Opinion: Outsourcing Accident Management
By Luann Dunkerley
Truck & Service Fleets
CEI Group Inc.
This Opinion piece appears in the April 16 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
In 2009, the latest year for which data are available, accidents cost truck fleets and owner-operators $48 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The figure is a stunning 9% of the industry’s gross freight revenue of $544.4 billion for that year.
And because accident costs come straight off the bottom line, that number represented an even bigger hit to fleet profitability.
With so much at stake, the industry has been investing a huge amount of money, time and energy trying to reduce its accident rate. The efforts, which continue to show positive results, involve equipping trucks with more safety technology and a sharper focus on driver accountability and safety training.
But there’s another way that fleets can bring down the cost of accidents: outsourcing their accident management activities, including collision repairs, securing rental replacement vehicles, and subrogation — the pursuit of the recovery collision expenses from third-party drivers responsible for accidents with their vehicles.
For years, fleets have outsourced any number of services, from routine maintenance to information technology services to recruiting and hiring. But outsourcing a fleet’s entire accident management program is an idea that is just beginning to get noticed in the trucking world. The benefits can be great, both in reducing the expenses associated with repairing damaged trucks and in making the entire company more efficient by leveraging the fleet management department’s time and getting vehicles back in service faster.
Here are the potential benefits an accident management services provider can bring to a trucking fleet:
• A managed network of high-quality collision repair shops. Truck accident management companies oversee a managed network of body repair shops with whom they have longstanding relationships and who meet quality performance standards. This is a major benefit when a fleet vehicle goes down far from a carrier’s home territory, where it doesn’t know who the good, reliable suppliers are.
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