Office of Risk Management

Risk Management Policy and Procedure Manual

Part 7C Vehicle Programs

Subject: Driver Authorization and Vehicle Use

  1. Purpose:

    The purpose of this section of the manual is to provide the institution risk manager and related personnel with the driving requirements that must be met in order for officers, employees, students or agents to be authorized to use a State/University owned, leased, rented or personally owned vehicle while on university business. These specifications will give each institution the ability to evaluate and screen drivers with the goal of assuring State automobile liability protection and reducing uncertainty and loss from vehicle claims. This policy applies to anyone driving on university business.

    Note: The State of Wisconsin has established Fleet Driver and Management Policies and Procedures Manual. These policies were consulted in the revision of the University of Wisconsin System policy. In some cases the UW System policy is more restrictive than the State's policy. The State's complete policy is available on the web .

  2. Background:

    As described in the State Self-Funded Liability Program (SSLP) section of this manual (Section 3, A), University officers, employees, students and volunteer/agents are provided liability protection while acting within the scope of their employment or agency through the SSLP. This includes those actions which arise out of the use of a vehicle while on university business. To control the liability exposure that vehicle use generates, University System administrators and/or institution risk managers must monitor the use of vehicles while on university business carefully. This exposure can most effectively be controlled through the use of a systematic driver approval and authorization program at each institution. It is critical that those making the determination on who is authorized to drive remember that driving a vehicle on university business is not a right but a privilege, and the exposure is extreme.

    Vehicle use entails a wide variety of related issues which affect the liability, property, and workers' compensation experience of the University. Therefore, the exposures created by vehicle use must be controlled. The issues that will be addressed in this section which affect the exposures generated by vehicle use are: driver authorization procedures; liability protection for employees, students, and agents; drivers with out-of-state driver's licenses; driving in other states; foreign drivers; the use of vehicles in foreign countries; the use of privately owned vehicles for University business; and non-employee passengers in vehicles while on university business.

    These guidelines do not apply to the Commercial Driver's License Program. This issue is addressed in Section 7A of the manual.

  3. Driver Authorization:

    Driver Authorization is required for students, LTEs, agents and employees whose job requires them to drive on university business. This includes using:

    • a State or university vehicle,
    • any rented or leased vehicle while on university business, or
    • personally-owned vehicle.

    The first step in becoming an authorized driver is to complete the vehicle use agreement. Completing this form indicates the driver has read and understands the State Fleet Policy and Procedures Manual and it informs the driver of the obligation to reveal any changes in the status of that license. The information provided allows the institution risk manager to compare the individual's driving record to the minimum standards for driving and determine if they can be authorized to drive.

    Minimum Standards:

    1. Must have a valid driver's license (new residents to Wisconsin must obtain a WI driver's license within 60 days of residence; 30 days if the person holds a CDL.)
    2. Must have a minimum of two years licensed driving experience.
    3.Must be at least eighteen (18) years of age.

    Authorization will be denied if driving record reflects any of the following:

    • Three or more moving violations and/or at-fault accidents in the past two years
    • An OWI or DUI violation within the past year
    • License has been reinstated for less than one year after revocation
    Each month, a review of all driving records of employees with active Vehicle Use Agreements will be conducted. An employee who, as a result of the review, no longer meets minimum standards for driving a state vehicle shall have his/her agreement voided and their driving privileges suspended until such time that he/she can demonstrate meeting the standard.

    Students and agents may be authorized for a maximum of one year and must submit a new request for authorization.

    Exceptions may be made when use is deemed to be in the best interest of the University, however, any exceptions must be approved by the institution's risk manager as delegated by UW System Office of Risk Management. Copies of all exceptions will be kept at the Campus Risk Manager's Office.

    12/15 Passenger Van Driving:

    Special attention shall be given to the use of 12-15 passenger vans. It is highly recommended that consideration is given to the number of and weight of people and equipment. Neither size van should be loaded to capacity with passengers.

    Anyone requesting to drive a 12-15 passenger van must be an authorized driver and meet the following additional criteria, no exceptions : This applies to all owned, rented, or leased 12-15 passenger vans while on university business.

