The cost ofvehicle repairs and the cost of personal injury claims is shifting for thefirst time in years, according to McCarron Coates, with vehicle repair pricesnow outweighing injury claims.

Accordingto a fleet insurance specialist, this change has not been brought about by anyamendments to legislation but can be linked to the rising cost of vehicle partsand repairs.

Thedifficulty in obtaining certain vehicle parts post-Brexit has driven the priceof some parts up, while overall labour shortages have meant that repair costshave also been impacted by inflation.

Furthermore,McCarron Coates stated that the increasing complexity of repairs is alsocontributing to their rising price. With so many components being electronicand interlocked, it’s becoming more and more likely that any accident withreasonable impact will mean that multiple parts of a vehicle will need to bereplaced.

While thisis true of all vehicles, problems become further exacerbated when the vehicleinvolved in an incident is electric. Not only will damage to an electricvehicle’s battery result in a hefty bill but repairing an electric vehicletakes significantly longer than fixing one with an internal combustion engine.

Occasionally,hire vehicles are needed as a ‘stop-gap’ for owners whose electric vehiclesneed to go to a specialist repairs centre, which, again increases the price ofthe vehicles overall repair.

It isbelieved by McCarron Coates that some insurers are still unsure about how bestto calculate the right level of insurance premium for the electric vehicle risk.This uncertainty has led to extremely high compulsory excesses, with some fleetpolicies having a £1500 excess, rather than the more expected £500.

Commentingon the rising cost of repairs, Ian McCarron, director at McCarron Coates said ‘“Operatorsneed to make sure their fleet bucks the trend, by enhancing their risk management,addressing the reasons for accidents and trying to keep their vehicles out ofthe repair shop.’

Undertakinga more strategic approach should not only minimise the money spent on repairs,but should also increase operational efficiency within the business, and meanthat less time needs to be spent handling insurance claims.

Insurancebrokers have advised fleet management to increase their focus on enhanceddriver training and analysis of individual drivers’ weak points. It is hopedthat this extra attention should reduce the chances of accidents, especiallythose which could land the vehicle in a lengthy repair cycle.

Movingforward, it seems that it will be essential for fleet operators to focus oninstilling a better driving culture throughout their business, and to emphasisethe importance of trying to keep the vehicle, the driver and all third partiesas safe as possible at all times.