Make 2024 the Year of the Camera, says McCarron Coates

Bus and coach industry insurance broker, McCarron Coates, is suggesting 2024 becomes the Year of the Camera in our sector.

The Leeds-based fleet insurance specialist says it can be extremely advantageous, from an insurance cost-saving and claims avoidance point of view, for all fleet operations to adopt First Notification of Risk strategies, as well as First Notification of Loss. This means investing in both outward-facing cameras and driver-facing cameras that combine machine vision with AI capabilities, it claims. These can create audible signal, to alert a driver to risks before any impacts are experienced. Cameras can alert drivers of risks ‘in the moment’, whether those are on the road or because a driver is doing something that could prove a distraction (using a mobile phone, eating, smoking or falling asleep).

By investing in such cameras, a fleet operator could cut their cost per claim and dramatically reduce claims severity, McCarron Coates advises. One 72-vehicle client that the broker has assisted cut its cost per claim from over £9,000 to just £200 by adopting FNOR strategies over a 14-month period. The reward, from the insurer, was premium stability, rather than a £2000 per vehicle rise in premium that had been predicted after the insurer’s first three months’ claims experience.

In addition, McCarron Coates highlights how fleet operators need to be progressing their in-cab security systems so cameras and telematics are no longer siloed security systems, but working together, providing an optimised crash narrative. Their evidence bank needs to be thorough and irrefutable, at a time when rises in insurance fraud are making insurers keener to have all the evidence in front of them, before agreeing to any liability.

McCarron Coates says cameras are now also imperative because of the legislative framework in which commercial drivers are operating. Making this the Year of the Cameras is vital within a sector that is facing an increasing threat from theft of both vehicles and goods but also from those seeking to benefit from crash for cash scenarios.

Liability framework

McCarron Coates says the January 2022 edition of the Highway Code, which introduced a new Hierarchy of Road Users with pedestrians and cyclists at the top, has established a liability framework. Any incident involving an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist is likely to have bigger consequences for a driver, especially since the June 2022 introduction of the motoring offence of ‘Causing Serious Injury by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving. This latest piece of legislation is so significant for fleet drivers that McCarron Coates launched its RTC Crisis Line service in 2023, which is offered to all of its fleet clients. This provides them with the legal support of a lawyer and fleet transport sector specialist, the minute the incident involves the police, both at the roadside and, in person at a police station, if things are taken further.

Notably, the sentencing guidelines for this legislation list the vulnerability of the person or persons involved in the accident as an ‘aggravating factor’ that should be taken into consideration. Cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and motorcyclists are deemed ‘vulnerable’ road users, in this mention of aggravating factors. Another aggravating factor is ‘driving for commercial purposes’ and another is ‘driving a LGV, HGV or PSV, etc’. With this in mind, the broker further suggests fitting cameras, creating 360º vision around their vehicle and eliminating any blind spots.

With video footage able to be sent to an insurer almost instantly, the installation of cameras can also assist with the all-essential fast reporting of an incident that helps speed up the first notification of loss (FNOL) process and keep claims costs under control. Furthermore, camera installation can improve driving behaviours and, especially when married up with telematics, to pinpoint where particular drivers require additional help and training.

“2024 is the year in which every fleet needs to become less camera shy and recognise that an investment in cameras that can be multi-purpose and collect evidence from both outside the vehicle and inside it, is now highly advisable” – McCarron Coates director, Ian McCarron

McCarron Coates director, Ian McCarron, said: “Cameras have often been treated as a luxury, or fitted only when a fleet has been forced to comply with legislation. Those fleets who do have cameras may not have them serviced regularly or actually switched on, at times. 2024 is the year in which every fleet needs to become less camera shy and recognise that an investment in cameras that can be multi-purpose and collect evidence from both outside the vehicle and inside it, is now highly advisable. It is more or less essential, if a fleet wishes to dramatically improve its risk, cut the incidence and cost of claims significantly, and avoid legal issues and potential driver disqualification and imprisonment, for just a careless or inconsiderate moment of driving.

“Fleets are operating in a tough environment and need to wise up to what is available to support their case. While telematics can present some of the evidence, camera footage completes the picture and is the most important witness a driver can have to call upon. There are now so many reasons for needing this visual support that we would urge any fleet operator to take action on this right now and talk to us about how camera purchase costs can be recouped through reductions in insurance premiums and claims. These savings can quickly offset the investment.”

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