Monitor drivers to get on the road to lower insurance costs

Willis Towers Watson Networks Members all understand that commercial motor insurance clients have two core needs – keeping their vehicles and drivers on the road earning money for the business, and ensuring premiums stay as low as possible. To achieve these goals, it is important that all employees behind the wheel demonstrate good driving practice when out on the road. It is also imperative that their health conditions are known and monitored.

It is usually easier to stay abreast of an employee’s physical health conditions, as these are generally talked about more openly by those suffering them. Mental health issues are not as obvious, yet they are extremely common. One-in-four people in the UK has been diagnosed with a mental illness, two in every 100 people are bipolar and 70 million workdays are lost to mental illness annually. Mental health is something that fleet managers must stay on top of, as the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) must be advised of drivers’ mental health issues, as well as their physical health conditions. Fleet managers are often very aware of the need to notify the DVLA of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, but there are also many mental health conditions of which the DVLA also needs to be aware.

These include agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, anorexia (if it is affecting the sufferer’s driving), paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disease and both Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Not knowing the rules about reporting such mental health issues can be costly. Failure to notify the DVLA of any condition on their ‘notification required’ list could result in a fine of £1000 and possibly invalidate a motor insurance policy. Should an accident occur due to the undeclared condition, a criminal prosecution could also result. Taking the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach is how to tackle this. All notifiable conditions – and those that do not need to be notified – can be found at https://www.gov.uk/driving-medical-conditions, and checking up takes just a few minutes.

Whilst medical and mental health conditions can affect a driver’s capacity to drive safely, their on-the-road behaviour can also directly influence the insurance costs that you pay, with high-risk driving usually heading only one way – to an accident at some point in the future. One bad habit that many drivers have adopted is that of tailgating, which costs lives and loses licences. Only a third of motorists are aware that this is a driving offence that can result in a £100 fine and three penalty points if caught – a punishment that reflects the fact that one-in-eight accidents on motorways and major UK roads are due to this tailgating. Tragically, over 100 people a year are killed or seriously injured because of this form of bad driving, which leaves insufficient room for braking and collision avoidance.

A new Highways England campaign called ‘Don’t be a Space Invader’, is putting tailgating in the spotlight. Make sure your drivers are not driving in such a high-risk way that could lead to loss of life, or which is likely to harm your claims record, thus having a direct impact on the insurance costs you will pay. If you need tools to understand your drivers’ on-the-road behaviours better, please get in touch.