The private hire vehicle taxi business remains a buoyant facet of the transport sector in the UK with uptake on the rise year upon year. For part-time drivers it can be a particularly lucrative method of earning extra income, whilst full time operators report that the market has never been more confident.
For those of you considering starting out in the private hire taxi business, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not just a case of sticking a ‘for hire’ sign on the roof of your 10 year old Mondeo or installing a two way radio. There are stringent rules and regulations involved in the private hire taxi business designed to protect you and your passengers. Ignore them at your peril.
Here we present a quick guide to starting up in the private hire taxi business, including your taxi insurance requirements and registration responsibilities.
Private vs Public Hire
Stats on taxi and private hire vehicles in England show that by the end of March 2019 there were 291,800 licensed taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs). Of these, 76% of all licensed vehicles were private hire and a staggering 63% of licences were private hire only.
Different considerations apply between conventional public hire or ‘hackney’ taxis and private hires. Public taxis can be hailed on the street and at a rank by the customer dealing directly with the driver.
PHVs, or minicabs, must be booked in advance before picking up passengers, usually linked by radio control.
Being a PHV driver gives you flexibility whereby you can choose how often, where and when you work, which could include late nights and weekends. Those anti-social hours could well pay off because according to the National Career Service, you can earn up to £30,000 as a seasoned driver.
Getting Your Taxi Licence
Make sure to draw up a thorough business plan detailing the market you’re entering and expected start-up and ongoing costs, including buying a cab, GPS software, radio equipment and petrol (you may want to consider finding out more about fuel cards). Included within this will also be your potential earnings - the amount you will charge for fares to ensure profitability, etc.
To be eligible for a taxi licence in the UK you must hold a full driving licence, have the right to live and work in the UK, undertake a DBS check and a medical examination to meet the DVLA Group 2 medical standards.
You can use practically any car as a PHV but there are still a number of aspects to make sure you’ve got the right vehicle for the job. Some local councils like PHVs to have a certain seat width or engine size. In London and many other UK city locations, you will have to conform to emissions standards. And naturally, the car will also have to be deemed safe.
Public Liability Insurance – What Does It Cover?
Private hire vehicle public liability insurance policy will protect you from claims made by third parties for injuries to the person, or damage to property caused as a result of your business activities.
A typical policy will pay for the cost of putting right any damage, or medical fees in the case of injuries, and will also cover the legal costs representing your business, related expenses, and any damages your business is found to owe in relation to a claim.
You should also look at personal accident insurance, also known as personal injury insurance, which will pay compensation if you suffer from a serious injury or death as a result of an accident during your taxi driving. It will help to protect you and your family against the loss of income, together with other expenses.
Windscreen cover will often come as standard on a taxi insurance policy and should be considered to keep your business on the road as much as possible. A good insurance broker will be able to advise on the essential cover you need to get you up and running.