A roundup on recovery

Dec 17, 2019

A lot has changed over the last twenty years in the world of vehicle recovery and storage. Here, Peter Goodright, General Manager at Nationwide Vehicle Assistance (NWVA), takes a look at how things used to be, what you can expect today and some future innovations to look forward to.

Historically, it was common practice for the police to engage with contractors directly. There was a reluctance from police authorities, recovery agents and insurers/accident managers to form the type of supply chain relationship that we see today.

As such, there was little or no control over charges, which led to unnecessary elongated storage invoices of 25-35 days on average. Also, there was no control over the daily storage rate and, more often than not, there was no indication where the vehicle was stored. The combined result was high levels of litigation, further increase in cost and of course, above all, a huge detrimental impact on the customer journey.

It’s hard to believe in the compliance-driven world that we operate in today, that there were no regulatory checks carried out on truck drivers who would often be the only person meeting the customer face to face in the entire claims journey.

There was also very little proactivity when it came to the recovery vehicle itself. The vehicle attending the scene could be too large and therefore unable to gain access, or too small to be able to collect the load. Like the issues referred to above, the outcome was uncontrollable spend for this element of a motor claim as a second call out charge would be incurred.


How have we changed this?

Using vast experience in the recovery industry, Mick Jennings, owner of LJ Transportation, which is the largest recovery operator in Essex, set about sorting out the disarray. He took a solution to the insurance market that would enable a fully transparent and cost-effective solution and so created Nationwide Vehicle Assistance.

He built a like-minded Nationwide network of reputable operators that have to pass a specific set of regulations and an on-site annual audit to enable them to be included within the network. All of the agents must be able to prove that they are ISO and PAS 43 qualified, all insurances are up to date, all drivers are CRB checked and correctly licensed to drive the relevant types of vehicle and audited regularly.

The network consists of in excess of 1000 agents with a wide spread of capabilities and specialisms that enables Nationwide to guarantee and to be a one-stop shop for any type of recovery anywhere in the UK and across Europe.

To ensure that the network remains compliant in all aspects of recovery, Nationwide employs a dedicated network team that constantly audits and monitors the agents and every invoice they submit before it is sent to the Nationwide customer.

This team will also proactively manage the customer’s vehicles that are held in storage ensuring that Nationwide, their agents and customers work together to move the vehicles on to their ultimate destination as quickly as possible to limit the number of days that charges accrue for.

It is vitally important that as recovery operators become a recognised part of the supply chain, that the relationships develop, and technology is used to aid the recovery process and ensure that at the point of instruction as much information as possible is exchanged. This will ensure that the right recovery agent is dispatched in the right type of vehicle to suit the need of the job. This will guarantee that upon arrival, the recovery driver will know exactly what to expect and what needs to be done to make the car and all the occupants safe and secure.

It is also important that this information is used to protect the recovery drivers’ safety as they are often placed in dangerous situations. Working at the side of a busy dual carriageway in torrential rain is no place for the faint hearted, sometimes it will be necessary to send a second driver to assist. Making this decision in advance using the information provided will alleviate unnecessary delays.


What’s next for the industry?

Advancement in technology over the years has dramatically improved the levels of communication within the supply chain.

Taking advantage of the transparency that technology provides, Nationwide are able to offer several solutions to ensure extremely efficient service levels and customer satisfaction combined with the most cost-effective solutions. Nationwide invest heavily in technology and will continue to do so. We have many innovative and future proofing projects underway currently and would welcome the opportunity to share and develop these ideas further with our current and future customers.

As the popularity of EVs increases, the recovery and safeguarding of electric vehicles following an RTA is of major importance.

Unless your chosen partners are fully aware of the dangers and requirements of a safe recovery, there is potential for very serious and expensive consequences. Nationwide have been rolling out training information and updates to their network over the last couple of years in anticipation of the proliferation of electric vehicles hitting the road.

Despite the new level of transparency, there still needs to be a focus on cost control, the recovery industry still has operators stuck in their old ways, charging for the use of specialist equipment or additional people that weren’t actually required, deliberately holding on to vehicles in storage for longer than necessary, etc.

Nationwide has launched its newest specialist charges cost control programme for those who do not yet have Nationwide as part of their supply chain. The team will apply their technical expertise to each recovery invoice and provide a short report on what equipment should have been used and at what cost. This includes commercial vehicles invoices that can range from £1.5k-£30K. Albeit early days, the programme has already saved the industry over £1m in unnecessary cost.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss any aspects of the recovery industry and how Nationwide could be of assistance to you or your business. Get in touch with us today.