Handl Group launches new credit hire business, Kirsty McKno to lead

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Handl Group is launching a new credit hire business that will aim to improve access to mobility for customers following an accident and remove much of the friction that has blighted relations between insurers and credit hire companies.

The new business, called Cogent Hire, will be led by newly appointed managing director Kirsty McKno, who stepped down as chair of credit hire trade body The CHO at the end of 2020. She has worked with handl Group to build Cogent Hire from scratch.

McKno said the new company is future-proofed for upcoming changes in vehicle claims management following the UK government’s personal injury reforms, including the launch of the new small claims portal in May and the expected response to Part II of the Ministry of Justice’s Whiplash Consultation, which directly affects credit hire.

The Cogent Hire team is already working with a number of insurers under confidentiality agreements and aims to make the business a pioneer for credit hire.  

Cogent Hire will partner with Europcar UK to source vehicles and also has a number of strategic alliances in place, including with Hills for salvage, Verius and the Cotswold Group on counter fraud measures, and fellow handl Group company Claimspace for dealing with disputed claims.

McKno explained that Cogent Hire will reduce friction and improve the customer experience by working cooperatively with insurers: “Cogent Hire’s number one priority is to work with insurer partners to remove the causes of friction within a credit hire claim, for example, through our transparent charging structure where we agree up front with insurer partners what and how we charge, so that nothing is hidden.” 

“Insurers dealing with Cogent Hire will see a number of changes to traditional credit hire, including fraud checks before and during hire, standard handling fees, transparent hire rates and a partnership approach to repairs. By removing hidden extras, Cogent Hire will reduce the average credit hire bill by at least 25%.” 

McKno added: “The customer experience will be improved through the use of AI-based technology that enables our team to treat people like people, rather than policy numbers, so that from the first contact they are provided with the right solution for them.” 

“Our partnership with Europcar will enable the fast deployment of the right vehicle, including electric and specialist commercial vehicles, to keep them and their businesses on the road. Tech-based triage tools will ensure that Europcar vehicles are tracked correctly, hire periods are minimised and customers are able to quickly get back to their normal lives.” 

James Roberts, business development director for insurance at Europcar UK, said: “We are delighted to be appointed sole supplier and confident that Cogent Hire will very quickly become a challenger brand in the credit hire space.” 

Handl Group company Claimspace will supply alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services for disputed cases, to avoid going to court. McKno said: “For Cogent Hire, litigated cases are a mark of failure, especially when faced with year-long delays in civil court cases as a result of the pandemic.”

‘The value of collaboration’

McKno went on to explain that the impetus to join handl Group to develop Cogent Hire came during her tenure as chair at the The CHO and her subsequent work with insurers to continue to help people with their mobility needs during the lockdown.

She said: “The pandemic underlined the value of collaboration. I have long believed that the conflict and tribalism that has characterised the credit hire industry’s relationship with insurers for decades doesn’t help customers.”

“Credit hire should be about making sure customers are back on the road as soon as possible, and their claim is settled with a minimum of disruption for our clients. That is the rationale for Cogent Hire in a nutshell.”

Commenting on the launch, handl Group chief commercial officer Chris Chatterton said: “We started with a blank sheet of paper and asked insurers what ‘good’ looked like in credit hire. Nobody we spoke to thought the current market was working for customers or the industry, despite the government’s reform programme giving every incentive to reboot credit hire for the 2020s.”

“We felt there was a great opportunity to bring Kirsty on board and apply handl Group’s core philosophy of people and technology working collaboratively across both the defendant and claimant side.”

Chief executive officer Graham Pulford added: “We are the natural home for a progressive credit hire company and we are confident that Cogent Hire will be very attractive to insurers seeking a new way to manage post-accident mobility for both fault and non-fault customers.”

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk