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Insurance considerations for your fleet in a period of increased demand

Insurance considerations for your fleet in a period of increased demand

Home delivery and delivery to essential businesses is one area which is experiencing huge growth in the light of the current conditions with many retail businesses forced to close their doors to customers and rely on delivery instead. If you are running a haulage or courier business at the moment, you are likely to be one of a number of business types to be experiencing a growth in demand.

The supply chain network is deemed so crucial at this time that the government has temporarily relaxed the Driver’s hours rules for deliveries to essential businesses and consumers in an attempt to enable couriers and hauliers to keep up with the increased demand. The links above take you to the relevant information and criteria for this on the gov.uk website.

So, how can you keep up with the increased demand whilst making sure you are keeping your staff and customers safe?

Despite the relaxation of rules around driver hour’s, it is still the duty of the employer to manage the risks associated with driver fatigue. Employers are still responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users and that they must ensure that driver safety is not compromised by expecting them to drive whilst tired.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued guidance on managing the risks of fatigue and this includes information relating to good practice on the length of shifts, including stating that employers should avoid shifts longer than 8 hours for demanding work. Where work is safety critical or where tasks are monotonous, shifts should be limited to a maximum of 12 hours (including overtime). It further advises that employers should encourage and promote the benefit of frequent and regular breaks to reduce the risk of fatigue.

Insurance considerations

From an employer’s liability and public liability perspective, it is important that you continue to work with good practice around Health and Safety, with particular emphasis on managing driver fatigue.

From a fleet insurance perspective, it is important to make sure that you have adequate cover for all the vehicles which you have in use at any time. If you have temporarily deployed more vehicles or drivers to meet an increased demand, make sure your fleet policy is providing the level of cover you need to cover that. Generally, fleet insurance is provided on an “as and when” basis. The means that you need to advise your broker or insurance provider “as and when you add or remove vehicles”. This enables those vehicles to be added or deleted from your policy and the MID updated.

Failure to do this means that you are running the risk of vehicles which are in use not being insured.

With regard to driver hours and your fleet cover, the usual basis for cover is “if your business is being run legally in respect of driver hours, then the drivers must drive within those legal hours”. It is uncommon to find a policy that limits either a) mileage per vehicle under a fleet or b) hours that a vehicle can be used. It is a good idea to check your policy though, to be sure.

Finally, it goes without saying that it is your duty of care to ensure that you are doing everything you can to keep your drivers, your customers and consumers safe. In the current conditions this means that you need to make sure that drivers are observing good hygiene practices (consideration should be given in particular to hand hygiene and how that can be managed on the road) and observing the social distancing requirements. In order to protect yourself from future liability claims, be sure to detail the specific measures you have taken in an updated Health & Safety Policy and make sure all of your drivers are aware of your updated policy and any new safety requirements.

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