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Motor fleet insurance. What it is, and how to buy the best.

If you have a business that uses motor vehicles on the road, you're going to need to insure those vehicles. For the small business with only two or three cars, insuring each car individually might cost in, but a larger fleet will almost certainly need proper motor fleet insurance.

Those vehicles could include lorries, vans, taxis, ambulances, cars, and even mobile cranes or earth movers.

What is different about it?

The good news is that different types of vehicle can all be covered by a single policy. Many policies offer significant flexibility, allowing you to add vehicles or take them out of the fleet during the course of the year, which really helps if you're managing a large and complex fleet.

Unlike insurance for personal cars, motor fleet insurance doesn't offer no-claims discounts. Instead, claims are tallied up over time to estimate the level of risk, and the policy is priced accordingly. You can reduce the cost of your premium by maintaining your fleet properly, training your drivers well, and creating a good road safety culture within your business.

Picking the right policy
Choosing the right insurance will depend on how you use your vehicles. For instance, a plumbing or electrical maintenance business may want to consider insurance that covers tools and equipment kept in the van, as well as the fleet. Haulage insurance is intended for businesses running long distance services, while courier van insurance covers those making local drop-offs.

An 'any driver' policy can make managing your fleet much easier, since it will let any of your drivers take out any of your vehicles. However, it may mean you'll have to choose your drivers carefully to fit certain conditions, such as over 25 or 30 and with a clean licence.This can lead to personnel issues, which is why buying fleet insurance is usually handled by senior management.

Policy details to be aware of

Keep an eye out for exclusions. Some policies won't pay out if a vehicle that has been left unattended is stolen. If that's the case, make sure your drivers know!

On the other hand, many policies offer interesting extras. Breakdown cover, windscreen repairs, and medical cover for your drivers in the case of accidents, are all available, as is public liability cover.

Getting value for money

Insurers will generally take a hands-on approach to finding out what kind of risk your fleet represents. Check your drivers' records, particularly if you use agency drivers, and enforce safe driving practices, and you may be able to reduce your premium or get better coverage. Securing your parking area properly can also pay dividends when it comes to your insurance renewal.

Remember, too, that if you do have to make a claim, giving the insurance company the fullest details you can, as quickly as possible, will help them react quickly and get your vehicles and drivers back on the road.

If you're running a business, however tempting it might be to go for the cheapest policy, remember that your fleet utilisation has a huge impact on your profits. Choose the insurer that will get your fleet back to work most quickly, and that will cover your most valuable assets the best.
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