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Blog: The flattening of rush hour – are replacement vehicle services adapting to the changing patterns of road usage post Covid-19?

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With the advent of the Covid-19 lockdown, commuters worked from home and schools were closed, traffic numbers fell to levels not seen in decades and the traditional rush hours disappeared. James Roberts, insurance business development director at Europcar Mobility Group UK, explains how motor insurance providers can support their customers during the pandemic and ensure their partners have the right infrastructure in place.

More recently – and before the latest swathe of local lockdowns – reports suggested that traffic on our roads had returned to near pre-pandemic levels. However, the rush-hour patterns seem to have changed. And that is giving insurers some new challenges, particularly when it comes to the customer experience immediately following an accident.

Recent analysis by the RAC showed that the traditional rush hour period has shifted, now more commonly comprising parents dropping off and picking up children from school and nursery rather than commuters heading to and from the office. And while those hours might seem, on the surface, not to be particularly different the reality is that a different set of pressures come into play as soon as a parent doesn’t have access to their vehicle.

Another factor is the significant increase in the volume of light commercial vehicles on the road as home delivery has become the norm for so many. When combined with an emerging issue about driver confidence, the likelihood of increased accident levels is high.

The AA recently reported that 3.6 million drivers felt more nervous about driving than before lockdown. Add in the clock change factor, combined with winter weather – darker evenings and more difficult driving conditions are a potent cocktail for increased claims as data from telematics insurance provider, insurethebox, recently underlined. Its analysis of 2019 claims at clock change show a 14% increase in accidents between October and November across the UK, rising to a 31% increase during the 5pm to 8pm evening rush hour.

For motor insurance providers the change in conditions, as well as the new dynamic impacting driving patterns means that an increased number of policyholders could need help ‘out of hours’. For those customers that need to get a replacement vehicle quickly, insurers need to be confident that their partners have the infrastructure in place to deal with demand.

First of all there’s the issue of accessibility. How much of a vehicle replacement provider’s network is open 24/7? And does this network provide comprehensive coverage for an insurer’s customer base? 

It’s also important to think about what services are available to get the customer moving as quickly as possible – even if a replacement vehicle can’t be supplied at the immediate point of need. Having access to ride-hailing services to get policyholders to a local branch to pick up a vehicle, or just back home, is a great added value from a service provider and is bound to make a positive difference to the customer experience overall, adding to that all-important customer satisfaction rating for the insurer brand.

Customer satisfaction, as well as meeting contractual obligations is always front of mind for insurers and having a strong working partnership with a mobility solutions supplier who can cover all bases is more likely to mean a happy policyholder. So as car usage changes – and along with that the timings of accidents – insurers with a clear focus on brand loyalty would do well to review all the partners in their replacement vehicle supply chain.

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