No matter how many years you’ve been in the taxi business, when it comes to protecting yourself against risks, you’re never too old to learn something new. And public liability risks can certainly be rather bewildering. Particularly in the ever-changing world of 2022! That’s why knowing the ins and outs of this area and how to protect yourself are well worth the effort. So, read this go-to guide and get informed today.

As a professional driver, you’ll be used to dealing with the general public on a daily basis. And while you know there are significant risks to this, you can feel protected by your taxi insurance up to a point.

Taxi cover mainly protects you from damage and personal injury resulting from traffic accidents, theft, and fire. Basically, it’s designed to protect you and your car. And in the case of traffic accidents, it also provides coverage for your passengers.

However, that leaves many other circumstances where you might not be covered in respect of legal claims. For example, what happens if your passenger suffers an allergic reaction to something in your cab? Or you trap their hand in the door while you’re helping them out? Your taxi driving dreams could well turn into a nightmare! That’s where public liability insurance comes in.

This ultimate go-to guide is packed full of information to get you up to speed on this tricky area. We’ve got guidance on how to spot public liability risks and what public liability insurance could do for you, as well as tips on how to protect yourself against such claims.

 

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Contents

Chapter 1: How to spot public liability risks

Chapter 2: Getting to know public liability insurance

Chapter 3: Don’t let public liability risks get in the way of business growth

Chapter 4: Working out how much public liability insurance you need

Chapter 5: Protect your business in 2022 – what to watch out for

Chapter 6: Tips to protect yourself against public liability risks

 

Chapter 1: How to spot public liability risks

If you ask any taxi or PHV driver to list the most obvious risk they encounter while working, most will say road traffic accidents. After all, you’re on the road every day of the week for countless numbers of hours, trying to get your passengers to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible while surrounded by unpredictable drivers. Accidents are bound to happen and are often seen as an occupational hazard.

As an experienced driver, you’ll have an excellent awareness of the risks on the road. From speeding drivers and adverse weather conditions to potholes and wandering wildlife, you’re always on the lookout for hazards that could cause an accident. And many of these will typically be covered by your taxi insurance.

However, you might not be so aware of public liability risks lurking just off the road. Unfortunately, public liability risks can be as harmful to the health of your business as road traffic accidents.

In fact, they can be even more harmful because drivers tend to ignore them in favour of more obvious road traffic risks.

Need convincing? Here’s just a small selection of public liability risks you could be encountering on a daily basis. Remember, the consequences of any one of these could put a serious dent in your business.

  • You’re helpfully carrying a passenger’s luggage when you drop and damage it. When someone is older or looks like they need an extra pair of hands many taxi drivers are only too happy to help them out. Whether carrying something into their home, or even just to the side of the street, public liability can arise. A simple slip or trip could not only cause you injury but also make you accidentally drop and damage their property. Drivers don’t usually ask exactly what it is they’re carrying before offering to help. But if it’s something very valuable you could be held liable for a large amount.
  • You accidentally trip a passenger. Another helpful service you might perform is to help a passenger get into or out of your vehicle. When a customer is elderly, disabled or clearly struggling, it’s human nature to want to help. But what happens if you inadvertently cause him or her to fall and injure themselves? Such personal injury claims can get very expensive.
  • A customer is injured while waiting on your business premises. Some taxi companies have areas where customers are able to sit and wait for their car to arrive. If they suffer injuries or damage while waiting then you might be glad of public liability insurance. And what about if they suffer a nasty reaction to a drink or snack they were offered while waiting? You guessed it, yet more public liability risk!
  • You drop a child off at a school but they are hit by a car while crossing the road. But did you know that taxi drivers who regularly take children to school are responsible for the child until care has been handed over to the school? Even if it’s just for a short time, an accident could occur for which you are liable.

As you can see, a large part of your exposure to public liability risks stems from helping passengers outside of your vehicle. However, most taxi insurance policies offer only limited cover with respect to liability during loading and unloading. That’s why you should make sure any policy you take out also includes public liability cover.

But bear in mind insurers do vary in where simply loading and unloading ends and when public liability policies take over. It’s vital to speak to your insurer and find this out. You’ll want a public liability policy that leaves no gaps in your coverage. Read your documents carefully to see what is and isn’t covered.

