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Letters to Fleet News' editor Martyn Moore.

Leasing firms should share grey fleet blame

I read with interest your recent article (January 3) highlighting the fact that one third of grey fleet drivers who lease cars without maintenance are failing to have vital safety work carried out.

The finger was being pointed at the bedroom brokers.

However, many of the biggest leasing companies are fuelling these problems by giving these cheap rates to brokers in the first place.

Ten to 15 years ago, brokers found it harder to gain entry to the market.

Only the best brokers had access to contract hire products. But as the banks have entered the market and the pressure for growth increases, standards appear to have lowered.

Brokers, who often have no more than a fancy website, are given access to the major leasing company rates, and, by finding out a customer’s allowance, are selling them a rate to maximise their commission.

Excluding maintenance may increase commission by £700-£800.

If the major bank and manufacturer-owned leasing companies do not improve the way in which they vet and control brokers, there will always be people willing to offer grey fleet drivers non-maintained, cheap deals to the maximum of their allowance.

And while the companies employing these drivers have a duty of care towards their employees, what are they expected to do when a driver turns to them and says that they have spent their allowance and cannot afford necessary repairs or, worse still, decide not to tell their employer and continue to drive the car with defective and illegal tyres.

Many of the major leasing companies will tell you that it is part of their strategy to use brokers to enable them to reach the small fleets.

While it has never been our policy at Sandicliffe Motor Contracts to work with smaller brokers, I understand the role the better ones play.

But we will see the emergence of more bedroom brokers encouraging drivers to take out non-maintained deals to the maximum of their allowance.

If you turn to a financial adviser for a mortgage, they have a duty to ensure you can afford the repayments before they arrange it for you.

Isn’t it high time that the major leasing companies insisted on similar best practice from their brokers, striking off those who do not comply?

IAN MIDDLETON
Managing director, Sandicliffe Motor Contracts

Insurance and young drivers

Regarding your story on introducing a blanket ban on under-25s driving company vehicles (February 14), this may prove difficult in practice.

Insurance companies can refuse to insure people under or over a certain age as they are not covered by age discrimination regulations.

If all insurance companies refused fleet insurance on this basis, it would be possible for an employer to say that people under 25 could not drive a company vehicle as the requirement for all drivers to be insured would supercede that not to discriminate on grounds of age.

There may, however, be a problem when only some insurance companies introduce such a ban.

I think it would then be incumbent upon a fleet manager to look around for other insurers and obtain other quotes.

If they are wildly expensive, it may be possible to justify the ban on under-25s – although normally expense alone will not amount to sufficient justification. It would need to be tested and I am not aware of any reported cases.

I would certainly caution against introducing a blanket ban just because your current insurer refuses to issue insurance to under-25s as I think there is a real risk of being found to be in breach of age discrimination regulations if no further enquiries have been made.

AMANDA DINGLE
Legal adviser, Bulfin & Co, employment law solicitors

Finding the right solution to road risks

We have around 230 vehicles on our fleet, which is 80% commercial vehicles.

For the past 18 months we have been reviewing desk-based solutions to address our exposure to road risks.

We have followed the advice of the Health and Safety Executive to assess our risks as the first step and decided on a desk-based solution for this.

Having a licence check was very important.

Some of the systems on offer have given us nothing but laughs at just how inconsistent they are.

We tried nine systems until we happened to come across the new Roadmarque system by chance after attending a Safe and Sound seminar. I was delighted to find that this software gives us incredibly accurate results on individual risk, a direct licence check with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and carbon footprint per driver data, which was a bonus.

I can study the results and work out a cost-effective plan to reduce my risks moving forward. It costs less than of a set of wiper blades per driver.

This is a big headache removed and leaves me to concentrate on other important areas of my fleet.

DOMINIC KEEBLE
Fleet & facilities manager, Coinspinner Entertainments Group
 

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