Accident Management forMedium-Size Fleets

March 8, 2011
Trained estimators play a big role in follow-up decisions.

Based on results within Enterprise Fleet Management's customer base, in a typical fleet, 20% of the drivers will be involved in some type of loss in any given year. Whether the damage is a cracked windshield or the vehicle is a total loss, it’s important not to learn by “accident” that what initially seems like “low cost claims management” may not actually be low cost. In the long run, it could end up costing a lot more with more expensive repair bills, longer downtime while the vehicle is out of service, and lower resale value if not repaired to the highest quality standards.

Properly managing accident costs is more likely to happen when working with a fleet management company whose repair team has completed technical training courses in collision repair. Such programs are offered by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR). A not-for-profit international training organization dedicated to improving the quality, safety and efficiency of auto collision repair, I-CAR provides training in estimating, as well as various technical aspects of collision repair.

Getting the most satisfaction when a claim is settled begins with the initial estimate. Estimators who have completed I-CAR training are skilled at inspecting and analyzing collision damaged vehicles, and are well prepared to provide the most comprehensive repair plan, to ensure the highest quality service at the lowest possible price.

Often, when the I-CAR trained estimator is part of the customer’s professional fleet management team, a decision may be made not to fix a vehicle. With access to all information about the customer’s fleet, determining factors can include everything from how much money is still owed on the lease, to the vehicle’s resale value, as well as the length of downtime and cost of renting a temporary replacement vehicle. When the decision is made to repair a vehicle, knowing that all of the work is necessary and will be done correctly also depends on having the best possible relationship with the collision repair center. This includes:

  • monitoring repairs on a regular basis,
  • keeping the customer apprised of hidden damages discovered
  • documenting the work is being done on the vehicle, especially additional repairs that may affect the final cost and/or length of downtime.

Freedom from Details
Working with collision repair professionals who are part of a fleet management company can also have other advantages for business owners. For example, the fleet management company may pay all repair expenses directly to the repair center and bill the customer as part of the lease agreement. This relieves the business owner from needing to track and monitor repair invoices or issuing checks to reimburse drivers for any repair expenses paid by them personally. In addition, the fleet management company can maintain any loss history reports with details of all aspects of any claims.

Managing vehicle accidents is a complicated business that requires experience and expertise to ensure timely handling of claims and quality vehicle repairs at the lowest possible cost. For businesses with medium-size fleets, the best advice is to partner with a fleet management company that can handle claims with minimal driver involvement; provide one-call service with a dedicated claims adjuster; locate repair facilities anywhere nationwide; handle all payment terms for repaired vehicles; easily arrange replacement vehicles; and dispose of totaled vehicles timely and efficiently.

The bottom line, as always, is to get drivers back on the road as quickly as possible.

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Connie Albright is Assistant Vice President, Loss Control Department, National Claims and Compliance for Enterprise Fleet Management. Enterprise Fleet Management, a full-service fleet management company for businesses with mid-size fleets, is an affiliate of Enterprise Holdings Inc.