Unaccompanied test drive theft on the rise

September 28, 2021
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With unaccompanied test drive theft on the rise, PIB’s Motor Trade Practice Group looks at how to mitigate risk whilst keeping customer satisfaction at the forefront.

The pandemic and regulations around social distancing meant that the number of accompanied test drives decreased dramatically, whilst unaccompanied test drives increased.

Even before lockdowns came into place, the trend showed that customers found test driving a car without a sales executive far preferable. In fact, recent research from AX showed that almost two thirds (63%) of drivers want unaccompanied test drives to become standard practice*.

Analysis by Cooper Solutions corroborates this, where the number of loans has increased by 33% from pre-pandemic to post lockdown**.

Unaccompanied test drives offer a far better experience where a potential buyer can test a car for comfort, equipment and handling when the pressure is taken off them, and many feel more positively about a dealer when offered this form of test drive, welcoming the opportunity to make a more informed purchase decision.

However the freedom presented by an unaccompanied test drive also raises the risk involved for the dealership. The theft of a vehicle would result in not only the loss of an asset, but retailers will be required to pay an excess which can range from 15% to 25% on the value of that vehicle depending on the insurance solution in place.

As a customer-led industry, retailers cannot ignore the positive uplift in sales following unaccompanied test drives. This shift in customer expectation means it is vital to protect against the possibility of financial loss.

There are a number of ways where retailers can mitigate this risk, for instance:

  • Consider quality short-term insurance cover for sales demonstration vehicles, so that in the unfortunate event of an incident, the right protection at the right price is in place
  • Ensure sales teams remain vigilant in circumstances, for example, where the customer has arrived at the dealership without a vehicle, and therefore has no asset with them, or the vehicle they arrived on site in differs greatly in terms of value and quality from the vehicle they intend to test drive.
  • Thorough licence checks must be carried out, and second forms of identification cross-checked.

By ensuring these measures are put in place, dealers can enhance the customer experience with unaccompanied test drives and boost their bottom line at the same time, whilst reducing financial risk to their businesses.

James Cooper, Product Director, at Cooper Solutions commented: ‘Our data gives us a great insight into how customer expectations have changed.  It’s clear that unaccompanied test drives are here to stay.  The crucial issue is that retailers protect any financial risk to their businesses whilst providing an excellent customer experience.

PIB’s Motor Trade Practice Group can support retailers on key measures to help mitigate the risk, whilst supporting businesses maximise opportunities for profitability. Comprising PIB Insurance BrokersPIB Risk Management and Cooper Solutions, together they work together to deliver tailored insurance solutions to the automotive industry.

To find out more, please contact James Cooper or call 01926 855055



**Cooper Solutions data: sales number of loans July-August 2019 and July-August 2021