 

Chapter 2: Getting to know public liability insurance

You might know your way around taxi insurance, but can the same be said for public liability cover? Public liability cover is often added to your standard policy. It’s available for taxi businesses of all sizes across many different markets. It aims to cover you if a passenger or other member of the public claims they have been injured, or their property damaged, by you or while on your property.

When such claims become legal matters then you’ll want your business to be protected. Legal proceedings can get very expensive to defend against. And if your business is found to be responsible, you’ll want a policy that covers any compensation the court orders you to pay.

While claims of public liability can arise in many different circumstances, often alleged negligence on your part is the main trigger. They might claim you let them out in an unsafe place and they tripped and fell. Or they hurt themselves on something carelessly left in the back of your vehicle by another passenger.

It can also cover claims of property damage. For instance, you have to make an emergency stop because a bike pulls out in front of you. A passenger’s expensive laptop is thrown onto the floor of the cab and is smashed. Would your current policy cover the damage?

Public liability cover ensures you’re protected in these circumstances and offers business owners something different to other insurance types.

For example, employers’ liability insurance is useful if you employ drivers and covers you specifically for claims from them.

That’s why it’s important to choose a specialist taxi insurance provider who has experience of covering a range of risks that a business like yours might encounter.

 

Chapter 3: Don’t let public liability risks get in the way of business growth

It’s also worth noting that some local authorities and other organisations might require you to have a certain level of public liability insurance in place before they’ll do business with you.

For example, perhaps you’ve developed a specialism in school or social care transport.  This can be a very lucrative and fulfilling way to expand your taxi business. But if there’s an accident involving a person in your care then you could be found liable.

If you deal with council or local authority contracts then you’ll often be required to have public liability insurance in order to protect yourself, your business and passengers in the event of an incident. Be aware standard taxi insurance might not be enough to protect you.

So, not only does such a policy protect you from mistakes you may make when working – it could also help you create new opportunities for business success.

 

Chapter 4: Working out how much public liability insurance you need

Just as with everything in business, the cost of public liability insurance can vary greatly due to the diverse nature of taxi businesses and the types of market your firm operates in. It’s not compulsory for every taxi firm to have a public liability policy. So, whether you arrange it and, if so, how much cover you take out is a business decision for you to make.

A useful process to work out how much cover your taxi business needs is to consider what potential compensation claims there could be.

The amount of cover you require will depend on a range of factors such as:

  • Size of business. If you’ve got a whole fleet of vehicles then the risk of a public liability claim happening will go up.
  • Level of interaction with the public. Do members of the public come onto your business premises? Perhaps you specialise in a small number of large corporate clients. Or do most customers flag you down on the street?
  • Size of contracts. What kinds of responsibilities do you have? If you’re working for a council or local authority delivering on large transport contracts then public liability insurance is a must.
  • Claims history. If you’ve had a number of unfortunate accidents in the past then it may push up premiums.
  • Level of risk. A driver working late night city shifts might be more of a risk than someone working in a small town during the day.

Personal injury lawyers often refer to Judicial College compensation guidelines when assessing claims and estimating how much compensation could be claimed. For example, in 2021 even a minor hand injury could lead to damages ranging from £737 to £3,460.

 

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Chapter 5: Protect your business in 2022 – what to watch out for

You’ll have probably come across plenty of instances of public liability risks over the years. But is there anything specific you need to watch out for in 2022? Let’s take a look.

Insurance fraud

With the Insurance Fraud Bureau warning that at least one insurance scam takes place every minute in the UK, 2022 could be another big year for fraudulent claims. Unfortunately taxi drivers and other road users are often the unwitting victims of these.

Responsible for over 170,000 insurance claims over the past two years alone, so-called ‘crash for cash’ scams can have a big effect on a taxi driver’s driving confidence and business. One of the most dangerous forms of the scam is where criminals deliberately stage an accident with an innocent driver’s car.

With such dangerous activities on the roads, it’s vital to have as comprehensive insurance coverage as possible in 2022.

Another unfortunate consequence of these insurance frauds is that innocent drivers can come under suspicion. In one such case, a taxi driver was cleared of fraud and awarded more than £28,000 in compensation for his injuries and damage to his vehicle.

