Vehicle Assessor Insurance Guide

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If you run either a full-time vehicle assessor company from a business premises or a part-time motor engineer business from home, you will need a flexible motor trade insurance policy that can be tailored to suit your needs.

Most vehicle assessor insurance policies can also be tailored to cover everything from road risk to tools, diagnostic and photographic and computer equipment as well as liability insurance.

Selecting the right motor trade insurance policy and the insurance company you choose can be a difficult task for even the most experienced vehicle assessor. The two broad areas you need to consider are what insurance you legally need for your business and what you cannot afford to replace or pay-out for if something were to go wrong.

As a vehicle engineer or assessor, you are likely to have some very specific and expensive diagnostic equipment that is vital to your business. If it were to malfunction or be stolen in a break in, you will need a motor trade insurance policy that makes sure you can get up and running as quickly as possible to avoid loss of business.

Choosing the Right Cover

This type of motor trade insurance is ideal for vehicle assessors and engineers who need to evaluate the damage to vehicles or the work that has been carried out repairing them. This can be on a part-time or full-time basis.

As a leading motor trade insurance broker with many decades of experience, Tradex can tailor a policy to cover everything from road risks to a combined policy including premises, equipment and liability.

Vehicle assessor insurance can include:

· A comprehensive road risks policy, allowing you to be fully covered when test driving and moving a customer’s vehicle

· Cover for your own vehicles for social, domestic and pleasure use together with business

· Insurance for all testing and diagnostic equipment, together with other tools of the trade, stock and machinery

· Public liability, employers’ liability, products, sales and service indemnity

· Office contents and computer equipment including on-site cash

· Business interruption insurance

· Engineering inspection and insurance

· Building and contents cover

· Bonus Booster – Tradex offers those with no bonus a six month policy to accrue a year’s no claims discount and subsequently use this with us on a full term policy.


What is a Vehicle Assessor?

After receiving an insurance claim due to vehicle damage, an insurance broker usually arranges for a vehicle assessor to inspect the vehicle. The assessor will determine the extent of sustained damages and communicates this information to the insurer and sometimes even the vehicle owner.

A vehicle assessor will use the latest estimating and claims management systems and are responsible for the delivery of a comprehensive report on the safety and roadworthiness of a vehicle, be it a car, van, truck or even a motorcycle.

Vehicle assessors are generally engineers or motor mechanics and can operate on a full- or part-time basis from home or a business premises.

Also known as a claims adjuster or claims assessor, they will inspect all internal and external elements of a car that has sustained damage. This will determine the repairs necessary and whether it is economically feasible to carry them out, or the vehicle is deemed a write-off. This means the damage exceeds the value of the vehicle.

For insurance purposes, an insurance company can stipulate that an independent engineer or assessor inspects a vehicle before it agrees to provide cover (although an MOT certificate can also be used as proof of roadworthiness). Therefore, a large part of a vehicle assessor’s role is liaising with insurance companies, vehicle owners and drivers of vehicles that have been in accidents.

Vehicle assessing duties include:

· Identifying and recording both accidental and non-accidental vehicle damage

· Using a range of the latest digital technologies to record vehicle impairment in preparation for any repair work if faults discovered

· Keeping accurate documentation about the damaged motor vehicles, including their year, make, model, mileage and any customisations

· Giving a full analysis of the condition of a damaged vehicle’s safety systems, such as brakes and tyres, headlights, seatbelts and airbags

· Maintaining the latest knowledge of vehicle-related health and safety legislation and industry repair methods

· Being able to assess damages that need repair and those that will require being replaced

· Applying estimation software as well as being able to determine the approximate time repairs may take and the costs

· Having the knowledge and ability to discuss sustained damage and necessary repairs with supervisors, insurers and the vehicle owners, and gain approval for the quoted works

· Being able to use industry market guidelines to assess the current value of vehicles

· Post-repair inspections to satisfy the vehicle owner and insurance broker that the vehicle has been repaired correctly


Declaring a Vehicle a Write-off?

An insurance write-off is used when a vehicle has sustained so much damage it is no longer safe to be on the road. Alternatively, it could still be safe to drive but is beyond economical repair. If a car has been written-off, instead of being repaired the owner will receive a cash pay-out for the loss.

As a vehicle assessor, you will need to calculate the cost of repairs and make this judgement by inspecting the overall condition of the vehicle and analysing the collision damage. In addition, there are different categories of write-offs, which means some can still be sold and range from category A through to category S (these were updated by the government in 2017).

