Whether chartering a plane to reach a remote driver in distress, or climbing aboard a rubber dinghy to clear tallow from a creek – it’s all in a day’s work for the National Transport Insurance (NTI) Accident Assist team.
On 1st November, NTI celebrated the 10th anniversary of the program that revolutionised heavy transport insurance service standards and today still stands alone as unique.
A vital part of NTI’s claims solution, the international award-winning Accident Assist service ensures drivers are looked after, accident sites are cleared sooner, damage to equipment, load and site is minimised, and the truck is back on the road faster.
10 years ago, NTI Accident Assist became the missing link that was desperately needed between Heavy Recovery Operators, the insurer and repairers, cutting claims approval from up to two weeks down to just 24 hours.
NTI Chief Executive Officer Tony Clark said, “NTI Accident Assist was created in 2002 after research showed that earlier involvement of insurance and recovery specialists at accident scenes would benefit drivers and owners, minimise costs and give brokers peace of mind.”
“Before the advent of NTI Accident Assist, as the insurer we’d often be the last to know about an accident and had no control over keeping the intermediary and policyholder informed, how a truck was recovered or how potentially significant site damage was managed,” he went on to say.
“This meant a truck might not have repairs authorised for a week. We realised that if we were involved right from the time an accident occurred, we could make the recovery process – for the driver, the vehicle and the environment – as efficient as possible.”
NTI Accident Assist offers complete accident scene management. NTI’s branded Heavy Recovery trucks and Accredited Recovery Operators are trained to recover vehicles so further damage is minimised, reducing repair costs and times through its network of repairers.
NTI staff, who attend on site, have expertise in clean up, vehicle recovery and load recovery. NTI Accident Assist also offers medical assistance via registered nurses, message relay, repatriation services and trauma counselling for drivers, their families and transport company staff.
NTI promotes to intermediaries and policy holders that its Accident Assist call centre is one of their most critical points of contact after an accident.
“While the priority of other parties – such as police and road authorities – may be getting the road cleared, our approach is holistic: we work with them to do it safely and efficiently without causing more damage.”
Mr Clark said NTI has worked with its Accredited Recovery Operators to improve heavy vehicle recovery equipment, practices and roadside behaviour. The working relationship between NTI and its recovery operators has seen the creation of the Heavy Recovery Vehicle Association of Australia (HRVAA) to act as the vehicle to raise standards across the industry.
NTI has also assisted the sector in developing TruckSafe Accreditation specifically for heavy recovery vehicle operators. This industry initiative delivers accreditation covering management, maintenance, workplace safety driver health and driver training.
“At NTI we believe we’re only as good as the people who work for us and with us,” Mr Clark said.
“We consider the time and resources we’ve invested in the heavy recovery vehicle sector as an investment in customers’ businesses to help get them back to work faster.”
Over the past five years, NTI has worked with the HRVAA, key stakeholders and the Transport and Logistics Skills Council to develop a Certificate IV driving qualification for heavy recovery vehicle operators. The National Skills Standards Council recently signed off the training package which involves three core and 11 elective units.
“A decade on from the launch of NTI Accident Assist, the proof is in the pudding,” Mr Clark said.
“NTI Accident Assist has not only been internationally recognised for innovative service, as judged in the Asia Pacific Insurance Industry Awards, but we get great feedback from customers.
“We have also been named as a finalist for Claims Service Provider of the Year in the Australian Insurance Industry Awards for the past two years.
"Our job is getting people back on the road sooner. Accident Assist means we're on the ground as soon as we can be to offer drivers and company owners the best assistance possible when they need it most, and giving brokers peace of mind their customers are being looked after by the best in the business for 10 years now."