    1. Twenty-five (25) years of age or older.*
    2. Completion of a van training program which meets the standards established by DOA/BSRM . Authorization and proof of certification as a van driver must be received by the risk manager, or delegated party, prior to using the van.
    3. Abstinence from the use of drugs or alcohol on the specified driving day.
    4. Absolutely nothing is to be towed by or attached to 12-15 passenger vans.

    * Institutions may forego the age restriction IF a van is permanently converted to a cargo-only vehicle (restricted to one driver and one passenger) and the van will only be driven on campus or in the campus home city where speed will not exceed 35 mph. There are no exceptions to the van driver training requirement.

    Authorization Procedure

    Driver record checks are done through the Public Abstract Request System (PARS).  To request access to PARS contact the UW System Risk Management Office.

    Drivers with Out of State Driver’s Licenses

    A driver abstract from the state of issuance will have to be obtained and reviewed for minimum driving standards for any person with an out-of-state license, military license, or international license.  The Wisconsin DOT database tracks only Wisconsin issued licenses. Campuses may obtain abstracts directly or assist the employee in obtaining it.  Consult the following website that lists all State Departments of Transportation:  Drivers new to Wisconsin are required to apply for a Wisconsin driver's license within 30-60 days (depending on type of license) of establishing residency. 

    Drivers from Other Countries :

    Effective July 1, 2006, the only acceptable international driving permit is from Canada . Any driver who has an out-of-country license and is requesting approval to drive on university business must pursue a Wisconsin driver's license.


    In certain circumstances, contractors/vendors may need to drive state vehicles for business purposes. Since State-owned vehicles are not covered by auto liability, coverage could not be provided when non-state drivers drive state owned vehicles. However, while not encouraged, there are circumstances where it may be in the best interest of the state/agency in carrying out its official state business. These drivers must complete the Non-State Employee Vehicle Use Agreement, DOA-6000 and provide a Certificate of Insurance attesting they have their own primary auto liability insurance as well as Worker's Compensation. These drivers are subject to the minimum driving standards and evidence of current primary auto liability coverage must be kept on file at the Campus. These drivers have their driving record checked periodically. DOA/BSRM has established policy on this issue.

    1. Vehicle Use

      Vehicle use approval should only be given for university business including activities necessary to sustain a traveler away from home such as going out to eat (within a reasonable distance). A substantial or unreasonable use of a State vehicle for personal purposes may result in a decision that a driver is, was, or will be, operating outside of the scope of employment or agency.

      Some examples of approved usage are:

      a. Class related field trips that are for educational purposes and have on-site supervision by a UW employee or agent.
      b. Educational programs which require training to be taken off campus and are course-required. This does not include students who are required to train off campus on a regular basis as part of a practicum or internship.
      c. Business errands for a department.
      d. University-related conferences, meetings, and events; provided that a designated instructor/faculty advisor approves of the trip.
      e. Research under the supervision of a principle investigator or instructor.
      f. Volunteer programs that are under the supervision and control of the University, that provide benefit to the University, and that involve an agent agreement approved by risk management.

      Some examples of denial are:

      a. Individual research projects or course-work primarily for the personal benefit of a student working toward a degree.
      b. Student field trips that do not have the approval of the faculty or advisor and/or are not class related.
      c. Fraternity or sorority trips which are not related to student participation in institutional governance.

      Driving Vehicles Outside of Wisconsin :

      Authorized drivers who take a vehicle on university business into another state should be aware that many states require proof of insurance. Form 7, D.15 is a certificate of coverage which designed to provide proof of liability protection. A copy of the signed certificate must be placed in each vehicle.

      Use of Vehicles on University Business in Foreign Countries :

      A. Canada

      Drivers should be authorized through the same procedure described earlier. In addition, when driving a vehicle to Canada , a Canadian Automobile Liability Card must be carried in the vehicle at all times. These cards provide the necessary proof of insurance as required by Canadian officials. System Risk Management will provide these cards upon request. The cards can be used throughout the policy year and are valid for state/university owned vehicles used on university business. It is recommended these cards be collected and reused throughout the year.