Category A is assigned to the most severely damaged vehicles and means it is only fit for scrap. This is generally for vehicles that have been involved in a high-impact crash or total burnouts, meaning that even the serviceable parts cannot be used.

Category B is used for vehicles that have widespread damage and are thus deemed unroadworthy. Whilst the shell of the vehicle is scrapped, useable parts may be salvaged and installed on other vans or cars. However, only Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATF) are allowed to store and process these vehicles.

Category N (replacing the old Cat D) is used where vehicles have not received any structural damage but the insurer declares it is not worth the costs of fixing. Damage will need rectifying before it can be considered roadworthy which could include the mechanics, the suspension system or the electronics.

Category S (which used to be called Cat C) is for vehicles that have received damage to the structure or bodywork but can be repaired and made roadworthy. The vehicle will be deemed unsafe for use until it has been professionally repaired.

In all of the above cases, the DVLA needs to be notified about the write-off, and has to assess any repairs made to a Category S car before it can be taken on the road.


Choosing a Vehicle Assessor Insurance Policy

All motor trade insurance policies should be designed for vehicle engineers or assessors who work on either a full or part-time basis. You can ask your insurer to tailor the policy to cover everything from road risks, as well as tools, equipment, building and contents, public and employers’ liability and business interruption and theft. It should cover your own vehicles for social, domestic and pleasure use, as well as business use.

Do I Need Motor Trade Insurance?

The short answer is yes. It does not matter whether you operate as a motor trader full-time, or part-time, you will still need to take out a motor trade insurance policy to cover your vehicle assessor business.

You cannot use your own private car insurance for a motor trade business. In its terms and conditions, it is likely to say that you are not able to operate as a motor trader. If you were to drive a customer’s car, you would be driving it uninsured.

If you were to cause an accident in a customer’s car, your insurer may void your insurance policy and it would become a police matter as you would be deemed as having no insurance in place. This could also lead to disqualification from driving, which would seriously impact your ability to run your business and would also make your future insurance policy much more costly.

Motor Trade Road Risk Insurance

Like regular private road insurance, motor trade insurance has three levels of cover available including comprehensive, third party fire & theft, and third party only.

Also, like private car insurance, your annual motor trade insurance renewal can be affected by your no claims discount, so it is important to take this into account, especially if you have less experienced employees who may be driving business or customer vehicles.

The road risk part of your motor trade insurance will cover you for any vehicles you drive as part of your daily business, both those that you own and customer vehicles that you need to drive on the road or even move around the yard for purposes of carrying out any assessments.

There are three varying levels of cover:

Third party only policy: This is the most basic level of cover that you will be legally required to have as part of your motor trade business. This only offers a basic level of protection. If you were to hit a third party vehicle, the cost of their vehicle would be covered but not the vehicle you are driving. As a motor trader, third party costs could be very expensive in the long run.

Third party, fire and theft: As with third party only, this covers motor traders to drive their own cars and vehicles belonging to clients on the road, plus they will also be covered for fire, theft, and damages from an attempted theft.

Comprehensive: This covers everything stated above but also includes accidental damage, whether that is to the vehicles owned by the motor trader or a customer’s vehicle in their possession.

Many companies opt for a Combined Motor Trade insurance policy, which includes Road Risk insurance as well as options to cover physical premises the business is trading from including machinery and equipment.

As your motor trade business could involve you interacting with the public on a regular basis, you may wish to consider including a liability package as part of a motor trade insurance policy. This includes public liability, product liability and employers’ liability (if you have employees).

Liability Insurance

If you take on employees, it may be a legal requirement to have employers’ liability insurance even if they are part-time or on a casual contract. Vehicle assessors in particular will be dealing with very damaged or dangerous vehicles and employees can come into contact with all sorts of hazards including heavy machinery, sharp objects and dangerous chemicals that can heighten the risk of an accident.

If an employee has an accident in the workplace or while undergoing a work task, even if it is not on your property, your motor trade business will be liable and not having the right level of cover could be costly. Employers’ liability ensures you are financially covered and the employer must post the details of the insurance for employees to view.

Legally you must be insured for at least £5million but most employers’ liability insurance policies cover you up to £10million. If you fail to have sufficient employers’ liability insurance, you can be fined up to £2,500 for every day without cover and not displaying it prominently can result in a fine up to £1,000.

