Plan Insurance Blog

Cabbies Are Unknowingly Buying ‘Unfit For Use’ Second-hand Black Cabs

In a recent statement to LTDA members, General Secretary, Steve McNamara, said: “there has been a record number of new cabs sold and correspondingly, a high number of older cabs changing hands. Unfortunately, several cabbies, who were not members, bought cabs, one knowingly and one not, that had previously been written off by insurance companies and subsequently repaired.”

This is a worrying bit of news from an already-struggling industry.

This time last year, we reported that the number of licensed black cab vehicles in London had dropped by over 5,000 since the pandemic began. This brought the overall number down from 18,504 to 13,423. This is the most dramatic change in the numbers in history.

Now, there is news of cabbies trying to get back in the game, only to have the plans backfire.

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What is going on?

It seems insurance firms have written off the cabs for various reasons but they are then repaired and sold for re-licensing.

McNamara continued: “Both of these vehicles, when presented for licensing at NSL, were refused a licence on the grounds that the vehicle was ‘unsafe’ to be used as a licensed taxi.

The advise to those considering buying a second-hand taxi that is not currently licensed or is licensed outside of London is to carry out thotough checks before handing over their hard-earned cash. Running a HPI search on the potential taxi purchase will let you know if there is an issue like damage or outstanding finance.

Why would a cab be ‘written off’?

In the past, there were levels of insurance write-offs: Cat A, B, C and D. More recently, C and D have been replaced with ‘S’ and ‘N’. This made it easier to identify the reasons that the car had to be written off.

  • S stands for ‘Structurally damaged and repairable’.
  • N stands for ‘Non-structurally damaged repairable’.

It seems unclear at the moment if the black cab licensing body is specifically refusing to accept all or specific types of previously written off vehicles. Many believe that if a vehicle has been repaired and gone through a new MOT and also made to have an SVA, then it should be safe. If not, then it shouldn’t be on the road regardless of it being a Taxi or PHV.

A word from our sales director Dan Severin: “I could understand a Cat S car being rejected as a result of structural damage, but a Cat N just means the insurer found it easier to pay the policyholder for a new car rather than repair it.”

With repair costs increasing daily, thanks to delays in the supply of parts, we are likely to be seeing more and more Cat N write-offs.

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