ACCIDENT MANAGEMENT: Manage accidents by managing the risk
09 January 2014
Accident management is increasingly heading in the direction of managing risk as much as bent metal, as Paul Barker discovers.
The managing of accidents traditionally involves controlling the process of getting a vehicle back on the road after an incident, taking in everything from initial impact and aftermath through repair and back into usage.
But the market is becoming increasingly complex in how it links in with other vehicle management systems in an attempt to prevent incidents from happening as well as managing them efficiently when they do.
"The development I see is people wanting the information, but not in isolation. They are using it to support a bigger risk management element," Hitachi Capital's fleet services manager Malcolm Roberts explains to BusinessCar, saying that data on accidents is increasingly being combined with maintenance, licence checks and telematics to provide a rounded view of driver risk.
"Cost and risk control are intrinsically linked - the more safely an employee drives, the less likely they are to have an accident; and if they do have an accident it's about using that information," says the RAC's head of accident services Jim Monteith.
"I think larger fleets understand the benefit of accident management, and most feed management information back from the accident management process into how to effect driver behaviour and the risk management space."
The RAC has recently announced a move back into the accident management sector, investing £2m in systems in the process.
Total Accident Management is another seeing more fleets look at the additional benefits rather than the pure repair process.
"Fleet managers are becoming more alive to the additional business benefits rather than cost containment - which is a given - that you can get from accident management," comments operations director Amanda Mullans.
"Accident management when delivered properly and well is more of a consultancy arm for the business, supporting the overall strategy so it doesn't fall foul of regulation." Mullans adds that accident management used to be "task-orientated rather than a strategic solution", but a shift has occurred in the past two years in particular.
There are still fleets that don't use any accident management offering, but in the main these are smaller fleets, according to the players we spoke to.
"From my experience, larger fleets are all taking it, it's the smaller ones that don't realise the potential," says Roberts, while Mullans says it's up to accident management firms to make sure companies understand the reasons for employing them.
"I think there's a little bit of a lack of awareness, or people have always done things in a certain way. Our job is to make them understand the benefits," she says. "From time to time you do come across people saying 'I didn't know we had a problem', or 'I didn't know it could be improved'."