Known as the Woolf reforms, after Lord Woolf's review of the insurance industry, they are designed to speed up the claims settlement process by introducing a fast-track approach. Fleets will have to supply the identity of their insurer within 21 days, and confirm within three months whether they are disputing a claim.
In a disputed liability case, a fleet must also provide within the three-month deadline a host of relevant documents, including repair estimates and invoices; MoT certificates where required; and maintenance records if a vehicle defect is alleged. Failure to do so may incur sanctions, or even invalidate a claim, although the courts and Government have yet to finalise any penalties.
Leading motor insurer Summit at Lloyd's has identified that up to 25% of all fleet motor claims would currently breach the Woolf deadlines because of employers' slowness in supplying relevant information. It says fleets are most at risk of breaching the new deadlines because of the involvement of several parties - including company car drivers, transport managers, fleet managers and brokers - in notifying claims.
Neil Batley, Summit's marketing manager, said: 'The Woolf reforms will bring about fundamental changes in claims handling. Policyholders must notify claims more quickly if we are to contain costs.'