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Taxi passenger liability risks

October 7, 2020

Customers in your taxi are the lifeblood of your business, but they can also be one of your greatest hazards. Whether you drive a taxi, black cab or any other public or private hire vehicle, you must reconcile your job transporting passengers with the accompanying liability.

Constantly servicing and interacting with passengers exposes you to liability every single day. Add the possibility of road traffic accidents to your public liability exposure, and your job’s risks compound exponentially. Cap your growing liability exposure by identifying your risks and using strategies to combat them.

Liability Risks

The most obvious risk for public and private hire drivers is road traffic accidents—you are on the road every day for work, striving to deliver your passengers as quickly as possible while surrounded by unpredictable drivers. While many drivers are aware of their risks on the road, which are typically covered by their required motor policy, most are unaware of their public liability risks off the road.

Public liability risks can be as damaging to your business as road traffic risks—maybe even more so since drivers tend to dismiss public liability in favour of focusing on the more obvious liability from road traffic. Many drivers also wrongly assume that their motor policy covers all their liability.

The following is a small selection of public liability risks:

  • Damaging customers’ property when carrying it. When transporting passengers with luggage or property of any kind, you may be asked to help carry something inside their home or to your vehicle. A small slip or trip could cause you to accidentally drop and damage customers’ property, for which you could be held liable.
  • Causing passengers to fall down. Anytime passengers need help getting into and out of your vehicle—particularly those who are elderly or infirm—you could be held liable for any injury or damage that befalls them. For instance, if you help a disabled person out of the vehicle, you may inadvertently cause him or her to fall and injure him- or herself.
  • Damaging property in customers’ homes. Going inside customers’ home to collect your fare or assist with luggage exposes you to the possibility of damaging their property.
  • Injuring visitors on your business’ premises. If your business has premises where customers wait for their car to arrive, the business may be liable for any injuries or damage the visitors sustain. Some car hire businesses may offer visitors a drink or snack while they wait, which introduces even more risk.

A significant portion of your public liability stems from helping passengers outside of your vehicle. Most motor policies offer only limited cover with respect to liability during loading and unloading your vehicle. A public liability policy is usually necessary to cover the exposure left by the average motor policy.

However, be cautious—insurers vary in their interpretations of where loading and unloading starts and when public liability policies take effect. Make sure you know how your insurer defines loading and unloading to ensure you have the best public liability policy that leaves no gaps in your cover. It is usually easiest to secure a motor policy and public liability policy from the same insurer to ensure no cover gaps expose you to risk.

Limiting Your Liability

Shrinking your public liability exposure is a constant battle. The tips below are just some of the many things you can do every day to keep your passengers safe and your risks low.

  • Inspect your vehicle before and after your shift to ensure it is in proper working order and that you cannot be held responsible for an accident caused by poor vehicle maintenance.
  • Ensure you are carrying emergency supplies such as a first-aid kit and a torch.
  • Monitor gauges while driving for any signs of trouble.
  • Explain health and safety rules to passengers straight away before departing.
  • Ask passengers if they are seated and ready before pulling away—allow them enough time to get comfortable.
  • Supervise passengers while driving. Keep your main focus on the road, but do not completely neglect your customers.
  • Start and stop as smoothly as possible to avoid causing whiplash injuries.
  • Never engage in unnecessary conversation with passengers or engage in other distracting activities such as eating or changing the radio station.
  • Caution passengers to be careful of any hazards as they exit.
  • Remind passengers of any property they may potentially leave behind.

Bespoke Is Best

As a public or private driver for hire, you face a steady stream of customers and hazards every day. Securing a comprehensive public liability policy is the most effective way to slow the barrage of hazards while keeping your flow of customers moving.

The insurance professionals at insureTAXI can tailor a policy that fits your needs, ensuring seamless cover between your motor and liability policies. Contact us today at 01704 808688 for more information on the risks you face and how we can eliminate them. If you require a quote, please fill in our online quote form.