ILC ARTICLE

S&G Response compare the impacts of the first and second UK lockdowns on driver behaviours and motor incident times


With the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the first lockdown in the UK taking place on 23rd March, April saw the largest decrease in claims volumes with numbers down by 70%. As has been largely reported elsewhere, the advent of home working the normal commuter rush hour has resulted in fewer collisions. This change in claims volume was similar to the reported decrease of all motor traffic levels to 25%, in the same period, as published by the Department of Transport; but how did this compare with the second and most recent nationwide lockdown?

In the November lockdown, we experienced a 10% decrease in motor claims volume. The 60% difference in monthly motor claims volumes between the two nationwide lockdowns evidences an increase of drivers on the roads during the second lockdown. This is due to a combination of less stringent restrictions and potentially the public’s lessening patience regarding the virus compared to March. Due to restrictions in lockdown one, motorways were much quieter as drivers chose to stay local if they travelled at all, whilst during lockdown two, the impact on motorway traffic was equal to that of localised traffic and much smaller in the whole.  We have been tracking new referrals geographically and have so far see no impact of the tiering system on motor incident frequencies.

The first lockdown of the year and the more recent November lockdown have both impacted upon public behaviours and our industry in a multitude of ways. Interestingly, the influence of the changing rules from lockdown to lockdown on lifestyle and routine and how this affected the volume of incidents between certain hours of the day can be seen in Figure 2.

Vehicle technology and societal change are viewed hand in hand in our sector. Take the impact of Covid-19 and the trend of home-working – how many families will be reviewing their two-car model?  Will one car suffice if there is no need for a daily commute and what will that do to accident frequencies?

Despite the decrease in traffic and motor incidents, the timing of motor incidents  followed the same percentage split as during the first lockdown.   The most notable change, however, came surprisingly not from lockdown one but from the second with the percentage of motor incidents in each hour period lowering by around 1%, but as seen in Figure 2, large spikes arise between the hours of 10am and 12 pm and again between 2pm and 4pm.

Changes to the rules for the second lockdown including allowing schools to remain open is an important contributor to accident frequencies.  It is clear from the lockdown two incident times that this is one of the largest contributors to motor incidents taking place outside of usual rush hours as traffic density around localised areas near schools is at its peak.  With more members of the public being placed on furlough or homeworking it has given way to more opportunities for them to collect their children from school as opposed to as the more traditional use of  school busses, which is likely much less preferred due to social distancing.

The Covid-19 Pandemic, all in all has impacted on all areas of the industry, all manners of processes and even driver behaviours and thus altering claims volumes and incident times at a rate never previously witnessed. We continue to use our in-house database to stay informed and in turn share obtained insights with the industry and partners.

As a direct impact of lockdown, without a doubt, industry relationships are closer. We have been sharing more information than ever as we are all interconnected and during these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to share what we know and be transparent. Sean Harper, Supply Chain Manager commented ‘We shared data and insights on a level that we would have all thought impossible in February. We all needed each other before Covid-19, but we tended to focus on what divided us, or what we disagreed about. As an industry we have since recognised that we were part of one eco-system and had to work together. Yes, insurers, third party administrators, and repairers all have different agendas and different commercial objectives, but we all need each other. Our already strong relationships with repairers have strengthened in a “blitz like” spirit of working together through the pandemic. The collaboration of all parties previously working independently somewhat has been fantastic.’

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