      B. Mexico

      Drivers should be authorized through the same procedure described earlier. Mexico does not recognize foreign insurance ( U.S. insurance); therefore, it is required that all University drivers procure adequate auto liability and physical damage coverage before crossing the border. This coverage is not provided by the university and should be obtained from the rental agency or outside insurance carrier.

      Authorities in Mexico also require proof of ownership of the vehicle being driven. It is very important to have title to the vehicle before entering Mexico . The titles to University/State vehicles should be obtained well in advance of the travel. Contact DOA Central Fleet, at 608/266-3620 for a copy of the title to the vehicle.

      C. All other Countries

      The collision damage waiver must be purchased when renting/leasing vehicles in all other countries.

      Use of Personally Owned Vehicles on University Business:

      University officers, employees, and agents can drive their personally owned vehicles on university business. In the event of a loss, however, their personal auto liability insurance will be primary to the State coverage. The State will only provide excess liability coverage to drivers when they are using their personally owned vehicles and coverage for damage to the personally owned vehicle is not provided. For that reason, all drivers using their personally owned vehicle shall complete the driver authorization process prior to the trip and should carry personal auto liability insurance with limits of at least $100,000/$300,000/$50,000.

      Transporting work-related hazardous materials in your personal vehicle is not recommended and may be prohibited by campus policy. Some insurance carriers will not cover an accident claim if it involves work-related materials. Many personal vehicle insurance policies include a business-use exclusion

      If you plan on using a personal vehicle for university business, consult your insurance carrier for information on coverage. Inform your carrier if that business involves transporting hazardous materials.


      In general, non-employee and non-agent passengers are not allowed to ride in vehicles being used on university business due to the additional liability exposure which they pose. Exceptions to this rule arise when transportation is necessary or convenient for individuals who are dealing directly with, or are involved in, University or State business, or it is part of the mission of the university. Transportation of student athletic teams and students participating in institutional governance activities may be considered University business. Exceptions have also been made for disabled employees who need the assistance of a non-employee driver and long distance (300 miles round trip) trips where alternating drivers are necessary. Non-employee, non-agent, and non-student passengers must be approved from the institution risk manager. Passenger authorization is not the same as driver authorization.

      Rental Vehicles:

      The State or Big 10 approved auto rental vendors must be used whenever possible; the only exceptions are the following:

      1. The State or Big 10 vendor is unable to provide a vehicle at the location needed.
      2. A rental vehicle with a lower rate is available provided that rate includes the CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) and auto liability coverage.

      If a State or Big 10 approved vendor is used and the rental originates in the United States, the CDW does not need to be purchased as the coverage is already afforded in the contract. If justification allows renting from a “non-approved” vendor the use of the procurement card or travel card furnishes the required collision damage waiver and thus should not be purchased, and justification for choosing such an alternative must be provided.

      If it is necessary to rent a vehicle for travel outside the United States, the CDW must be purchased. Auto liability coverage should be purchased in an amount that meets the statutory requirements of the country.

      Additional information regarding vehicle rental contract vendors and applicable rates can be found on the UW TravelWIse website.

      Trailering and Towing:

      When a trailer is rented use the approved State vendor if possible. If it is not possible to use the State vendor it is important to purchase the CDW. If this type of activity is occurring with any frequency it would be advisable to add the trailer to the inventory.

      It is recommended that trailering is done only by professional drivers with CDLs when there is a business need to do so. Training is required by the Department of Administration for all drivers required to trailer if it is a business need and professional drivers holding a CDL is not at the disposal of the campus. The emphasis of training should be hands-on experience and demonstration of competency. The DOA has established guidelines that must be followed.


    Jump to Forms:

    Vehicle Pool and Functional Pool Vehicle Use Agreement or download as a MSWord document.
    Certificate of Coverage or download as a MSWord document.
    Proof of Vehicle Registration/Insurance

    Back to RM Manual Table of Contents

    Revised 10/15/08