WHAT LINKS ACCIDENTS WITH RISK MANAGEMENT?

It is mostly the case that fleets buy risk management as a separate service to accident management.  In fact most fleets still use the insurer helpline for managing claims.  This way of doing things is due partly to tradition and partly because very few risk management providers are set up to provide an integrated claims service into what they do.

In reality, accidents have everything to do with risk management.  They often demonstrate a lack of a safety culture, they offer clues as to how to reduce risk and they also demonstrate whether any risk initiatives are working or not.  However, despite this, claim statistics are normally only considered once a year around the renewal date of the fleet insurance policy.

If claims are only viewed once a year then fleets are likely to miss improvement opportunities by linking them, as they occur, with other gathered risk management data in order to arrive at an accurate overall risk profile of each driver. So let us look at some of these potential links between risk management and the occurrence of motor fleet accidents:

First, there is an important link between legal requirements and reducing accidents because the government provides a framework for legal compliance that is designed to reduce claim frequency. Examples are the need to have safety policies in place and also the circumstances under which fleets and individuals can become legally liable for negligence.  If fleets therefore choose to comply by implementing driving safety policies then the theory is that accidents will reduce.

Second, there is a link between accumulated risk data and a fleet’s ability to use this to prevent accidents in the future. Accident data accumulates on an ongoing basis so the same constant approach should be applied for any risk management initiatives.  Regular reviews of management information should reveal how claims are influencing risk and perhaps more importantly, how and whether risk initiatives are reducing claims.  If fleets choose to consolidate risk data and use the results in the right way then the possibility of reducing accidents increases.

Third, as a risk management tool, in-vehicle ‘black-box’ technology and cameras constantly monitor driving behavior and can often ‘predict’ which drivers are most likely to have an accident. Some systems also issue an alert for impacts that exceed a pre-agreed G-force that may indicate an accident has occurred.  Additionally, the technology can often confirm the liability position in a claim by providing visual evidence from the cameras. So, if fleets choose to use the data that telematics systems offer then a greater chance of avoiding future accidents arises. Perversely, however, a fleet could be accused of negligence if, having invested in a telematics system, a driver who causes a serious fault accident had not been picked up as a high risk from the telematics data because the system had not been monitored regularly and remedial action had not been taken. Most fleets who buy these systems are unaware of this potential liability.

Fourth, a link is made every year between historic claims performance (and levels of implemented risk management initiatives) and the calculation of the fleet insurance premium.  So from an insurance point of view the level of risk and level of claims are intrinsically linked. Clearly if a fleet chooses to buy less cover then greater steps to reduce driving risk will need to be taken.

Fifth, a key link is also evident between claim causation factors (taken at the ‘first notification’ stage) and the subsequent action taken to prevent that risk arising again in the future.  Learning more about why an accident occurred allows a much more prescriptive approach to designing course material for driver training, which in turn would make such training far more effective.

CONSTRAINTS ON LINKS

Having establish there are several links between claims and risk management, let us now examine what would be needed to make those links function effectively:

TECHNICAL – First of all, claims always occur historically but by definition, the art of reducing risk needs a constant eye on the future.  This means somebody who understands all the trends, links and effective diagnoses needs to examine carefully what has happened historically in order to plan strategically for the future.  This ability has technical implications for company systems, people skills and length of experience.

OPERATIONAL – Secondly, the operational team needs to be multi-skilled in all the aspects of each service and this includes practical delivery skills, technical and customer service skills. This has implications for both recruitment as well as ongoing training requirements. The intricacies of dealing with a complex claim requires very different skills to those required to interpret a telematics data stream or indeed to decide on what would be the appropriate remedial action for a driver with varying risk results from claims, telematics and licence check data.

SYSTEMS – The software requirements to manage claims are different to those required to deliver a multi-dimensional risk management solution.  The system not only needs to allocate dynamic data to both the driver and the vehicle but also need to have embedded coding designed to identify high risk data from

All these practicalities might explain why it is rare to find a fleet risk management provider who can truly integrate its services with the requirements of a full accident management service, although there are some in the UK.  The advantages of linking accident management with a risk reduction program as a truly consolidated and single solution are considerable for all the reasons listed here.

At RVM our integrated approach allows us to help fleets to implement effective safety policies, analyse trends and identify high risk drivers. Our Driver Training program is targeted, timely and appropriate. The result is lower accident rates, improved driver safety, and reduced costs. Contact us on 01132248800 to find out more.

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