Uber have successfully challenged the TfL’s requirement for private hire drivers to hold hire and reward insurance through the duration of their vehicle’s licence period.
The regulator hastily introduced the rule on July 11th last year for existing licence holders without consulting the insurance industry.
At Plan we don’t actually think the outcome will have a massive impact. This is because TfL’s measure had proved ineffective due to their limited ability to enforce it.
Can I get on/off cover?
The judge found in Uber’s favour after they argued that drivers should not be forced to hold private hire insurance during periods when the vehicle is being driven for personal use or not being utilised at all.
Plan immediately received a large number of enquiries from black cab drivers asking whether they can have “on/off cover?”
The cabbies were referring to Leon Daniels’ incorrect use of the term “on/off cover” whilst addressing a London Assembly meeting. At the time TfL’s MD displayed a worrying lack of knowledge and used the wrong terminology. TfL have subsequently confirmed he was referring to drivers using monthly policies on an occasional basis.
As far as we’re aware no hire and reward insurance provider is currently offering a policy that charges only for mileage covered when a passenger is on board. Though we do know that moped drivers for Deliveroo are able to obtain courier insurance for a set period of time when they are delivering a package.
The rate for this is 65p per hour. Based on an 8 hour day a moped driver working 5 days a week would be paying £1352 per year for their courier insurance.
In reality there a number of reasons why “on/off cover” would work out more expensive and time consuming for the vast majority of professional drivers. The main one being it would prevent drivers accumulating transferable no claims bonus which can amount to a 65% discount.
Any driver that is committed to the industry on a permanent, full time basis will still find an annual contract far more cost effective. We also tend to find that most drivers don’t even like to think about insurance once a year, let alone every hour.
If “on/off cover” did become available it would perhaps be suited to older professional drivers looking to work very few hours. It might also suit private hire drivers who are looking to test how successful working in their part-time might be.
However, with the various additional costs such as licencing, vehicle hire and the English language test, the barriers to entry are mounting up for this type of speculative entry into private hire.
TfL must improve their systems for detecting uninsured drivers
The only negative impact TfL’s ruling had for individual private drivers was to make those that used to go for extended holidays or take longer breaks from driving renew their monthly policy when they weren’t using their vehicle.
Though these drivers would have been best advised to take out an annual policy and spread the cost on direct debit as this will allow the potential build-up of no claims bonus. TfL may now go all the way and ban monthly policies all together.
In our opinion the main impact of the ruling will be to place a greater emphasis on TfL to monitor drivers’ insurance policies throughout the duration of their vehicle’s licence. TfL had already planned to increase their compliance officers from 80 to over 300. However we believe that in the modern world the most effective method would be for them to improve their technology.
Readers of our blog will be well aware that we have been lobbying TfL to create an online taxi and private hire insurance portal.
We think it would be far wiser and more worthwhile for TfL to invest the money that is being spent on employing their new officers, in the development of a simple system that automatically notifies their team when a licenced driver’s hire and reward cover terminates.
Then and only then will it be possible to remove uninsured or inadequately covered vehicles from London’s roads.