommended that you always fill out a Travel Authorization prior to traveling. If an employee were in an accident while traveling on WHOI business he/she would be covered by various insurance policies, which are: 

  • Business Travel Accident Insurance- This coverage pays a lump sum payment if the employee dies or loses some body part and/or sight as a result of  the accident. 
  • Workers Compensation Insurance- This coverage would cover medical expenses and lost wages if the employee cannot return to work right away as a result of an accident. 
  • Auto Liability- This coverage would provide liability coverage if someone else was hurt as a result of an accident and the WHOI employee determined to be at fault. 

Last updated: November 7, 2014