Jon Dye, director of underwriting - motor, QBE Europe
The impact on the fleet industry during Covid-19 lockdown has been two extremes.
Some have seen operations stop completely due to government measures, while others have seen surges in demand.
Regardless, as we return to a version of ‘normality’, these businesses will need to think carefully about how the easing of lockdown affects their risk profile, safety and in turn, their insurance.
As lockdown measure lift, albeit at different rates throughout the country, business owners will need to make sure they pay close attention to making sure their vehicles are in a road-worthy condition, be mindful of driver wellbeing, and be ready for new risks on the road.
It’s important for directors, managers and drivers to take ownership to ensure all vehicles are safe and legal to either continue operating or to return to the road.
Before putting vehicles back on the road you should check that you have appropriate road tax and insurance in place. We would also advise fleet managers to check that all vehicle details held on the Motor Insurance Database (MID) are up to date
And there are other things to consider. For fleets that have been off the road, inspection of tyres, breaks, fluid levels, and general condition are all important steps to ensuring vehicles have remained road-worthy.
With MOT stations closed, exemptions were made if a vehicle’s MOT was about to expire, something QBE and the insurance industry has been comfortable in supporting.
That will come to an end on August 1 and with previously laid up fleets gearing up to return to the road, extra care needs to be taken to make sure vehicles are road-worthy and follow regulations.
While those that expired during lockdown will still see an extension of a further six months, I recommend getting booked in as soon as you can as demand for MOT services is likely to be extremely high for a number of months.
Employees and drivers may also be feeling rusty after a few months off the road and you may want to consider measures such as refresher safety courses for drivers.
Not to mention, the Covid-19 outbreak has affected peoples’ physical and mental health and wellbeing in many different ways.
It is essential that businesses understand how stress and anxiety can affect driver behaviour, in order to manage the risks
So what new risks and trends may we experience over the coming months?
We could see more traffic on the road as people continue to avoid public transport. Combine this with a likely increase in vulnerable road users (e.g. cyclists, many of whom do not have a significant amount of experience of riding on roads, e-bikes, e-scooters and pedestrians) and all of these risks will need to be considered as they have the potential to lead to an increase in claims as well as serious implications for safety.
As a result, we are likely to see a changing pattern in accident trends and the associated costs. Along with uplifts in relation to the cost of claims, as pressure mounts on hourly labour rates, parts prices and general inflation we could see more severe injuries. This may be balanced by more people working from home or less economic activity but time with tell.
Businesses need to ensure they are taking the necessary steps to mitigate these risks by working with their insurer to focus on effective fleet risk management initiatives, which will help to reduce road accidents, and therefore cost to their business, to a minimum.