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Dealers warned to exercise caution on test drives

Dealers are being urged to put safety before sales when company car drivers arrive on their doorsteps asking to test drive the latest models.

They were warned this week that although drivers may work for large employers, or even have a copy of the firm’s insurance certificate, that might not mean they were covered to test drive a car.

The warning comes after a company car driver persuaded a dealer to allow him to test an £18,000 car, which was then crashed, causing £12,000 of damage.

The incident led to a legal wrangle, with the dealer asking for payment from the employer, while the employer said it hadn’t given permission for the drive.

One fleet operator said: ‘This is a serious issue, particularly with cash-for-car takers. Often their own insurance company won’t cover them for the test drive.’

Another fleet manager added: ‘We don’t allow drivers to have copies of insurance certificates. If they do ask for one, we keep a note and demand it back. There has been abuse of certificates, which is why we control them so closely.’

Businesses could arrange for a low cost block insurance to cover them for a set number of test cars per year, but that still requires close co-operation with drivers.The key to tackling the problem was controlling it and ensuring dealers put safety before sales.

David Dippie, regional chairman of fleet operators’ association ACFO said: ‘If you control your drivers then you know what they are up to.’

Car dealers have agreed that they need to take responsibility for the issue as well, rather than hoping everything was covered.

One dealer said: ‘I ask to see driving licences, proof of insurance cover and permission from the employer. If they complain and say they will go somewhere else, then fine.

‘The ramifications of not doing it properly are huge and you might as well hand your notice in straight away. If they threaten to walk out of the showroom, then let them. Don’t allow yourself to be pressurised.’

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