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

According to a fleet insurance specialist, this change has not been brought about by any amendments to legislation but can be linked to the rising cost of vehicle parts and repairs.

The difficulty in obtaining certain vehicle parts post-Brexit has driven the price of some parts up, while overall labour shortages have meant that repair costs have also been impacted by inflation.

Furthermore, McCarron Coates stated that the increasing complexity of repairs is also contributing to their rising price. With so many components being electronic and interlocked, it’s becoming more and more likely that any accident with reasonable impact will mean that multiple parts of a vehicle will need to be replaced.

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

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

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

Commenting on the rising cost of repairs, Ian McCarron, director at McCarron Coates said ‘“Operators need 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 of the repair shop.’

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

Insurance brokers have advised fleet management to increase their focus on enhanced driver training and analysis of individual drivers’ weak points. It is hoped that this extra attention should reduce the chances of accidents, especially those which could land the vehicle in a lengthy repair cycle.

Moving forward, it seems that it will be essential for fleet operators to focus on instilling a better driving culture throughout their business, and to emphasise the importance of trying to keep the vehicle, the driver and all third parties as safe as possible at all times.