​Pets, drains and automobiles, the ever-changing world of specialist commercial vehicles

Hap Lab Shower Blog

By Mitul Malkan, Product Manager for Commercial at ERS

As the pandemic stretches on, it’s been fascinating to observe the tweaks people are making to their regular routines. Eating out or going for a drink with friends has been replaced by takeaways and pre-packaged cocktails for Zoom catch-ups. Increased time spent in the house creates increased demand for ongoing maintenance – from window cleaning to patio jet washes. 

With these market dynamics changing fast, we’re seeing a rapid rise in the number of companies looking to get on the road and make their business mobile. If businesses cannot get customers through their doors, why not try going out to customers’ doors instead?

However, going mobile often requires specialist commercial vehicles and equipment to get the job done, and these modified vehicles pose an insurance headache for mainstream providers. 

That’s why we’ve spent years refining our specialist commercial vehicle (SCV)product, dedicated to all of the weird and wonderful modified vehicles supporting UK mobile enterprise. It’s a marvellously diverse category, so we thought we’d share a few examples of the unique and intriguing areas in which we’re currently seeing mobile business growth:

Pet grooming and mobile veterinary services

Pet ownership has increased massively during the pandemic, including an astonishing 84% increase in London’s dog owners alone. While we may not be a part of the thriving pet insurance market, we are actively supporting the growth of mobile grooming and veterinary services.

With high street grooming closed, we are noticing groomers are modifying their vans with permanent fixtures such as grooming tables and mini-power showers to cater for bedraggled pups and over-fluffed felines. We’re also seeing an increase in veterinary ambulances to help carry unwell or injured animals in safety and comfort to and from the vets, or further afield to specialist animal hospitals. 

External home cleaning and maintenance

When people spend more time in their homes, they tend to notice more and more household chores that need addressing. Dirty windows in the study won’t go unignored. Blocked drains or broken roof tiles become ongoing irritations. All of a sudden, the driveway looks in need of a good power wash.

We’re seeing sustained growth in vans with built-in water tanks and pressurised washers to meet these household needs, as well as former commercial contract cleaners shifting into residential work given the lack of demand for external office cleaning.

Mobile out of home advertising

The drop-off in high street footfall has not only affected in-store sales, but it has made it harder for businesses to advertise to passing consumers. As a consequence, we’re seeing demand for exhibition vehicles that support mobile OOH advertising.

Equipped with vehicle-mounted billboards, these businesses can drive around locally to promote their services, or even park up at spots where they’re more likely to guarantee more eyeballs for their ad.

Modified classics for commercial use

During the lockdown, we’ve seen an upsurge in hobbyists and car enthusiasts modifying classic vehicles for commercial use – mainly catering – to help them stand out from the crowd once people are back out on the high street. 

Being served ice cream from a modified Rolls Royce is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry, and we’re expecting to see more of these modified classics and specialist commercial vehicles surfacing as lockdown restrictions ease.

Car servicing

With auto garages only open for essential repairs and services, we’re seeing more garages offering mobile servicing outside customers’ homes. 

Using modified vans with built-in tools and equipment these mechanics can deliver essential car maintenance such as wheel alignment and tyre checks, vital given the number of vehicles that have seen long periods of inactivity in the past year.

Specialist vehicles require a specialist understanding

When society is changing fast, the mainstream motor insurance market often struggles to keep the pace because conventional products are designed for quick online sales covering vanilla risks, not bespoke modified vehicles. 

In contrast, our SCV product has been designed with flexibility in mind, making it a much better fit for the current surge in mobile commercial business growth. It’s an opportunity that every broker should consider given that demand for motor insurance and standard products remains low. And, in recognition that many of these entrepreneurial mobile businesses will come into their own once the pandemic recedes, we’re extending our fire and theft laid up cover to new clients as well as existing customers. 

SCV includes seven different categories to serve a plethora of use cases, all of which are available via our eTrade portal. By taking the time to understand each trade, we can price these risks correctly and ensure no SCV owner is left without a fair quote. 

Trade our SCV product online with ERS eTrade or if you’d like to chat more about a particular risk, contact a member of the team today: commercialquotes@ers.com 

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