ARAG issues 'perfect storm' breakdown warning amid ongoing pingdemic

A combination of staycationers, the ongoing 'pingdemic' and incoming warmer weather could create a perfect storm for vehicle breakdowns over the coming weeks, according to legal and breakdown assistance organisation, ARAG.

The number of breakdowns reported to the firm's claims handlers in the week immediately before restrictions were lifted (week commencing July 12th) was 40% higher than in 2019.

While the number of new COVID-19 cases in the UK has declined since its recent peak in mid-July, the number of workers forced to isolate after being pinged by the government's Test and Trace app, has impacted breakdown operators in a similar way to other sectors.

At the same time, the number of holidaymakers staying in the UK and using roads for either day-trips or longer breaks to popular tourist areas, like Cornwall and the Lake District has soared.

ARAG has also warned that exceptionally high demand for hire cars and hotel rooms in the UK, may also impact motorists breaking down over the next few weeks, adding that some vehicles may be more vulnerable if they have not been used much since the start of the pandemic or if they are stuck in traffic in hot weather.

"We've taken measures to ensure the service of our motor breakdown operation," comments head of claims at ARAG, Chris Millward, "But all drivers need to be prepared for a breakdown, especially on particularly busy days and in hot weather.

"There are only so many recovery vehicles in the UK and the number of operators isolating has reduced capacity for some providers. This could leave some unfortunate motorists waiting a long-time for recovery or roadside repair, particularly if they don't have a motor breakdown policy and have to arrange a callout themselves.

"We've done a lot of work to ensure that ARAG continues to deliver an outstanding service to our motor breakdown policyholders over the coming weeks. Some providers are likely to be stretched though, and drivers would be wise to make sure they are well-equipped and prepared before embarking on long journeys."

Commenting on the ongoing pingdemic, CBI president, Lord Bilimoria said what is needed is mass testing, not mass self-isolation.

“It’s good to see a steep fall in those having to self-isolate, but this doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. The latest numbers remain too high and illustrate the frustration facing firms as existing staff shortages are exacerbated by unnecessary self-isolation. Amending the app is a welcome recognition of the problem but won’t provide the solution.

“What’s needed is a three-pronged approach to creating confidence in helping people to live with the virus.

“This starts with mass testing – not mass self-isolation – which remains key to keeping the economy open. With immediate effect the government should bring forward a test and release scheme – for people double-jabbed and for those who have not been – to end unnecessary self-isolation and unnecessary business disruption. A recent Oxford University study of 200,000 children and 20,000 staff has proven the effectiveness of test and release.

“Next, maintain COVID-secure workplace restrictions and safety measures, including hygiene and ventilation, to keep employees and customers safe. This means mandatory guidance for face coverings in certain close contact settings. And if domestic vaccine passports are to be introduced, close coordination with business on design and implementation will be critical for getting the rollout right first time.

“Finally, we must maximise our world-beating vaccine programme by increasing take up wherever possible; delivering an autumn booster programme while super-charging the therapeutics taskforce, to identify, trial and deploy new treatments.”

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