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Fleets push dealers on safety

Fleet bosses have urged car dealers to put safety before sales as drivers arrive on their doorsteps asking to test the latest models.

Dealers were warned that although drivers may work for a large employer, or even have a copy of the firm’s insurance certificate, that doesn’t mean they are covered to drive a test 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 damage.

Members of the London West regional meeting of ACFO, the fleet operators’ association, heard the incident led to a legal wrangle with the dealer asking for payment from the employer. The employer said it hadn’t given permission for the test drive.

One fleet operator told members: “This is a serious issue, particularly with cash takers. Often their own insurance company won’t cover them for the test drive.”

Delegates heard that businesses could arrange for a low cost block insurance to cover them for a set number of test cars per year, but that still required close cooperation with drivers.

The key to tackling the problem was controlling the problem and ensuring dealers put safety before sales, members heard.

One member said: "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."

David Dippie, regional chairman, told delegates: “If you control your drivers then you know what they are up to.”

Car retailers at the meeting agreed that they needed to take responsibility for the issue as well, rather than hoping everything was covered.

One dealer told delegates: “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 pressured.”

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