routeone speaks with suppliers to see what insurance, leasing and financial services they can provide to coach and bus operators
In these turbulent times, using coach and bus finance and insurance specialists has never been more important.
Gauntlet is marshalling 26 years of expertise to make its personal service a means through which to deliver tailored client approaches and, above all, listen to stories of their COVID-19 journeys.
The independently–owned broker has access to key coach and bus insurers and enjoys excellent underwriter relationships. With strong buying power and a strengthened relationship with global broker, Willis Towers Watson, it says it is well placed to find operators the right insurance.
Presentation of a risk to an insurer is key, which is where Gauntlet delivers client value, in a market where insurers need to trust their risk ‘interpreter’. Gauntlet’s representation assists premium setting and influences the policy terms offered. Having long-established claims procedures in place matters to insurers, as does a good picture of whether operators have cameras, offer driver accident awareness training and report accidents quickly.
The Wrightsure Group has been at the heart of passenger transport since 1975, providing insurance services and supported by in-house risk management and claims handling. “We ensure that the challenges facing the passenger transport industry can be fully considered and the right product found every time, such is the Group’s relations with all key stakeholders,” the company says.
Wrightsure says the passenger transport sector should view its insurance broker as a pivotal advisor to its business, not just as a portal to cheaper insurance. “We consider market initiatives and have a wealth of knowledge in technology, telematics and claims mitigation… it is this level of understanding that sets passenger transport specialists apart,” it adds.
Wrightsure continues its development of new facilities and insurance product initiatives, and particularly for those in the coach holiday market, in-house access to passenger travel insurance and tour operators’ liability.
Bonding and financial failure schemes are also within its remit, extending to merchant service provider indemnities and, as some of the industry considers a shift to trust accounts, new facilities to provide critical repatriation and ancillary accommodation for customers.
“We are immensely proud of the high level of support that the Group has provided through the pandemic…it is after all, a ‘people’ business we are all engaged in,” adds Wrightsure.
“examples of how we can tailor agreements include deferment of VAT, balloon payments to reduce monthly repayments or seasonal payment profiles to reflect the businesses income streams”
Mike Austin of finance broker Crystal Business Finance brings over 30 years of expertise from the world of coach and bus funding. He believes due diligence must be the core of future business: With coach and bus marked as a ‘heavily impacted industry’, simply finding a funder will be the first hurdle for many.
With a multitude of brokers working across all sectors of UK finance, he warns some won’t have the necessary understanding of the industry, which could open up risks down the line.
“You would also want a broker who has been in the industry for considerable time,” Mike adds. “Brokering is not just about placing deals – it’s how you deal with that deal going forward. Good brokers take time to know an operator’s business. In return, operators should show they are in control of their business, and that relevant financial information is up to date.”
Propel Finance provides hire-purchase, finance lease and refinance agreements for new and used coaches, buses, minibuses and related equipment, such as vehicle lifts and brake testers. Propel says it has a keen appetite to support the industry and understand the challenges faced by operators.
“Our intention is to build long standing relationships with our clients, offering flexible and competitive finance terms,” says Head of Product and Specialisms, Matt Jones. “We have a market leading proposition for coach and bus operators, and we are committed to providing every customer with exceptional and personal assistance to ensure great speed of service.”
Propel has over 25 years of providing asset finance to UK businesses, and currently supports over 40,000 customers. It has two dedicated coach and bus finance specialists: Chris Rich and Scott Burke, who both have vast experience helping operators obtain the finance they need.
“We place emphasis on relationships – taking the time to understand our customers and their business goals and objectives, coupled with our in-house funding capabilities and access to a panel of specialist lenders,” adds Matt. “We then provide the best deal tailored to the customer. Some examples of how we can tailor agreements include deferment of VAT, balloon payments to reduce monthly repayments or seasonal payment profiles to reflect the businesses income streams.”
During the pandemic, Propel has supported many businesses in the coach and bus sector to arrange payment breaks on existing finance agreements; some of which have already returned for new business and complimented the support. “We value the level of trust shown from our customers; and believe this is vital as we head out of the pandemic. It’s important for us to provide a balanced view due to the challenges operators have faced; thus potentially enabling us to attract more supportive responses,” Matt adds
Finance offerings for workshop solutions can assist operators when it comes to bringing important vehicle maintenance in-house.
Totalkare offers solutions on its workshop equipment from short- to medium-term hire (starting from six months onwards) as well as contract hire packages that cover parts and maintenance, and a lease purchase package.
Totalkare Area Sales Manager Adam Bowser says bespoke packages can be arranged, but that there can be a lack of awareness that financing offers exist. “We’re often asked if commercial garage equipment can be financed,” he says. “And yes, it can. There are multiple solutions available, for everything from pits to brake testing equipment.”
Adam reveals there has been a growth in desire for workshop equipment in recent years, with particular focus on in-house brake testers following legislative changes and lifting equipment among operators with tri-axle vehicles and growing fleets. “We’re also selling more headlight testers, smoke and emissions kits and more ancillary type items to existing customers. There’s a great deal of money to be saved by avoiding the costs of outsourcing vehicle maintenance.”
While Totalkare has access to its own finance broker, the company is happy to work with customers’ own brokers to finalise any arrangements.