Savvy fleet operators are saving millions of pounds by focusing on incident prevention and appointing incident management experts, says Mark Chessman

Fleet operators could save huge sums of money in incident bills by broadening their focus to encompass all costs within the incident process, not just repair costs. Whilst the cost of repairing bent metal is significant, it is only one part of a larger financial picture, and incident management specialists are finding new and innovative ways to reduce overall claims costs for their customers.

The vehicle repair market already operates with very tight margins and squeezing them tighter will force some repairers to refuse to deliver services at that rate, based on current market dynamics. Instead, savvy fleet operators are saving millions of pounds by increasing their focus on third party cost mitigation, speed of reporting and incident prevention, and appointing incident management experts to scrutinise every cost and process throughout the entire incident management process.

Companies like FMG recognise the hidden costs of incidents and provides advice and services to optimise cost-saving opportunities. FMG has spent 30 years managing, analysing and preventing fleet incidents and has some valuable advice for fleet operators looking to reduce the cost of incidents.

Prevent the incident from happening in the first place

Focusing on the safety of the driver is now recognised as one of the best approaches to reducing fleet costs. Driver behaviour telemetry has been proven to reduce the severity of, and prevent, incidents from happening in the first place, by monitoring the way vehicles are being driven and motivating drivers to adopt safer driving techniques. Along with a reduction in incident rates, fleet operators are witnessing fuel cost savings and insurance premium reductions.

Performance dashboards enable drivers, line managers and fleet managers to monitor the way in which vehicles are being driven, presenting data from an on-board vehicle device which captures journey times, speed, acceleration, braking and cornering. Drivers receive encouraging feedback on driving behaviour or suggestions for improvement. This includes links to free of charge online training modules to address specific issues in order to prevent incidents.

Better driver behaviour reduces the probability of incidents, and ultimately third party claims. Incidents may be rarer, but do still happen, and the circumstances leading up to the incident can be analysed using data gathered by the telematics device. Irrefutable and impartial evidence relating to speed, location and motion control information can help to accurately assess liability, challenge claims and identify potentially fraudulent claims.

Report the incident immediately

When incidents occur, the driver’s actions in the immediate aftermath play a vital role in mitigating overall claims costs. Providing it is safe to do so, drivers are urged to record incident details and third party contact details accurately and report the incident to their incident management partner immediately.  That first call is vitally important. Within the hour, fast-acting incident management specialists capture incident data, assess liability and contact the third party to offer vehicle repair and replacement services. Such speed is fundamental in reducing the risk of the third party pursuing or being approached by potentially expensive hire car companies, credit repair services and personal injury businesses, as the costs of these services would be recovered from the at-fault party. A 24/7/365 first notification of loss (FNOL) service unmistakably yields the upper hand over services with limited availability.

Seek flexible repair options to minimise downtime

Getting the vehicle back on the road as quickly as possible following an incident is crucial to minimising repair and replacement vehicle costs, and some repairers are better equipped than others. Working with a quality-assured bodyshop network saves the time and hassle of locating repairers, collecting estimates, negotiating parts and labour prices, and ensuring the quality of the repair.

These days, the traditional bodyshop repair is not the only route. Fleet operators should seek out a progressive, flexible repair network which offers a range of high-quality repair options to reduce vehicle off road (VOR) time to an absolute minimum.

One-day repair options include SMART repair, mobile repair at the driver’s location and one-day bodyshop repair.  Better still, further downtime-reducing services include parts pre-ordering, repairing rather than replacing parts and out-of-hours repair services.

The most reliable incident management partners have highly trained automotive engineers and intelligent triage systems which specialise in verifying that the appropriate option is selected, repair costs are reasonable and the repair duration is fair and accurate.

Control third party costs

Third party costs can provide the financial sting in the tail following at-fault incidents. Own-vehicle damage is limited to the value of the vehicle yet third party costs can spiral uncontrollably if left unmanaged.

It doesn’t have to be that way and fleet operators, insurance companies and brokers are increasingly turning to outsourced third party service experts, to capture the third party and control their claims costs following at-fault incidents.

They limit third party costs by getting the third party back on the road in a sensible grade of replacement vehicle, not necessarily like-for-like, whilst maintaining the momentum of an efficient and cost-controlled repair on the third party’s vehicle. Third party experts can professionally negotiate potentially costly personal injury claims on the driver’s behalf,

The best way to minimise the cost of incidents is by investing in incident prevention. Focusing on driver safety, particularly through the implementation of driver behaviour telemetry, reduces the impact and frequency of incidents, reducing fleet operating costs and minimising risk within fleet. However, as long as businesses rely on vehicles for their operation, incidents will happen. The role of the incident management provider is to offer the expertise to challenge, mitigate and reduce costs at every opportunity within the incident repair process, whilst delivering high quality services throughout the entire claims process.

Mark Chessman is managing director – operations at FMG, with responsibility for the daily operation of FMG’s business. A highly experienced business leader and qualified management accountant, Mark has considerable fleet industry knowledge and expertise. He plays a vital role in further enhancing FMG’s customer service proposition.

Cardinus provides all types of fleet risk management products including online driver training, driver risk assessment, in-vehicle driver training and fleet risk management consultancy.

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