Vehicle Wrecked? How to Get Back on the Road Faster

            

These days, it’s much harder to replace or repair vehicles – due to supply chain issues affecting new vehicle delivery, the higher cost of used vehicles, and limited availability of replacement parts. But to survive and thrive, your business must have a fleet of vehicles on the road. When one of your vehicles is damaged in an accident, you face more challenges than ever in repairs and replacement.

In this new landscape, you need to gather solid information, make educated decisions, and act fast. That’s pretty intimidating when your expertise is not in the car or truck industry! That’s why so many companies choose to work with an experienced, consultative partner with expertise in accident management.

To learn about handling these tough challenges successfully, we asked some our experts at Fleet Response, and part of the reason we are a respected industry leader in accident management. Stuart Braun is Adjustor and Maintenance Manager, and James Ruffing is Client Engagement Coordinator. They help clients with a wide range of vehicles in their business fleets, from standard passenger vehicles to medium and heavy-duty trucks, cargo vans, and commercial vehicles with specialty equipment and upfits.

AFTER AN ACCIDENT, EDUCATED DECISIONS MATTER

The two main options after an accident are to repair or replace. That decision can have major consequences for a business, especially with recent challenges in finding parts or with extended delivery times on new vehicles.

“It’s a very unique situation in the industry right now,” says Ruffing. “When we look at valuations on a damaged vehicle, we know that new vehicles are more expensive and take longer to deliver. Parts for repairs can be harder to source, but we have a data base showing us accurate availability, with the same information that repair shops have. All that plays a role when we determine repairability of a vehicle that may have previously been considered a total loss. We are very mindful of these values and direct our clients based on that information.”

A team of expert adjustors at Fleet Response has years of experience in making educated decisions on whether to repair or salvage, based on the return on investment for a client. Braun explains, “We’re subject matter experts at Fleet Response. We determine if it’s cost-effective or safe to repair a damaged vehicle. Then we work within parameters set by the client to make the best repair recommendation.”

THE NEED FOR SPEED: CRITICAL IN REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT

Once the Fleet Response claims team gets the estimate, one of nine adjustors will see that estimate within four hours. “That cycle time is a huge reason why clients choose to work with us,” says Braun. “A lawn service company might have a service truck out treating lawns and generating thousands of dollars a day in revenue. Do the math – that’s a tremendous amount of revenue to lose waiting on a repair. When we manage it, we get an estimate with 48 hours, make a repair recommendation on the same day, and can often turn around repairs within a week or so, based on scheduling and parts availability.”

ACCIDENT MANAGEMENT DONE RIGHT

For businesses that partner with Fleet Response for accident management, the benefits are robust:

-Fleet Response is available 24/7 to report initial loss due to an accident.

-If vehicle is not drivable, Fleet Response arranges for towing to one of 5,700 network vendors.

-If drivable, a network shop is assigned immediately, with repairs guaranteed for the life of the vehicle.

-Loss is reported to insurance carrier within 24 hours, especially critical if liability is involved.

-Photo of loss and preliminary estimate provided within 48 hours, much faster than the four or five days typical after many accidents.

“Repair or no repair” recommendation is made, based on actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle as determined by an expert team of I-CAR- trained adjusters, each with an average of 20 years’ experience often as body shop employees or owners. They understand how vehicles are constructed, how to make proper repairs, assess safety and determine total loss valuation.

CLIENT KNOWS IT ALL WITH “VISIBILITY” TOOL

It can be frustrating to be kept in the dark, not knowing what’s happening after a fleet vehicle is in the repair shop. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fleet Response created their VISIBILITY tool to allow clients to track real-time data points, including start date and repair process steps, along with expected date of completion so businesses can forecast vehicle downtime.

“At Fleet Response, we have proactive, regular touchpoints to keep clients up to speed on the repair process,” says Ruffing. “Clients sign a services agreement with us to manage their repairs, but we treat it as a partnership. We are an extension of the client’s team and work as consultants to get their revenue-generating asset out of the shop and back on the road quickly.”

FLEET RESPONSE GOAL: PROTECT YOUR VEHICLE INVESTMENT

Most businesses are not experts in the auto and truck industry. Fleet Response proactively works to mitigate the client’s expense after an accident.

“Most of our clients are self-insured, so they are spending their own money,” says Braun. “Our team gets the client a solid estimate figure so they can forecast their spend and make an educated business decision on repair or no repair. For example, if you’re dealing with a well-equipped, $50,000 service truck, we help you decide if it makes sense to repair it and keep it in service where it’s making you money – or should you wait up to six months to get a new one? We help clients make an educated decision.” 

WHY COMBINE ACCIDENT MANAGEMENT + VEHICLE MAINTENANCE? 

Every business with a vehicle fleet knows you need both sides covered – preventive maintenance and accident management. But few partners handle both with a proactive, integrated approach.

“Partnering with Fleet Response for both the accident and maintenance programs gives a wholistic view on everything about a vehicle,” says Ruffing. “Clients get immediate real-time access to both collision history and the maintenance data. A business could choose to do it piecemeal, but when it’s all managed by Fleet Response, it’s a one stop shop. All your vehicle data is here, allowing you to track every time that vehicle’s been touched.”

“THAT’S WHAT WE LIKE ABOUT YOU”

By far, Fleet Response clients say they are most impressed with the expertise and consultative approach. For many, it’s unexpected in the world of accident management.

“The biggest misconception new clients have is that we are bill payers, merely processing paperwork,” says Braun. “But we are very consultative. We are subject matter experts. Our job is to mitigate the client’s collision expense and return it to the condition it was in before at a fair price. That’s what we are known and respected for in the industry. My team constantly gets emails thanking us, saying how great our adjustors are, how we gave them options, made them feel good about our recommendation and saved them money because of our expertise and advice.”

As industry trends change day to day, Ruffing points out how important it is for businesses to partner with industry experts like Fleet Response who can make the right recommendations on keeping or disposing of their assets.

“Clients trust us for guidance on putting safe vehicles back on the road. When a client disagrees with our judgement, we always do our best to give proper guidance. You never want to repair a vehicle with a safety issue and have it involved in another collision or possibly injure or kill the driver or a bystander. Then you have a different problem on your hands. We provide the data, the facts, and the support for our recommendations and with the VISIBILITY tool, we make it all available to clients.”