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Blog: Replacement vehicle hygiene - is it the missing link in a ‘Covid-safe’ motor insurance supply chain?

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There have been many challenges over the last six months. James Roberts, business development director for insurance at Europcar Mobility Group, believes there is clear evidence that the motor insurance sector has adapted well, responding to customer need despite the fact that call centres rapidly relocated to home working or reduced employee attendance in the office.

James Roberts Europcar
James Roberts, business development director for insurance at Europcar Mobility Group

The motor insurance sector has adapted well to the challenges of the last six months, responding to customer need despite the fact that call centres became home working centres or ran on skeleton staff in the office.

The ‘stay at home’ message also, of course, had a significant impact on personal car usage in the first few months of the pandemic. But from June onwards, as the government encouraged people to get back into the workplace, traffic increased and so too did the number of accidents.

That presented a new challenge to claims teams – how to manage vehicle repairs for customers in a safe way that would give them confidence that their wellbeing was front of mind. And that needed to include the provision of a replacement vehicle while repairs are undertaken. After all, there is often a clear contractual promise from insurer to insured that in the case of an accident their onward mobility will be sustained.

How to deliver on that promise has, therefore, been something that insurers have had to address as a priority.

Garages and bodyshops, supported by their industry associations, responded well to the need for hygiene and social distancing for employees and customers. But the further you get down the supply chain, from the garage to the replacement vehicle, it is crucial that customer confidence remains foremost. For that reason a forensic examination of processes applied by every organisation in the supply chain is crucial, including replacement vehicle supply, particularly as a number of providers in the sector rely on insured customers collecting their replacement vehicle from a branch.

Covid-19 put a spotlight on interaction with anyone outside of a known family bubble. So the way replacement vehicles for insurance customers were delivered became crucially important – to customer confidence and retention for insurers in the long-term.

Some, like Europcar, worked with new partners to provide the evidence so necessary for motor insurers. Company’s facilities and vehicles must comply with Health Authorities’ safety recommendations and follow best-in-class cleaning standards and protocols. On return from a customer, vehicles should be cleaned to a very high standard and then sealed until being delivered to the next customer. And delivery drivers must wear personal protective equipment to give the customer receiving the vehicle reassurance that the risk of infection is limited.

As the next stage of the pandemic arrives, with new restrictions being placed on social interaction and a new public education campaign, there is a dual challenge of keeping people safe, while ensuring the UK economy can continue to recover. Providing people with the support they need for their mobility is integral to achieving that goal and the insurance sector, in partnership with a supply chain that is properly managed and audited, can play a crucial role.

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