Managing your commercial fleet

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5 steps to keeping your business moving.

Every business needs to understand the risks it faces to be successful.

By understanding the risks, you can anticipate what’s coming around the next corner. Creating a robust risk management programme can help you build the resilience you need to keep your business growing.

When it comes to risk management for commercial vehicle fleets, having a strategy is crucial for the smooth running of your business. Whether your fleet consists of five or five hundred vehicles, collating the information needed can feel like an endless exercise.

The risks also vary depending on the type of commercial fleet. For example, the challenges faced by the haulage and logistics sector will differ significantly from those that could impact a business with a fleet of company cars.

Add in other factors such as the type of goods you are transporting, and whether international travel is involved, and the risks change again.

Building resilience against these risks starts with identifying and understanding them.

How to manage your commercial fleet risk

Fleet risk management is the process by which you can make sure your drivers, other fleet employees and the vehicles owned by your business are safe and secure.

  1. Claims and accident trends

Analysing the insurance claims and accidents that have happened can help you take preventative measures to reduce future incidents. For example, routes, time of journeys and specific drivers.

Your insurer should be able to provide accident/claims data to include:

  • Accident circumstances such as day, date, time and location
  • Vehicle(s) involved
  • Driver(s) involved
  • Claim types
  • Cost analysis

Some motor fleet insurers employ specialist fleet surveyors who carry out more in-depth analysis that identifies significant problem areas and provide recommendations.

  1. Driver safety

A robust commercial fleet risk management programme should include:

  • Driver training – all drivers should be fully trained to operate their allocated vehicles. Make sure there are strict rules in place to prevent unqualified staff operating vehicles that they are not licenced or trained to use. Drivers should be fully aware of the company’s safety policies and the broader compliance regulations in which it operates.
  • Journey planning and load safety –including load security, carrying of hazardous goods, loading and unloading of vehicles and operation of tail lifts.  
  • Telematics/dash-cams – in-cab technology allows drivers to be warned when they are distracted, are becoming drowsy and/or are driving in an unsafe manner. Monitoring drivers via telematics data can highlight patterns, such as late braking, speeding and tailgating

These steps not only help your drivers adopt safer driving habits but can help target driver training and fleet management resources.

  1. Fleet insurance

Having insurance is mandatory. Having the right insurance designed for your business is crucial. You can go online and buy a fleet policy. However, having an insurance adviser working with you can make a huge difference when it comes to renewal and claims management.

The renewal process should start two or three months before the renewal date. A fleet insurance adviser who understands your business will be on your side and help you with the renewal presentation. This should include claims trends, the plans and actions being taken to reduce claims and accidents, the people involved in managing your fleet etc. It’s far more than just how many vehicles you have and how many accidents have happened.

When it comes to claims, you really need an insurance adviser on your side to make sure the process is handled as swiftly and smoothly as possible. They’ll also work with you to negotiate the claims reserve figure determined by the insurance provider. The claims reserve is a fund set aside by the insurance company for a claim that has been reported but not settled and can have a significant impact on renewal terms.

  1. Compliance and regulations 

One of the biggest headaches facing fleet managers is keeping up with the rules that govern commercial fleet operations and the related paperwork.

Fleet audits, driver policy, handbooks and inductions, including procedures for agency drivers, are all required.

License checking of all drivers should be conducted at least annually.

Health & Safety legislation requires you to have accident reporting and investigation procedures as well as risk assessments and safe operating procedures, including manual handling and the operation of tail lifts and fork-lift trucks.

Without a clear plan in place, it’s easy for things to get missed – and that can have significant consequences.

  1. Fleet maintenance 

Vehicle maintenance is vital as it affects driver safety and fleet efficiency.

By using technology, you can efficiently maintain vehicles by monitoring areas such as engine data, tyre pressure and braking systems.  This technology helps fleet risk management by providing alerts on issues before they become problems. It can support your vehicle maintenance programme by keeping costs down whilst improving safety.

Regular vehicle inspections, service and MOTs are key as well as the inspection of tail lifts and FLTs in accordance with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER).

Creating your fleet risk management plan

There are extensive tools available for fleet risk management including:

  • Driver training
  • Hardware – trackers, cameras, telematics, speed limiters
  • Vehicle management – including inspections
  • License checking
  • Support with compliance and regulations – including driver policy, handbooks and health & safety documentation.

Your fleet insurance adviser should help you with risk management as well as the actual insurance cover. They may have a preferred or recommended provider, so you should always refer to them in the first instance.