Mia Constable, Head of Business Development at e2e was recently interviewed by I Love Claims to discuss the challenges the pandemic has brought to the industry and what the future holds for 2021.
What are the challenges are facing your business right now, and how are you working to overcome them?
The pandemic continues to dominate the motor claims industry with reduced road usage leading to lower claims volumes. The types of journeys being made have also changed with fewer long-distance trips, together with less rush hour traffic as a result of more people working from home. As a salvage and recycling network, our services include the management of salvage in the form of end-of-life and total loss vehicles, and the sourcing and supply of reclaimed parts to help insurers reduce motor claims repair costs and offer their customers choice. Whilst total loss claims are down, we have seen appetite for reclaimed parts increase with the pandemic impacting other parts supply chains.
To deliver exceptional real-time service and in tandem plan ahead with confidence, to accommodate changing government instructions and fluctuating motor claims volumes, requires a sharp focus on the immediate and a close eye on the horizon, coupled with the agility to adapt rapidly. We are fortunate to have many long-standing members of staff with transferrable skills across the business. This gives us a cross-functional business infrastructure, which forms part of our business continuity planning and has meant we have been able to deploy our people and resources effectively, supporting our insurer clients in negotiating the impact of COVID-19. Having a good business continuity plan that we regularly tested before March 2020 and the first lockdown gave us a solid basis from which we have been able to adapt each time the pandemic sands shifted.
In such a fast-moving environment, keeping all stakeholders informed with clear communication has been vital, to include our people, our clients and our network members. Open conversations enquiring and understanding the challenges facing all parties has underpinned our thinking, resulting in a collaborative approach to anticipating and tackling problems.
What has been your biggest business learning from the coronavirus pandemic?
We have always been a business that has valued data and the pandemic really showed us the value of our data and analytics capabilities. Our data insights helped to inform our thinking and drive our adaptability in the changing operating environment. We focused on purposefully designed key indicators reflecting the pandemic landscape.
COVID-19 has been a good test of the reliability and accuracy of our data as we used it to map and overlay the pandemic experience with historical data showing a ‘typical year, season, month, week, etc.’ We were able to provide our insurer clients with insights tracking salvage volumes against claims volumes, share salvage auction performance and monitor Category A total loss spikes aligned to claims fraud concerns.
Data analytics helped us to identify gaps in the market linked to insurer pain points that were amplified by the pandemic, which meant we were able to fast track innovation and the delivery of new services.
As we go to a “new normal” what are you looking forward to returning to and practices will you keep?
Even the ‘new normal’ is proving difficult to pin down as we come out of Lockdown2 in England and new regional tier systems are introduced. We are committed to making the best of the opportunities provided by the present. As I mentioned we have been driving through innovation and launched two new services, Emergency Recovery Assistance [for both salvage and repairable vehicles] and a Finance Settlement Service to avoid the long delays experienced when a salvage vehicle has an outstanding finance marker on it. These services were born out of COVID-19 but their success and high demand mean they will remain part of our service portfolio going forward.
I am really looking forward to face to face meetings again and working in the office with the team. And I cannot wait for a return to physical industry events. The insurance market does these so incredibly well and they are so valuable. Virtual meetings and webinars have been great alternatives and definitely have a part to play in the future.
They both reduce travel time and can make the working day more productive. I do wonder if there has been a swing too far in terms of the number of virtual meetings that can punctuate the day. Sometimes maybe an old fashioned email or phone call would be just as good and maybe a bit quicker?! I certainly won’t miss my dog barking on my virtual meetings, and I have a feeling my team, clients and our network members might feel the same!
If you could go back to the beginning of 2020, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?
Invest in a really good coffee machine! Drinking a posh latte whilst having a virtual business meeting from home would have helped to make it feel a little more like my usual face to face meetings. I would also remind myself to be open to new ways of building and maintaining relationships.
We are fortunate at e2e that our IT capabilities mean we can be extremely agile and we have been able to integrate with the varied platforms our customers have chosen to use for virtual meetings and webinars. The new norm of business development in the pandemic environment requires adaptability and I am proud that we have been able to secure new contracts despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.
What would be your prediction for the industry in 2021?
I think the pandemic has been a catalyst for some positive change in the industry. Businesses have had to become more rapidly adaptable to market conditions and develop the ability to access emerging solutions. Continuing with this approach will bring increased appetite and more flexibility for insurers to trial partners who can bring new operational efficiencies and cost savings to the table.
Digitalisation and AI will continue to play a bigger part in motor claims, both to improve efficiency and reduce cost, whilst providing the ‘connected’ insurance consumer with the claims experience they expect. For the motor claims supply chain, the ability to build relationships with technology partners who can enhance their offerings and make them relevant and accessible in the digital environment will be important.
2030 and the ban on the manufacture of new fossil fuel vehicles will be on the industry’s radar as organisations begin to prepare for the future transition and the increasing numbers of EVs on the road. Our salvage and recycling network members are already processing EVs and dismantling them for reclaimed parts, with staff trained to deal with the transport, removal and recycling of batteries; so scaling up will be on their agenda.
And my final two predictions for 2021 have to be Brexit related. Reduced salvage values and delays in parts supply escalating already high motor claims repair costs are concerns for insurers. Brexit could reduce the profit margins in the sale of salvage vehicles as new export duties become applicable. At e2e, less than 10% of the 3000+ salvage vehicles we auction weekly on our platform, Salvage Market, are sold into the EU, so, fortunately, any new duties will not affect our auction performance and the salvage returns for our insurer clients.
Demand for reclaimed parts will increase as a cost-effective, and with e2e, warranty assured alternative to new OEM or after-market parts which will be subject to duties and cross border delays.
Our network members have been scaling up to accommodate increased demand for reclaimed parts, investing in new warehousing facilities and streamlining order/delivery processes that can see a part delivered within 48 hours of order. Two years ago the e2e network stocks of reclaimed parts stood at circa 1million+, today they are at 5million+ and growing.
The introduction of the VRA Certification Scheme which sees vehicle recyclers reclaimed parts processes audited against a new industry standard and ensuring consistent quality is extremely timely and will further support buyer confidence.