Public liability insurance works in a similar way to employers’ liability cover, in that it protects other people. If you are going to be working with the general public, it may be beneficial to take out public liability insurance. Although it is not a legal requirement, it offers you protection against claims from members of the public should they be injured or their property damaged for incidents that occur in connection with your business activities.

Product liability insurance is also not a legal requirement but can be very useful. It is primarily aimed at any business that supplies a product to the consumer. If something were to go wrong with a product you sold or supplied that led to damage to the person or property, you could be covered if a customer makes a claim.

Buildings and Premises Insurance

If you are a vehicle assessor that owns or operates from a premises, your motor trade insurance cover may also need to reflect this, for example, buildings and contents cover will insure the building

and anything in it which is related to the business. This can help to protect you against damage, break-ins and fires. In addition, it may be worth investing in stock cover, office equipment cover, equipment and machinery and any other expensive materials on your premises.


Keeping Insurance Costs Low

The best way to find a more competitive vehicle assessor insurance policy is to research a reputable motor trade insurance broker such as Tradex.

Choosing the cheapest insurer for your business may save you a bit of money in the short-term when cash flow is tight, but it may not give you all the protection you need for your business.

Here are some other ways to help your insurance policy to go through more smoothly:

1. Provide proof of trading: This will prove to your insurance broker that you are a legitimate motor trader.

2. Increasing your excess: This is generally one of the better ways to help lower your premiums. If you think that your chance of having to make a claim is low, this could be one way to keep costs down.

3. Keep the number of drivers on the policy low. The greater the number of drivers added to your vehicle assessor policy, the higher your premium will be. Adding careful and more mature named drivers may also help to ensure a better deal.

4. Reduce the number of younger drivers: The age of drivers on the policy can also have a significant effect on the premium you pay. Drivers under the age of 25 are seen as higher risk to insurance companies, and therefore you will generally incur a higher premium. The same also applies to drivers with convictions.

5. Try to pay annually: This may be more difficult for a new business, but monthly payments could see you end up paying a higher overall premium. This is because of the interest charged on the amount being funded for your premium when paying monthly.

6. Building up your no claims discount: If you are just starting out, it can be difficult to have built up enough no claims discount. However, you may find that your motor trade insurance broker takes your private car no claims history into account. If you have sufficient years of no claims in place, it could help to lower your vehicle assessor insurance premium.

7. Secure your stock: It is important that if you have considerable stock, you have a secure place to keep them. The less secure your vehicles and stock may be the higher your likely insurance premium. Make sure you have a secure and locked garage.

8. Keeping business vans secure: If you park a company van at home overnight, choose things like immobilisers, trackers and alarms to deter would be thieves. Park in a well-lit area and remove any valuables overnight.

9. Setting up a new business or relocating: Try to choose somewhere with a low crime rate. If this is not possible, make sure your business is at a gated premises with security lights, CCTV and other protective measures. A gated premises, even if it is located in an area with a higher crime rate, could still help lower your premium.

Five Things To Avoid 

  1. Undisclosed claims: you must inform your motor trade insurance broker if you have made any claims on an insurance policy. This also includes private car insurance as well as home insurance.

  2. Undisclosed convictions: you need to provide any details of past convictions. Failure to do so could lead to your policy being cancelled or voided.

  3. Falsifying a business address: Some areas of the country get better insurance rates than others, mainly due to factors such as lower crime rates. You may be tempted to use an address of a friend or family member but this would affect a claim if you needed to report a break in and it is likely the insurance company will require a police report. If it is found you lied about your address, your claim could be rejected and your insurance policy cancelled or voided. 

  4. Undervaluing stock, or not declaring other categories of stock: This can lower the premium you have paid or are paying for but will also provide insufficient cover. This is why it’s important to be honest about the stock you carry.

  5. Claiming to be an employee rather than a company director: This may make your premium cheaper, but it can also reduce the benefits of having a motor trade policy, such as being able to use cars for social use and having your own personal vehicle covered under your motor trade insurance policy.  

    Giving any false information could mean that your motor trade insurance policy is cancelled or voided and any claims under review may be rejected. If your policy were to be cancelled, your motor trade business would be without insurance and you would not be covered for driving customer vehicles or have any liability insurance for employees or customers.  

    If you have any queries about the cover you need for your vehicle assessment business, contact an experienced motor trade insurance broker such as Tradex who will help you choose exactly the right level for your company throughout its growth and development. 

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