With the NHS and the emergency services stretched to the hilt and the need for vaccine deliveries paramount, now could be the time to transition your private hire taxi business to offer courier services.
If you are thinking of transporting urgent medical supplies to care homes, clinics and health centres, you will need specialist training, together with an update of your private hire taxi insurance to make sure you are fully covered for the courier business. Here is some advice on the type of training and courier insurance you will need.
Taxi Trips to Vaccinations
As the rollout of the UK vaccine programme is in full swing, the emphasis is now focussed on transport services. Private and public hire taxi owners, together with courier drivers, are all essential in ensuring the timely delivery of people and goods to and from approved vaccination centres.
Already, several taxi companies have stepped up to the plate in the movement of people. In London, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents the capital’s taxi drivers, has offered to drive elderly and vulnerable patients to and from medical centres to help the government reach its target of offering the vaccine to 15m people by mid-February.
Free Now, a ride-hailing app for black cabs and minicabs that operates in nine cities in the UK, has also written to ministers to offer logistical help and push for drivers to be given priority access to the vaccines.
Whist similar schemes are being run up and down the country in Cabs for Jabs, Dragon Taxis has extended its offer of free rides to help roll out the Covid-19 vaccine to elderly and vulnerable people in Cardiff. Crowdfunding schemes such as GoFundMe taxi programmes are also operating.
Becoming a Medical Courier
So far, so good on the people front with taxis being front and centre in the race to vaccinate the population. But with the NHS at full stretch and the emergency services and armed forces now involved in the programme, what help could the taxi and courier sector play in the transport of vital supplies and equipment?
As you might expect, it’s a bit more complicated than just throwing a couple of boxes of PPE or vaccine vials in the back of your vehicle and off you go. For example, the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at a temperature of around -70C and needs to be transported in a special box packed with dry ice and installed with GPS trackers. It’s a complicated and rigorously licensed profession that just can’t be taken lightly.
To start off, you’ll need the appropriate courier insurance designed to protect you against the unique risks you face. This includes:
- Making numerous stops during a single trip
- High amounts of daily mileage
- A collection of cargo types of different values
Courier insurance should also include public liability, employers’ liability and a wide range of different cover types to protect you against every contingency. Add to that the all-important Goods in Transit insurance which covers items from theft, loss or damage while they are being transported by your vehicle from one place to another in the course of business.
The Qualifications You’ll Need
The appropriate qualifications you’ll need to transport such sensitive cargoes come under ADR Level 6, training.
ADR training covers hazardous materials handling and transportation of toxic substances which are liable to cause death or serious injury to human health if inhaled, swallowed or by skin absorption. The acronym 'ADR' comes from the French ‘Accord European Relatif au Transport International des Marchandises Dangereuses par Route’.
All drivers of vehicles carrying such potentially hazardous goods must attend an approved basic training course and your vehicle needs to be ADR compliant - specially designed or modified to carry medical samples and supplies and must be equipped with approved Biohazard Spill Kits.
There are approved ADR training centres up and down the country where you can get specialised training and accreditation. But the courses are not cheap, and you should seriously consider whether it’s a path you ultimately want to go down.
However, there are a whole host of specialist medical courier companies currently recruiting drivers. These all offer the appropriate training and support for medical and pharmaceutical couriers and run their own specially adapted fleets. They are also under contracts with local and national suppliers.
If you are looking to pivot your taxi business or add extra services, please check with your insurance broker for the additional coverage you may need.
For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-taxis-and-phvs