With consumer home delivery of grocery items here to stay, we look at the important area of vehicle refrigeration of fresh and frozen items and the pressures of deadlines it places upon the fleet operator and its drivers. And just what are the implications for fleet insurance should the unthinkable occur during a round?
Home Delivery Here to Stay
This September saw the launch of high street stalwart Mark & Spencer launch its home delivery food service in the wake of its £750 million partnership with online shopping retailer Ocado. The 50 percent stake in Ocado’s retail division allows it to sell 6,000 grocery items and 800 clothing and homeware lines.
Ten Ocado vans have been already repainted with Percy Pig livery, M&S’s confectionery range and Ocado’s 1500 plus van fleet will service the UK distribution network nationwide. It’s a lucrative step too, with Ocado estimating a whopping £1million in sales per single van alone.
Now, with all major shopping retailers moving online (and not just as a result of the COVID stay-at-home trend by consumers) more and more streets are occupied not just by Ocado but by Yodel, Deliveroo, supermarket own van fleets and a host of independent van services operating within the burgeoning home delivery marketplace.
Keeping deliveries, and especially food and produce, fresh for the consumer is essential. Refrigerated vans differ from simple insulated and ventilated lorries (usually used for transporting fruit), neither of which are fitted with cooling mechanisms.
Refrigerator vans can be ice-cooled, fitted with any one of a variety of mechanical refrigeration systems powered by small diesel engines, or use carbon dioxide (either as dry ice or in liquid form) as a cooling agent.
Commercial Vehicle Insurance
There are particular risks associated with this type of work, with the concern that food deliveries could be lost, stolen or damaged in transit, especially if you’re visiting multiple street locations in a hurry.
Commercial vehicle insurance or fleet insurance is designed to protect you, the vehicle you drive and the cargo you transport, including perishable food. Getting the right type of insurance depends on the type of business you run. Your policy should also protect you against the any liability risks you pose to other road users as well as their vehicles, property and persons.
If your refrigerated van and its cargo play a vital part in your grocery delivery business, then you must have adequate cover in place. Commercial vehicle insurance is designed to protect you against the unique risks you face. That includes:
- Making a lot of different stops during a single trip
- High levels of daily mileage
- A range of cargo types of different values
- The option of public liability, employers’ liability and a wide range of different cover types to protect you against every eventuality.
Goods in Transit Cover
Whether you work as a part-time courier with your own car, run a fleet of several vans or even own a courier fleet, if you drive for a living and regularly deliver groceries to customers or employ drivers who do, it’s essential you’re covered by commercial vehicle or courier insurance. And it’s not just the vehicles you drive that have value. You may also transport important and valuable cargo, so it makes sense to get cover in place that protects you against the specific risks you face.
As well as protection for the road risks, you need to take out a policy that comes with goods in transit cover. This will have you protected should your groceries or other valuable cargo be lost, damaged (heat spoiled) or stolen. You can also add public and employers’ liability cover as well as other business insurances that may be needed to create a single policy that meets all your needs.
Protecting Your Delivery Fleet
If you own a small fleet of refrigerated delivery vehicles, you can place them all under a single motor fleet insurance policy that will cover everything you need. An established fleet with a good claim’s history can often mean some great discounts. It’s easier to manage your fleet and the more vehicles you have, the cheaper your policy can become.
One of the great things about some types of fleet insurance is that you can establish some restrictions when setting up your policy. Agreeing an any driver policy means that anyone with a valid UK driving licence can drive any of your vehicles stated on the policy. So, you could theoretically have anyone who meets the relevant insurance conditions (age, driving history, convictions, etc) drive without the hassle of having to contact your insurer to check details and add them on to the policy for individual vehicles.