19/08/09

Richard Stafford, Commercial Director of Quinn Insurance, discusses the importance of selecting an appropriate insurance provider and communicating effectively with them

Today, fleet managers are coming under increasing scrutiny to strike a balance between their operating costs, environmental factors and health & safety issues. The natural response is to seek to cut costs wherever possible, and one area which comes under particular fire can be fleet Insurance.

Like it or not, fleet insurance is essential. With that in mind, rather than blindly cutting levels of cover, managers should employ an insurance provider that has an in-depth understanding of the pressures they face and how their industry functions on a business level. Once they have selected the most suitable insurer, a close working relationship should be developed to ensure that the cost of their premium is kept to a minimum.

Most insurers provide free risk assessments, to help identify weaknesses in a business, which can increase the likelihood of an accident. Common fleet issues may be the level of security on the vehicles — burglar alarms, GPS tracking, etc — and the specific restrictions for fleet drivers, such as age and accident history. By heeding their advice and addressing any issues raised in the risk assessment, fleet managers can evaluate the cost of their insurance premium.

Despite taking all the necessary preventative measures, accidents are always going to occur. It is important that when they do, the insurer values the need to process any claims that arise quickly and effectively. Taking immediate action to ensure that an individual claimant is looked after establishes a sense of goodwill between this party and the business, supporting the company’s reputation, which is essential for customer loyalty and employee morale. Further to this, proactively handling claims helps businesses avoid unnecessary legal costs which could cost thousands of pounds, consume a lot of time and increase future premiums.

A growing concern for businesses is the rise in organised insurance fraud, particularly ‘crash for cash’ scams, which often target easily identifiable fleet vehicles. Such scams can result in dramatic increases to a company’s insurance costs. To reduce their susceptibility to such scams, businesses should brief drivers on how to protect themselves, for example, by taking pictures of the vehicles and recording the number of passengers in the claimant’s vehicle at the time of the accident. Again the necessity of having an insurer who values the importance of processing claims and contacting claimants quickly cannot be underestimated as they may uncover incongruities in their claim.

Many insurers are only too happy to provide their clients with advice on minimising risk and identifying fraud. However, this tends to be not very well communicated and as a result many managers are unaware of this support structure. It is up to both parties to develop a partnership that facilitates regular communications if the client is to get maximum value from their policy.

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