Last week we released our 2017 Crash Index which at a high level, outlined trends in statistics we have gathered over the last few years. As we stated last week, given the niche nature of our product and our desire to be truly tailored to the off-road market, our experience will be a true reflection of the types of accidents that do happen off and on-road. Over the next two weeks we will focus on the most highly represented claim types and provide some tips for how to prevent similar incidents – after all, no one wants to be without their pride and joy right?
Single Vehicle Accidents
Whilst the graphs from last week showed the various types of claims we’ve processed, many are within normal parameters for a motor insurance portfolio. The one area that really stands out for us are single vehicle accidents. These are of course made up of claims on and off-road. This week we will look at some of the more common on-road incidents:
1) Animal Strike – It’s no revelation that where we travel even when the roads are sealed, there is risk of our furry coat-of-arms critters jumping out for a look at that shiny front grille. The damage from such a strike can be anywhere from a slightly bent bulbar to a destroyed engine or interior to a total loss. There are plenty of wild animals in the outback, from your common kangaroo, wombats and emu’s, through to the more scary and dangerous cows, horses and camels. The latter will put an almost certain stop to your holiday and render your vehicle un-drivable. None of these animals know the difference between the verge and the road. They can and will dart out, giving you only a few split seconds to decide how to react.
Before we get to that, let’s talk about the danger periods. Many will know that dusk and dawn are when these fellas are out feeding – so if you must drive at these times, do so with extreme care and vigilance. Generally, night driving isn’t recommended because of the amount of wildlife. Regardless, you should try and limit driving at night time. They’re also more likely to be close to the road where there has been a dry spell; seeking out the grass that readily grows on the sides of the road.
Like most things, prevention is the best cure, but there will be unavoidable times where you will find yourself needing to drive during the danger periods. During these times it’s important to be vigilant – use your lights and be on the lookout. Always drive to the conditions, if you need to make an emergency adjustment to your steering inputs or throttle inputs, are you going too fast to make a save? Drop back 10% to give yourself some leeway. Ultimately though, if you are faced with the worst case scenario, be aware of your surroundings. Often, the best thing you can do is continue the path your on – a swift steering manoeuvre can be devastating at 100km/h. This is exacerbated by a loaded vehicle that may also be towing. Get off the loud pedal, gently apply your brakes to stabilise and shift load to the front axle and continue on your course, unless you are certain it is safe to adjust.
2) Minor/carpark type damage – Embarrassing, yes – avoidable, yes! There’s nothing worse than putting a ding in your tailgate backing into a bollard or scraping the side of your tray coming out of a parking spot. Ultimately we are all driving around in vehicles that are larger in general size than the average sedan. One thing I’ve always banged on about with a lot of the new commercial vehicles being sold today (and dual cabs are getting more and more popular) is the lack of obvious safety equipment such as sensors and cameras. Whereas these days a budget compact will have variants of each, many over-5m long vehicles don’t get a mention until you go up the spec and price range a couple of rungs. So my view here is this, if you have 5, 10 or 20k to spend on mods for your vehicle, put a small fraction of that into a camera system. This isn’t just about panel damage – too many children have been hurt as a result of these blind spots. If you have kids, this could be the best investment you’ve ever made.
3) Loss of Control – The average vehicle age in our portfolio is higher than general motor books and this suits us just fine! However, many of these older vehicles either have no collision avoidance functionality such as ESP or traction control, or have older versions of these systems. Now I’m not saying I’m a fan of electronics but you can’t debate the safety net they create for those of us who just aren’t as skilled as others. Not having to concern yourself with how much right or left foot (if you’re versed in left foot braking!) to put in to stop or control a slide, or not to slide at all in the first place takes skill, experience and most importantly – common sense. That last virtue will stop you from getting yourself into trouble to start with. So the next time you approach that long right hander, remember what tyres you’re running, where your centre of gravity is and wipe off some speed. If you wanted that sort of driving you shouldn’t have bought a fourby!
Have you got any tips to add to prevent the above types of damage?