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April 03 2019

Removing the insurance ‘shackles’

Getting younger drivers insured is an age-old problem. Some even face being uninsurable. Bear in mind this is simply on a first car, something which will cost a fraction of the price of a new coach or bus.

Should operators be left to ‘police’ the drivers they hand the keys to?

So, if insurers struggle to trust an under-25-year-old in a ‘basic’ car bought for three figures, how can operators expect to get a younger generation of drivers into the industry behind the wheel of a six-figure vehicle?

The question lies: Can insurers help with the driver shortage issue?

Was it a myth?

Listening to its readers, and the industry as a whole, routeone investigated operators’ views on the driver shortage issue [routeone/Big Story/13 March].

It contacted 69 operators, large and small, from both the coach and bus industry with the aim of finding out if all operators were sharing the same experience and challenges.

Overall, feedback shows that operators are all in the same the boat. Driver shortage is a big problem and the industry and its suppliers need to come together to find a solution.

Can insurers help?

One question routeone asked operators was: Do you think the industry or government can do anything to help with the driver shortage?

Terry McIntyre, Director of Hoddesdon-based Golden Boy Coaches, is one operator who raised the subject of insurance.

“I am not exactly sure what the industry or government can do to help the driver shortage, however, I do have strong feelings on what insurance companies could do to help, particularly in relation to younger drivers,” he says.

“After 22 years with the same insurance provider, where difficult operational restrictions were imposed by the insurer on drivers under 25-years of age, and for those with less than two years’ experience, we changed provider in December 2018.”

Change was needed

The firm, Mr McIntyre explains, changed to an insurer where no age restrictions are applied. And it is already making driver recruitment easier for Golden Boy as it is no longer “hitting the frustrating obstacles” in the early stages of trying to employ what it sees as suitable younger candidates.  

“While I understand that the insurance industry actually ‘takes the risk’ and bases its terms from statistics, I do feel that operators should be allowed to police the situation to some extent,” he adds.

“I am sure that not many of us would allocate one of our vehicles worth in the region of £350,000-400,000 to a driver that we didn’t have confidence in. 

“It’s a difficult one, but we certainly feel like the shackles have been taken off since we’ve had the young driver restrictions lifted.”

Busting the myths

Darren Curd, Associate Director at Wrightsure, says that being unable to recruit young drivers is “somewhat of a misnomer – to us here at Wrightsure, anyway.”

He explains that there are some insurers that “make our life a little bit more difficult than others” and one or two are still wanting to adopt a warranty of drivers being over 25, under 70 and with two years’ experience.

“But even if this does apply, an application to add a young or inexperienced driver with the right paperwork will have them added to the policy with an increased excess and/or restricted to lower value vehicles for a short time quite easily.”

Ultimately, Mr Curd says it’s not more difficult to get insurance for younger drivers, just an additional process we have to go through with the right information.

“It’s only difficult if an operator has an imbalance between their fleet size and the number of declared young drivers,” he says.

“Operators just need to ensure that their desired driver ‘warranty’ suits their business needs for the year ahead, and more crucially, choose an insurance broker that is a PSV specialist which understands the sector and has direct access to underwriters.”

Mr Curd adds that the industry is already changing its stance; there’s only a couple of insurers now that haven’t changed their policies. Most just give “any licenced driver” now or widened their warranty to [say] “any licenced driver over 21 and with one years’ experience”.

“It is the insurer that sets the policy, but ours is to get “any licenced driver” every time.”

How can Wrightsure help?

“Unfortunately, operators have an ingrained disposition towards price and so we can’t force them to insure via Wrightsure. However, with 40 years of specialising in passenger transport, all our staff are well versed in ensuring that operators get the cover they need.

“Indeed, some of our clients run training and academy programmes or have clauses on their policy to provide in house driver training.”

www.wrightsure.com




Try paying more. A decent wage to drivers would encourage new entrants to the industry. Yet Operators expect drivers to works for little more than the minimum wage. Without good drivers your businesses are worth nothing.
Christian Evans

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