The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that an insured’s employee was a permissive user of a company automobile even though the employee violated the insured’s internal policies by driving under the influence of alcohol. Great Am. Alliance Ins. Co. v. Anderson, 2017 WL 521560 (11th Cir. Feb. 8, 2017).
The insured allowed its employee to drive a company automobile for both work and personal purposes, including specific permission to drive to the employee’s family lake house. The employee was driving the automobile under the influence of alcohol after leaving the lake house and was involved in an accident. The employee sought coverage under the insured’s auto policy that covered “anyone else while using with [the insured’s] permission a covered auto.” The insurer filed a declaratory judgment action against the employee and underlying plaintiff seeking a declaration that the employee’s use of the company automobile exceeded the scope of the permissive use granted by the insured because he drove while intoxicated in violation of a policy banning employees from working and driving under the influence of alcohol. The court found that the employee was not insured under the employer’s auto policy at the time of the accident because the employee had violated company policy. The underlying plaintiff appealed.
The Eleventh Circuit reversed, finding the employee was a permissive user of the company automobile even though the employee violated the employer’s policy by driving under the influence of alcohol. The Eleventh Circuit explained that the district court failed to apply the proper standard for determining permissive use, which addresses only whether the automobile was being used for an approved purpose. Finding that the employee was permitted to use the company automobile for personal purposes, the Eleventh Circuit found the employee was a permissive user and insured under the employer’s auto policy.