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How best to deal with accidents? Good claims management

Murphy’s Law dictates: what can happen – will happen. And accidents are bound to happen, no matter what. Costs can quickly escalate. Claims management that simplifies internal communication processes and aids the fleet manager to initiate and coordinate subsequent processes is essential.

In the long run, it is efficient claims management that prevents unnecessary costs, both immediate and consequential ones. In addition, good claims management when exercised preventively ensures greater safety to the fleet. But how do corporate fleets safeguard smooth claims management and what steps are needed to achieve this? Let us explain what to do in the event of an accident.

Step 1 – Claims assessment

After the well-being of all parties involved has been ascertained following an accident, damages can then be recorded. This initial assessment is done on site by the driver and should be made in writing so that the insurance company can later make an accurate estimate of the costs.

Carrying out a comprehensive damage assessment is often not easy due to the exceptional nature of the circumstance. This is where a claims app come into play. With its help, the driver summons aid simply by pressing an emergency call button, reports the accident to the fleet manager, calls up an emergency checklist and takes pictures of the accident site and the damages incurred. These apps facilitate initial on-site assessment while providing important documentation for claims processing by the fleet manager and the insurance company. In addition to such apps, regular safety instructions are important to ensure appropriate behavior is taken and drivers are reminded of the importance of good documentation.

Step 2 – Reporting a claim to the insurance company

The information collected serves as the basis for reporting a claim to the insurance company. This can be done in writing, over the phone or digitally. Ever more insurance companies are offering online forms or apps in which photos may be uploaded and information about the accident provided. This facilitates quick claims reporting. Once the insurance company has received and processed the claim, coverage verification and such are carried out; in some cases, claims adjusters are called in.

man and woman inspecting a car

Step 3 – Organizing the repair order

Once the insurance company assumes coverage of the damage, repair of the vehicle needs to be organized. This can be done by the fleet manager or an external agency. This step is critical as repair delays are not uncommon. For this reason, it is essential to have the widest possible network of partners at your disposal before an accident ever occurs. If the employee is reliant on a company car, a replacement for the duration of the repair needs to be provided. It works to great advantage if the vehicle is part of a pool, as the driver will have immediate access to other vehicles.

Step 4 – Damage evaluation

Efficient claims management means responsibilities are clarified beforehand and claims processed internally and quickly. Controlling, in particular, plays an important role here. Evaluation of claims costs and impact on the overall value of the vehicle (particularly relevant in the case of leased vehicles) are just two of many aspects that need to be scrutinized after a claim has been reported. In addition, it is advisable to analyze anomalies, damage-type clusters and timing of accidents so that the fleet manager may respond accordingly – whether it be improved safety equipment, like rear-view cameras, or enhanced training for drivers.

How optimal procurement can simplify claims management

Forewarned is forearmed, and that also applies to efficient claims management. Fleet managers should factor in risk management when procuring company cars. This also means vehicles need to be up to the latest standard in technical and safety-related aspects.

Moreover, regular training in driving techniques, compliance with superior respondeat liability obligations through driver’s license checks and accident prevention instruction, as well as a bonus system that rewards accident-free driving help to keep incidence rates down.

Claim management

Example of a scheduling tool for claims processing

How digital solutions support efficient claims management

Digitalization has long been an integral part of fleets and supports those responsible for streamlining communication processes, thereby saving time and money down the years. Especially in claims management, digital solutions help speed up processing time. Moreover, software allows for archiving of documents relevant to damage claims, e.g., photos, repair releases and adjuster reports.

Comprehensive reporting is time-consuming and a major cost factor, especially in large fleet management. Software solutions that keep constant track of vehicle costs, evaluate damage and remind drivers of safety-relevant dates like accident prevention classes and driver’s license checks provide great savings in the long run.

What are the advantages of outsourcing claims management?

Many fleets hire external agencies to handle claims, thus freeing fleet managers up to do other matters. Though it is important to consider outsourcing carefully as there are so many providers out there.

Checklist to determine the best external claims management providers:

  • Service hours and hotlines
  • Help with claims abroad
  • Service packages, e.g., communication with auto workshops, fast procurement of replacement vehicles
  • Reporting options
  • How much time is the fleet manager required to invest?

Whether a leasing provider, fleet company or car insurance company that assumes the claims handling, it is ultimately up to the decision maker. Careful examination of internal capacities before outsourcing claims management is essential.

Small fleets, in particular, where the staff is tasked with various jobs, will benefit from outsourcing. By relieving them of the workload, they can devote themselves to other fleet-related issues. Especially when it comes to legal expertise, fleet managers should not be hesitate to call in specialists to handle claims in order to assess and minimize possible later legal costs.

Bottom line:

Accidents happen and as long as it does not lead to serious health consequences, it is usually quite manageable. However, with preventive measures, the support of a digital solution, and precise evaluation, complex internal processes and their resulting expenditure can be easily handled. Those intending to outsource claims management completely have a wide range of choices. This step though should be carefully considered and organized.