The South African commercial vehicle industry is firing on all cylinders. According to year-to-date results released by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), the transport industry contributed 275280.76 ZAR million to the country’s GDP in the second quarter of 2019.
While most economic indicators are down currently, increase in demand for transport and logistics services is clear in the significant growth posted year-on-year in the medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicle sales. Online shopping and local hub deliveries are two of the factors contributing towards this resilience in the transport sector.
This is also a sector facing escalating costs as a barrier to successful bottom-line results. The local industry, especially the small-to-mid-sized fleets which are predominantly owner-operated enterprises are forced, in difficult market conditions, to magnify their focus on scrutinizing every aspect of the operations.
One of the components of transportation costs and an essential risk mitigation factor for any trucking business is insurance, according to Sharon Paterson, Chief Executive of Infiniti Insurance, a leading short-term insurance company.
“However, with the right proactive and structured approach, with expert attention to detail, a company can minimise insurance costs, protect their asset base, enhance the safety of employees and benefit from as much coverage as is required,” Paterson points out.
Through its partnership with Heavy Commercial Vehicle Underwriting Managers (HCV) Infiniti has refined its tried and tested approach of deploying high technical expertise, strategically positioning key members of the team to allow them to focus resources on swift solutions. Together, Infiniti and HCV leverage from their combined strengths – guiding their actions and initiatives to where they best create value and stability for the insured.
Vanessa Correira of HCV takes up the story. “In a landscape filled with large fleets, HCV caters for small to medium transporters who have one or two vehicles and these are often owner-driven. We live our pay-off line – ‘caring for trucks and truckers’ – and we go beyond normal insurance parameters. Infiniti is an ideal partner for HCV. Both companies are client centric and focussed on service delivery.” she says.
“HCV’s policy holders are typically private, small-scale subcontractors who are extremely vulnerable to industry and route disturbances and can least afford downtime on their vehicles. Their trust and long-term loyalty to HCV stems from having their needs consistently understood and met.
We draw their attention to the risks of having an employee incapacitated or unable to work or the potential loss of revenue waiting to be paid out for a vehicle that has been written off. Proper insurance cover facilitates a far quicker return to operation and keeps the load on the road.”, she explains.
“We look for reasons to pay claims,” explains Correira. “We look at every claim as unique. We believe in sharing in the claims journey with the client. This requires being able to talk to someone who knows and understands their situation and has that personal touch. A dedicated claims person deals with the complete claim process.
“The same, tailored methodology is evident in how we underwrite. Generally, people will look just at the vehicle as the insured asset. We take a very different approach. We view the business holistically. Just as we are partnering with Infiniti, we partner with our transporters. We encourage our brokers to take us along to see their clients; to have a look at the business; to understand the transporter and their specific needs. This approach gives us a deep insight into the business and the risk.
“Operators often add things that increase the value of the vehicle. We don’t simply look at market or retail value. Our approach is tailored to ensure that the client is covered adequately. We engage in close consultation with the insured and agree on value,” Correia says.
“We do not have a list of approved panel beaters that a client is obliged to choose from. Owner operators know their trucks. They have trusted repairers who they prefer, often in specific geographical areas, and being able to use their repairer makes a huge difference in their lives.
“Our underwriting process is thorough, we work to fully understand the nature of the client’s commercial vehicle business and the parameters of the operation to position a fair premium and optimal cover, sensitive to the risks.
Based on our vast experience, we look proactively at providing cover on aspects that may be overlooked by a prospective client; costs to be incurred for the removal of the wreckage, the replacement of keys, remote controls, legal liability insurance in the event of damage to third party property as the result of a vehicle accident – to name but a few.