Every time a fleet driver is involved in an accident, their employer will have to sell more than £22,000 of products or services to cover the cost.
The startling figure, from analysis of fleet accidents carried out by Fleet Support Group, reveals the far reaching implications of a high driver incident rate. Many companies exceed 30%, which means a third of their drivers are involved in an accident every year.
FSG’s research of two clients reveals that, assuming a net profit margin of 5% and that the ‘true’ cost of crashes - lost orders and output, salaries, administration costs, legal fees and general business interruption - is three times the claims cost, each accident has a cost per claim of £1,116. Client A had 156 crashes over a three-year period.
Geoffrey Bray, FSG chairman, says: “That meant that the company had to sell goods to the value of £3.5 million simply to cover the cost of the crashes. Such a large figure is alarming and should act as a wake-up call to all businesses.”
A second FSG client cut its crash rate by 31% over the three-year period, but in 2009 still saw its vehicles involved in 25 road accidents. As a result, FSG has calculated that the business would have to sell goods to the value of almost £600,000 to cover the cost of the incidents.
Introducing accident management strategies can be one of the most effective money saving measures for company fleets, according to FSG.
However, many fleets are sceptical, questioning how accident management companies make money and whether there are real benefits from signing up. Bodyshops also query the wisdom of employing a third party to act between them and their fleet customer.
As one bodyshop manager told Fleet News: “This is a job we can do ourselves. We can manage the accident through to completion; it doesn’t need third party involvement.”
Accident management companies argue that they can bring savings by negotiating lower rates with a network of body repairers selected on price and service. They also point to the need to step in when a third party is involved to minimise claim costs and the role they can play in uninsured loss recovery.
And they have their own in-house teams to assess every repair estimate to make sure bodyshops are quoting a competitive price.
By contracting an accident management company, the company is enabling drivers to get back on the road quickly, which will reduce the financial impact of loss in production time.
Total Accident Management’s network includes mobile repair companies as well as bodyshops, which helps to manage smaller repairs, driving the client costs down by an estimated 17%.
For accident management companies to be effective within fleets, a quick response time is essential, says Penny Stoolman, managing director at Total Accident Management.
“We work with companies to educate the drivers on the importance of obtaining third party information as quickly as possible,” she adds.
A rapid response time can enable accident management companies to get drivers back on the road quickly and recover the costs for the accident. When a fleet driver is at fault, it can also enable them to contact the third party in time to manage the repairs of their vehicle and keep costs down.
In addition to managing costs that occur after an accident, fleets can use the data provided to highlight drivers that may need further training, any routes that are potentially hazardous or reoccurring trends in damage or events enabling companies to lower costs further.
For example, if a proportion of accidents are taking place in a car park, driver training can be implemented to improve vehicle parking.
Campaign director for Driving for Better Business Caroline Scurr says: “Reducing the number of crashes involving at work drivers is proven to save thousands and, in the case of large fleets, millions of pounds. In addition, cutting the carnage improves business efficiency and the image of an organisation.”
Bolton-based Fostering Solutions has faced no rise in its insurance premium for three years after implementing a ‘driving at work safely’ campaign. It includes a driver’s handbook, training and annual checks on all fleet vehicles, including grey fleet drivers. This not only stopped fleet insurance from increasing, but also reduced its overall costs as the number of accidents fell.
Vehicle and documentation checks and regular eye tests can also help to reduce accident rates by ensuring both the driver and the vehicle is roadworthy. In particular, deteriorating eye sight can be a contributing factor to road accidents, as highlighted by Elite Incident Management.
“Eye sight deteriorates over time; companies have a responsibility to enforce regular eye tests for drivers,” explains Philip da Silva, Elite chief executive.
Sainsbury’s carries out annual vehicle checks on its company vehicles and uses management of company mileage to determine when a vehicle is ready for a service.
As companies start building for growth and begin increasing their mileage, the propensity for accidents to occur rises. But by implementing polices that tackle accidents, they can substantially reduce costs, increase productivity and contribute to safer roads.
And it means that revenue made from its products or services goes to the bottom line instead of being funnelled off to pay for accident damage.