Creating An Accident Management Program for Fleets

It is an unfortunate reality that when you are involved in the management of a working fleet, accidents are going to happen. While you can limit the potential for accidents, there is no way you can outright remove the possibility entirely.

As a result, it is important for companies who operate fleets to look at creating an accident management program that can assist them when the inevitable happens. Without such a plan, when an accident occurs, a business can find itself scrambling to cope with this unexpected — and very unwanted — development. A rigorous plan of action that can be implemented as soon as an accident occurs helps to avoid confusion, and ensure that the next steps of the management process are controlled as well as possible.

There are three main aspects of a complete, reliable accident management program for fleets. Read on for an overview of these three components, and how they can included in an accident management strategy that is genuinely beneficial to every business with a fleet.

#1 – Processing the First Notice of Loss (FNOL)
FNOL is — as the name implies — the first step for any accident management program to deal with.

An FNOL should be issued to a fleet’s insurance provider in the event of the accident. If you outsource your fleet management, then this can be completed by your fleet management company; if not, you will have to file the FNOL yourself.

One of the key aspects of producing a good FNOL is obtaining the details of the accident as soon as possible, preferably while it is fresh in the driver’s mind. You may wish to consider leaving instructional details in each company vehicle, along with materials that allow for the circumstances of the accident to be recorded. With the information gathered, all drivers should then be expected to report the circumstances of the accident to the company, who can then set the wheels in motion regarding the FNOL.

#2 – Obtaining financial returns during the Loss Recovery procedure
The loss recovery process — which is known as subrogation — is the next important consideration for any accident management program. When the FNOL has been relayed by the driver to the company, the subrogation process begins. This process focuses on ensuring that the best financial return is recovered from the insurance provider, which helps to mitigate the costs that the fleet will incur due to the accident.

One of the important components of subrogation is the obtaining of a police report regarding the accident. The police report will help to establish the level of insurance coverage for each party, as well as its necessary role in the insurance claim process. When this information has been gathered, a claim to the insurance can be made.

The subrogation process is the same regardless of the fault involved in the accident. A good accident management program should allow for a degree of flexibility, so that similar techniques can be used during this process for both own-driver fault and third-party fault claims.

Finally, another aspect of the subrogation process is obtaining assessments from independent experts as to the potential cost of repairs.

A good accident management program should be able to process all of the above in the quickest and simplest way possible, with a sound underlying methodology that allows each task to naturally lead into the next.

#3 – The repair process
The third step of an accident management program should cover the repair of the vehicle. This should include options for transporting the vehicle for a repair — including choices for vehicles that can be driven, and vehicles that will need to be towed — and the obtaining of repair estimates from the repair shop.

The repair phase should also involve discussions as to finding the best repair solutions for the lowest possible cost, and the recording of this process for insurance purposes. There should also be a provision for how the driver should manage without their vehicle during the repair process; for example, the process for hiring a replacement vehicle while the primary vehicle is repaired should be included.

Finally, this part of the process should also involve documenting the costs involved in the above, as these may be recoverable from the insurance company.

Additional thoughts

Finally, it is important to note that no accident management program is complete without a focus on accident prevention. By behaving proactively in regards to safety requirements and continued driver evaluation, the need for an accident management program can be reduced. Of course, even with the best prevention methods there is always the scope for issues, but a reduction in the occurrence of accidents should be a primary focus for all fleet companies.

In essence, a good accident management program for fleets seeks to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If the worst does happen, then the fact that there is a reliable, configured process already established helps to reduce the inconvenience of the accident and return the fleet to normal operations as soon as possible.