E-scooters

Anyone driving through the UK’s major cities of late will no doubt have seen someone whizzing along on an e-scooter. With e-scooters becoming so popular throughout the UK it’s important you know all about them and the potential problems they could cause you. After all, what would be the situation if a passenger was hit by one when alighting from your vehicle?

There have been calls for greater regulation and even compulsory public liability insurance for users of e-scooters. But the best thing you can do is stay aware and ensure you’re covered for any eventuality.

Electric vehicles

Taxi businesses are rapidly replacing their diesel- and petrol-powered fleets with electric vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint. But when doing so you’ll need to take into account specific risks of electric vehicles. While also making sure your insurance provider is keeping pace with your changing risk exposure.

Not only can there be higher costs for repair and the need for extra training for how drivers can get the best out of these new vehicles. There can be hidden additional risks, too. For example, what happens if someone trips on your taxi’s charging cable?

 

Chapter 6: Tips to protect yourself against public liability risks

As well as having public liability insurance as part of your taxi cover, you’ll also want to reduce your exposure to such risks in the first place. Why not try some of these tips to reduce your risk?

Keep your vehicle in tip-top shape

Every taxi driver knows a business is only as good as the vehicle you drive. From luxury cars used for executive travel to mini-buses used to ferry stag parties, it makes good business and safety sense to have your vehicle maintained and serviced regularly.

By inspecting your vehicle both before and after your shift you’ll not only know it’s 100% roadworthy. It also means you’ll be less likely to be held responsible for damage or injury caused by poor vehicle maintenance.

Install CCTV and telematics in your car

Modern telematics systems have come a long way in recent years. If you have CCTV installed then the systems can be linked to give your insurer the full picture of any incident. Hopefully saving you from unfair or unnecessary claims. Indeed, such systems can easily disprove potentially fraudulent public liability claims.

Assess potential customers

Passengers who are acting aggressively, erratically or who appear intoxicated could be more likely to cause you public liability problems.

Explain any potential risks

If there are any particular health and safety rules in your cab, explain them to passengers straight away.

Think about your working hours

Working late at night can be lucrative, but it’s also risky. For example, drunk passengers can be a danger to both you and themselves. Not all passengers will cause you problems, but you’ll need to decide if it’s worth the potential hassle.

Pay close attention

Whatever the time of day, make sure you’re never too tired to drive. If you want to avoid risks then you always need to be alert to what’s going on around you. Distractions such as unnecessary chatter with passengers or fiddling with the radio or a handheld device can lead to problems.

Everyone needs to buckle up

By insisting all passengers wear their seatbelts at all times you’ll reduce your exposure to risks of injury. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of asking passengers if they’re seated and ready before pulling away. Allowing them enough time to get comfortable could avoid future headaches.

Keep an eye on passengers

Not only is it safer for you to have passengers sit where you can see them, but it also means you’re aware of any problems as soon as they occur. Obviously keep your attention firmly on the road, but don’t neglect your passengers completely.

Consider weather conditions

Ice, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can be extremely hazardous both on the roads and when your passengers leave your car. Always keep an eye on the weather.

Start and stop smoothly

Sudden starts and stops can lead to injury to your passengers or damage to their belongings. If you’re driving a new electric vehicle the acceleration can be more sudden than you’re used to. If you’re unfamiliar with driving an electric vehicle it might be worth some practice before you let passengers aboard.

Take extra care when dropping off your customers

It’s wise to warn passengers to be extra careful of any hazards as they exit your vehicle. A timely warning could even save their life!

Also remind passengers of any property they may have left behind. If it goes missing then you might get the blame!

Be prepared for anything

Ensure you are carrying a first-aid kit and know how to use it.

Get taxi insurance with public liability cover included

Liability claims are expensive, so it’s vital you have coverage in place to protect yourself. This tip will save you the most money and hassle in the long-run.

Notify your insurance company and cooperate

If an accident happens and you think you could be at risk of a claim then notify your insurance company as quickly as possible.

So that’s the ultimate go-to guide to protecting yourself from public liability risks in 2022.

With the driving environment changing all the time, there are always possible tweaks that need to be made to this guide. If you’re arranging taxi insurance and discover something interesting, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know what you’ve found out so we can share the insight!

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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