Van fleet security, training and compliance solutions provider, HH Driveright, is warning fleet managers that current motor market situations make it more imperative than ever they do not incur a ‘van down’ situation, the cost of which could easily amount to around £50,000.

Being a van down within a fleet operation can disrupt operations and adversely affect customer delivery times, even when the van is just temporarily off the road. In the case of a vehicle theft, it can mean waiting for an insurance claim to be resolved.  Where the van has been stolen through driver negligence, that insurance payout is never likely to come. 

In this scenario, where a driver has left the van unlocked or with keys in the ignition, the insurer has every right to refute the claim.  Rather than being able to replace a van through its insurance policy, the fleet business will be left shouldering the vehicle’s replacement cost. 

On top of this, delays in obtaining new vans are lengthy, with some van dealers quoting 9-12 weeks, due to the supply chain issues caused by Covid, micro controller chip shortages, shipping disruption and global weather disasters. 

As well as having to find a means to finance the purchase of a new van, a ‘van down’ situation, caused by driver negligence, may require the fleet manager to hire a replacement van. Hire rates, even at a conservative rate, could cost the fleet £280 to £400 a week, dependent on the size of van.  Over a 12-week period, that equates to an addition cost of £3360 to £4800. 

Added to this are the ‘extras’ attached to vehicle hire – excess protection at around £25 per day (£2250 over three months) and roadside protection (around £10 per day, so £900 over 12 weeks). 

Add all of this up and the ‘van down’ cost of having a Ford Transit van stolen, because the keys were left inside, is somewhere around the £50,000 mark, taking into account the need to purchase a vehicle and hire a temporary vehicle until it arrives. 

With a fierce market for used vehicles in 2022, due to the significant new vehicle delays, even a 2020 Ford Transit van, with 17,000 miles on the clock and two previous owners, is currently quoted at a price of just under £35,000. 

“The ‘van down’ scenario, as we call it, is one no fleet wants to face, if they have no means to recoup the cost through their insurance policy,” says HH Driveright’s managing director, Rebecca Hall.   

“Good key practice is a hard lesson to learn, if a financial blow of £35,000 to £50,000 is suffered. It is even more galling for fleets to have to pick up such a tab, when a very simple means of preventing drivers from leaving the keys in the ignition exists, at a cost of just £10.25 per month, plus initial fitting fee.” 

This is the HH Driveright GM2020 device, which automatically, or manually, immobilises a van, left unlocked, if the driver has not returned to it within 10 seconds.  An audible alert is first provided, to allow the driver to respond. Should the van be immobilised, to prevent opportunist thieves stealing it whilst the driver is delivering a package or with a customer, it can be remobilised within 60 seconds, via multiple platforms. 

Operators should remember that delivery drivers are often operating to tight schedules and under pressure to deliver parcels within set time frames.  In a fast-moving environment, it is easy to hop out of a van, dash off to make a delivery and leave the van unlocked and ready to drive away.   

With thieves being aware of this, and with such a buoyant market for used vehicles and parts derived from breaking them down, it is a huge risk to take, especially when it can result in a financial loss of between £35,000 and £50,000.