Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has halted trade for many businesses, it has only increased the pressure on courier and delivery services. More people are ordering online to avoid visiting stores, leading to a rapid increase in deliveries and subsequently added pressure on drivers. With all of the rushing around, things like driver training and vehicle maintenance can start to fall behind. This could lead to costly payouts if you aren’t keeping to your business fleet insurance policy requirements. With higher reports of speeding since the pandemic, it is key to make managing your commercial lorry insurance a priority in case of an incident.
Managing your fleet following lockdown can seem like a juggling act when you’re under pressure. The following steps are things to watch out for in case they have slipped under your radar.
Behind on driver training
Fleet Source’s recent survey found that 57% have said that their drivers are behind on CPC training hours and 94% of booked driver training has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Now that restrictions have eased slightly, it is crucial to get back on top of driver training. Lack of training can heighten the risk of road accidents and increase the number of insurance claims which can be costly. Social distancing rules obviously make driver training tricky, but there are ways to adapt.
Prioritise drivers in order of who needs training most to stagger the number of people participating. Those who have forgotten vital information and have overdue training should be the first to attend, followed by those nearing their overdue date. You can also create a survey for your drivers to get a sense of how they are coping with working during the pandemic and how confident they feel in their job knowledge and expertise. This will give you a good oversight of who may require refresher training on certain topic areas and how supported your drivers feel with the new regulations and requirements.
There are plenty of remote and virtual driver training providers which host roughly 20-minute sessions, covering a range of topics. These include vehicle maintenance and care, risk mitigation, legal obligations and coronavirus guidance. A couple of training suppliers have moved online to continue the upkeep of public health and road safety whilst adapting to the new normal. Some training providers are even offering free services to business operators whose drivers are essential during the pandemic.
If your driver training isn’t up to date, it can affect your ability to claim on your business fleet insurance policy, so be sure to make this a priority.
Backlog of maintenance checks and MOT’s
Now is the time to catch up with any vehicle repairs and maintenance checks with garages re-opening for business. However, many of them will be overloaded now that everyone is desperate to get their repairs done, so anticipate delays and carry out as much of your own checks as possible.
Fortunately, the government extended any MOT’s expiring between the 30th March and 31st July by 6 months, giving you plenty of time to get them booked in the following lockdown. However, with other businesses like yours in the same boat, it is important to book in sooner rather than later to manage your fleet and maintain the safety of your vehicles.
Dealing with reports or claims
Your drivers may have been involved in minor accidents or submitted reports in the past few months, which have been stuck in processing due to increased call times and social distancing restrictions. However, it is important to check-in and makes sure these don’t get lost of forgotten about. Unreported incidents could jeopardise your ability to make a claim against your commercial lorry insurance policy.
Avoid unnecessary costs
Monitoring your business expenses will be crucial if the cost of vehicle maintenance and parts increases following the pandemic. Outsourced maintenance shops will most likely be operating during limited opening hours which may cause delays in deliveries of service parts and the prices of parts may rise if they are in steep demand. Therefore, preventative maintenance is crucial to reduce the risk of vehicle malfunctions and unexpected expenses.
Installing a telematics system would enable you to monitor any reckless driving which could cause potential damage to vehicles, as well as fuel consumption and idling time. This can help you to maximise the effectiveness of your fleet and keep costs down, which in turn will keep your business fleet insurance premiums down.
Employee Safety Regulations
As an employer, you must provide a safe working environment for your employees by implementing sanitisation procedures and social distancing measures. If employees interact with customers, you will need to provide gloves, masks and antibacterial gel and possibly additional protective equipment.
Social distancing guidelines must be adhered to by all staff and daily vehicle cleaning must be carried out before and after use. Having a database to record daily inspections of vehicles will maintain these regulations and give a clear record of sanitation practices.
Long term changes to your business
A decline in vehicle usage and an increase in video calls and virtual meetings may lead to the restructuring of your business fleet. Depending on the type of fleet you manage, you may require vehicle changes in order to future proof your fleet management.
You may be considering switching to electric vehicles as travel has been restricted following lockdown or decrease the number of vehicles in your fleet. If you do decide to increase or decrease the size of your fleet, be sure update this on your business fleet insurance policy.
Tony Jewitt is a Director at Avis Insurance, the UK based commercial truck insurance. He established Avis Insurance in 1983 initially as general insurance and mortgage brokers, before specialising completely on truck and haulage insurance markets from 2016. He has extensive experience in the insurance industry and is passionate about presenting his clients with customised solutions.