For the past few years CEI has been telling truck fleets that they can save time and money by outsourcing their accident management activities to you. How is that going?
Our experience in particular over the last year has shown us that our message to truck fleets has been resonating. We actually experienced double digit growth in the past year, have signed on many new truck fleets and we have truly made so many inroads in the industry that we could not be more pleased.
Give us some examples of the savings that your truck customers are enjoying.
In the past year we saved our clients in the truck sector nearly $4 million dollars in repairs. We accomplished this through our team of licensed physical damage appraisers, who audit and scrub every single estimate that comes into our company. We are looking at labor costs by market, we are looking at parts costs, we are looking at the validity of repair and we are able to negotiate on behalf of our clients to get our estimates in line so that we have accurate and fair estimates for our clients. It has been truly a lifesaver for a number of our clients.
In working with our truck and service fleet clients we have learned that most of our fleets have been “right-sized” as a result of poor economic conditions back in 2008–2010. As a direct result, there are no longer spare vehicles to depend on when an accident happens. This places a premium on more efficient management of the repair process from start to finish. CEI’s commitment to truck and service fleets is to manage every claim to be sure we deliver a high-quality repair, and that our vendors know that when one of those vehicles is in their shop it must get immediate service for the quickest possible turnaround.
Let’s talk about a specific fleet.
We signed a national fleet at CEI nearly one year ago. We recently met with them and reviewed our performance over the past year. We were able to deliver to them over $500,000 in accident damage recoveries from third-party, at-fault drivers. We were very pleased to hear the company recognize us for this accomplishment. They also told us that on top of the recovery of a half-million dollars they believe that CEI saved more than $100,000 in expenses they would have incurred pursuing those recoveries with company resources. It was especially gratifying for them to tell us that in the one year since we started working together, CEI has exceeded every one of the promises we made. We are very, very pleased with that success story.
When you call on a prospective client, where are you seeing that they are leaving money on the table if they are managing their own accidents? Where are those savings?
What we are hearing from prospective customers, as well as our own clients, in terms of the opportunity for savings and cost is very interesting. For example, another client we’ve been working with for one year recently mentioned that he has numerous locations across the U.S. and in Canada. In the past, he said, he felt fortunate if he was able to obtain an estimate involving an accident with one of his fleet vehicles. He admitted to me that he didn’t really have any way of knowing whether that estimate was written for a transmission or whether the truck truly needed a bumper. He really didn’t know. But, he told me, “Now, with CEI, I know that my trucks are being sent to qualified shops, and that you have a licensed appraiser who is reviewing and scrubbing my estimate line by line so I can be confident that I am getting a true, needed repair. I never had those kinds of checks and balances in the past. To be honest, we rubber-stamped every estimate that came through here. We have seen tremendous cost savings since we joined CEI.”
How have you been able to help your clients achieve savings through subrogation?
When we talk about subrogation with prospective truck and service fleet clients, we often find that they have a very limited process in place, usually with internal staff. Most also tell me that they are not satisfied with the results they are achieving. We signed a new prospect last year who told me that there is no question that the amount of work involved with recovering from insurance companies who represent third-party at-fault drivers is extremely tedious. Most companies do not have the resources that are required for a high level of success.
In one case, a client told me that soon after we began our partnership they recognized that we have such a methodical and precise program for collecting that they opened up a drawer full of old subrogation files they had given up on. They asked if CEI could possibly assist. They had 80 files that were up to two years old that they had had no success at collecting on. We worked those files and delivered on 45 of them. Our clients told us that they viewed that as found money for their company, money that they never expected to recover.
CEI stresses the value of its online accident management data that clients can access. What are your trucking clients saying about that?
Our clients are telling us that our web based application, which is called ClaimsLink™ Express Lane, has been an extremely powerful and transparent tool. I have one client who told me, “I am in that application every single day following the entire life of my claim. I never have to wonder if my claim is being followed up on. I see up to the minute reporting and I cannot imagine being able to effectively manage my job without it.”
Luann Dunkerley is national manager of business development for truck and service fleets at the CEI Group, Inc. She joined CEI in 2008 after a long career with Ryder System, Inc., a global provider of transportation, logistics and supply chain management. In her last position at Ryder, she was a market development manager based in Philadelphia, PA, with responsibility for leasing and financing programs for targeted accounts in the Delaware Valley.