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Unavoidable accidents: how to steer clear of the additional costs

Date: 30 August 2016   |   Author: Debbie Wood

According to the Driving for Better Business campaign, more than 150 vehicles driven on business are in an accident every day, while each week around 200 road deaths and serious injuries involve someone at work.

Despite fleets having robust risk-management schemes in place or offering new initiatives to keep their drivers as safe as possible while out driving for business, sometimes road accidents are simply unavoidable.

Reaction time after an accident is everything when it comes to managing cost - First Insurance Solutions' figures show that insurance claims can be 30% cheaper if picked up in 24 hours, even if your driver is at fault, and then there's the associated vehicle downtime costs to consider too.

FMG, a leading incident management provider, believes reporting accidents immediately is critical and urges fleet managers to do more to educate drivers about capturing the essential information following an accident.

"As long as businesses rely on vehicles for their operation, incidents will happen," CEO Mark Chessman tells BusinessCar. "Delays in reporting the incident drastically reduce the opportunity to capture and control the third-party costs,"

According to Chessman, failing to capture third-party details can result in an increase in the entire cost of an incident by up to 900%. This could, for example, be due to repairs that could have been completed within 10 days lingering on for up to 90 days if unmanaged, coupled with excessive replacement vehicle charges and other associated claims costs also increasing.

Colin Knight, fleet safety audit manager at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, agrees and says it's important that fleet managers have quick access to the relative information concerning the driver and vehicles involved in the incident.

"The best advice would be to always ensure the compliance documentation is up to date for every vehicle and every driver and stored in a location that is easily accessible in the event of an incident," he says.

He urges fleet managers to make sure that paperwork such as vehicle maintenance schedules, daily vehicle safety checks and risk assessments are readily available either in the car, or logged somewhere easy to find in the office, as they will need to be examined in a police investigation.

Recording the information

The driver's actions and the information they record at the scene of the incident can play a vital role in mitigating overall claims costs and reducing vehicle downtime.

The essential information drivers need to capture include:

?  Third-party and witness name and contact details

?  The number of passengers in the third-party vehicle

?  Photos of the vehicles' positions at the scene and damage where possible

?  Vehicle registration plates

?  Any road markings

?  Weather conditions

Recording incident details and third-party and witness contact information accurately allows liability to be established early and claims to be processed quickly, reducing replacement vehicle charges.

Taking pictures can also provide the police and insurance companies with vital evidence to reduce the likelihood of split liability.

"Camera technology can potentially provide conclusive evidence to support liability decisions following incidents. This in turn can reduce costly and potentially lengthy decisions and third-party fraud, and can significantly reduce downtime," says Chessman.

Being involved in an accident can be a very distressing time for a driver, and sometimes company policies can be forgotten.

That's why crash kits stored in the car, like those offered from CrashMate, are important for helping drivers to capture all the information. The packs include a pen and pencil, a camera, a tape measure and pre-drawn diagram layouts that help drivers draft scenes out on paper.

FMG provides driver packs too, including a wallet-sized card showing the number to call in the event of an incident and what the firm calls 'bump cards' - pre-completed cards with driver and vehicle details that can be given to the third party at the scene of the incident.

According to the firm, these cards can also prompt third parties to call FMG before contacting anyone else, resulting in an opportunity for intervention and, therefore, cost savings.

In-car safety systems

Car manufacturers have made big technological advancements in safety over recent years, and as well as the various driving aids and autonomous technology now available, there are also systems that will automatically alert the emergency services if an accident occurs.

Vauxhall is among the first to introduce a system such as this. Called OnStar, it will automatically alert an advisor if the airbags are deployed. That person will then attempt to contact your driver in the car, helping them through the accident process. The doors can also be remotely unlocked and the drivers' location downloaded directly from the vehicle's navigation system so the emergency and recovery services can find where they are much quicker.

Take away responsibility

Another option fleets can consider is dashcams, which take the responsibility away from the driver to record certain information as it's captured on film.

Richard Browning, director of the UK's best-selling dashcam manufacturer, Nextbase, believes that besides the extra peace of mind dashcams offer, there's also significant financial incentives fleets should be considering.

"Insurers are beginning to offer exclusive discounts to fleets that have dashcams equipped," he tells BusinessCar. "The sooner footage gets sent to the insurer or back to HQ, if they self-insure, the quicker fleets can get their vehicles and personnel back on the road."

According to Browning, many of Nextbase's fleet clients are introducing incentive schemes to make sure the footage is sent over as quickly as possible; however, he concludes, in his experience, this isn't a prerequisite because most drivers are willing to share their footage.

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