One of your drivers has just had an accident but you don’t have the time to handle it.
That’s when a fleet service product like accident management is a useful tool.
Here’s an outline of the services available to fleets:
Essentially, fleet management is all the services (other than funding) that a contract hire or fleet management company can provide.
The list of services is huge, and includes vehicle purchase, maintenance control, invoice checking, vehicle excise duty renewal, vehicle disposal, accident management, provision of replacement vehicles, breakdown cover arrangements, management reporting and dealing with parking and speeding fines.
The advantage of using a fleet management service is that you have access to the supplier’s expertise and economies of scale.
They authorise necessary maintenance work, dispose of vehicles efficiently, get the right sales price and deal with all the day-to-day administration.
Experts handle each part of the process.
It is important to have an agreement that sets out very clearly who will do what.
Fleet management is suitable for large fleets needing a tailor-made service, medium-sized businesses wanting to outsource administrative functions, and cash-rich companies that buy their own vehicles and need administrative support.
Smaller companies tend to buy contract hire rather than fleet management.
Suppliers will tailor the services to your needs, but this comes at a price – off the shelf is usually much cheaper than tailor-made.
If it works for everyone else, do you really need to ask the supplier to bend their standard service to meet your needs?
Contract management means buying a maintenance package.
It’s useful if you want to buy your own cars but fix your running costs.
A typical package includes all the items normally found in a maintenance-inclusive contract hire agreement.
You pay a fixed price and the supplier takes the risk on the level of costs.
At its simplest, this means asking a third party to carry out some functions you previously handled in-house.
The supplier usually allocates dedicated support staff and provides detailed reports.
Many functions can be outsourced and it can offer lots of benefits.
It can reduce (or fix) your costs, reduce your risks, increase efficiency and be more flexible than in-house solutions, giving you access to better systems and purchasing power.
An accident management service takes away the work involved in processing the claim and getting the vehicle back on the road.
It puts it in the hands of specialists.
The service takes over from the moment of impact – arranging to remove the vehicle, inspecting the damage, obtaining repair quotes, accepting the best quote, inspecting the completed work, paying the repairer, handling claims paperwork, providing a courtesy car and handling correspondence with the other party’s insurer.
It’s usually a relief for the driver to hand over control to an expert who is emotionally detached from the distress of the accident.
But make sure that the driver is OK and that their needs have been taken care of first.
If one of your drivers has been involved in an accident they may be injured, upset, annoyed, traumatised, confused, disorientated, feeling guilty or angry.
They may have been in a serious accident and you may be the first person at work they have spoken to. They may need medical attention.
If you have an HR manager, tell them of the accident and advise the employee’s manager, too.
Most insurance policies give you the right to a courtesy vehicle when your car is off the road after an accident.
If the accident was not your fault you can ask a credit hire company to supply a vehicle to you at no cost.
They reclaim their hire charges from the at fault party’s insurer.
Many employers have come to realise that their drivers need on-going training if they are to be expected to drive safely.
Driver training organisations offer courses to suit all needs and budgets.
The ‘standard’ fleet driver course focuses on defensive driving.
The idea is that other drivers may drive badly but if you drive well you can minimise accident risks.
Also available are skid training, motorway driving courses, off-road courses, post-accident counselling and courses tailored to your specific needs.
A good approach is to send drivers for training in groups according to the level of risk they are exposed to.
For example, groups of high-mileage drivers, or those with poor accident records, might be the first to receive training.
- This article is an abridged version ofa section from Managing Your Company Cars in Nine Easy Steps, published by Eye-level Books in association with Daimler Fleet Management.
- Fleet News readers can buy the book for just £12 (retail price £15) by logging on to www.tourick.com and entering the code 1598.