If you are great with your customer service skills and enjoy daily driving, becoming a chauffeur could be the ideal career move. Chauffeuring not only gives you the opportunity to drive luxury cars, but you also get to explore many different locations and meet a variety of different people every day.
Before starting out on your new venture, there are some steps you will need to take including making sure you have the right skills, the necessary licences and a good chauffeur insurance policy in place.
In this article we will look at how to get started in chauffeuring, as well as the chauffeur insurance you will need to keep you and your business fully covered.
What is a Chauffeur?
A chauffeur is a professional driver who is responsible for transporting clients from their pick-up location to a chosen destination. It is usual for a chauffeur to work for a single company, such as a limousine hire company, or set up on their own. This can also include more high-end agencies where clients might include CEOs, celebrities or public figures.
You can also become a private chauffeur where you would work solely for a private household, such as a family or just one principal. This doesn’t mean just them as it could include driving around visitors or relatives, but in general the employer is the household.
Is Chauffeuring Right For Me?
To work as a chauffeur, you will need to ensure you can deliver your clients to their destination both safely and in a timely manner. It is likely you will need to assist them with carrying their luggage and also be responsible for keeping the limousine or vehicle clean and well maintained.
Other chauffeuring duties may include opening and closing the door for passengers, assisting them in alighting the vehicle if needed and ensuring the comfort of clients at all times. You may also sometimes need to collect other passengers or items on a client’s request.
You must really enjoy driving. Your time will largely be spent behind the wheel and if you are bored or frustrated, this will come across to your clients.
Here are some key qualities you will need for a career as a successful chauffeur:
Excellent time-management skills: paying clients will quite rightly expect to arrive at their destination on time. Being good at time management is essential for a chauffeur so setting off a little earlier for new destinations and having some digital management tools can help you to fulfil your corporate obligations. Knowledge of the best routes to avoid traffic, locating the nearest parking spots and keeping within the mileage requirements are all part of keeping client’s happy.
Keeping a professional outlook: As a chauffeur, acting professionally is more likely to see you rewarded with some of the more high-end assignments. Professional means arriving on time, dressing smartly and knowing how to greet clients in a friendly and welcoming manner.
You will need to maintain a professional attitude to your work all of the time. Personal or private issues cannot be allowed to affect your driving. The minute you ‘clock on’, you will need to adhere to the standard industry or company etiquette.
Having patience: As well as the obvious downsides of chauffeuring, that of being stuck in traffic jams often more than you would like, it can also mean running clients around for many meetings and errands during the day. This can also mean a lot of time spent in the car waiting for them finish what they need to do. Finding something to do while you are waiting can help to relieve the boredom or any frustration. Invest in books, listen to soothing music or podcasts which may help the time to pass more quickly and make your day more interesting.
Remaining discreet: If you work with celebrities, parliamentarians or any other public figures, you will need to remain discreet if you want to retain clients and your job. It is likely you will spend many hours with your clients and discussions could turn to professional or personal matters. Keeping all the information to yourself is an essential element of the work of chauffeuring. Gossiping will highly likely lose their business and could even lead to legal challenges if you said anything libellous.
How Do I Become a Chauffeur?
The first thing you will need to sort out is obtaining a private hire permit or licence. The conditions of this qualification will vary from different borough councils but the fundamental guidelines tend to be similar.
Currently, any person running a business which hires out vehicles with a driver who is carrying up to eight passengers per vehicle, is considered to be a private hire operator and their drivers and vehicles are private hire drivers and private hire vehicles, respectively. Chauffeur services can include:
· Chauffeur-driven executive cars
· Airport and station shuttle car services
· Car services provided by hotels and retail businesses
· Stretch limousines
· Minicab services
· Party buses and novelty party vehicles such as fire engines or ice cream vans
· Small vehicles used for guided tours, excursions or holidays
What Licences Do I Need?
Before being able to put into place any chauffeur insurance, you will need to make sure you have the correct chauffeur licences for your particular business. To be able to run a chauffeur business, you will need to apply for three types of licences:
· A private hire operator licence, allowing the chauffeuring business to receive and negotiate any bookings.
· A private hire vehicle licence for every vehicle you intend to use in the course of your business hours.
· A private hire driver licence for every individual who will be driving the licenced vehicles.
To find out more about the necessary licences you will need for your business and how to obtain them as well as the costs involved, you will need to contact your local borough council.
The law now also allows licenced operators to sub-contract bookings to other licensed operators. However, be careful as you cannot legally give bookings directly to any private hire vehicle drivers not licenced by the same council as the operator.
In addition, businesses which only provide car services for weddings and funerals are exempt from licencing.
How Do I Get Started?
To obtain all the necessary licences, expect to put in a lot of time and money. If you are still a fairly young and inexperienced driver and haven’t worked as a professional driver previously, it may be more worthwhile working for an existing company to see if you are suited to the job.
Driving for long periods could be considered a high-risk job, especially for someone with limited experience. In addition, the vehicle you could be driving may be large and expensive, so you might be facing some hefty chauffeur insurance premiums. This risk becomes less the older and more experienced you are. Many insurance companies and even training courses won’t consider you until you reach the age of 25.
Most application packs from the licencing body will require you to undergo both a criminal record check and a driving licence verification check as professional chauffeur driving puts you in a position of trust and responsibility.
The licencing body will also need to check your medical background and require you to have a full medical examination to ensure you are physically well. You will also need an eyesight check to make sure it meets or exceeds the legal requirements for safe driving, and you need to be of good emotional health.
Local knowledge is key to whether you will make a good chauffeur driver. Many local authorities require you to undertake a knowledge test (often a scaled down version of The Knowledge undertaken by London black cab drivers). This assesses driving ability, communication skills and knowledge of the local area. You are not expected to have a photographic memory of the streets but would need to be able to navigate an alternative route to replace the original should it be blocked.
The final application will generally be for the vehicle licence itself. All vehicles are required to undergo an enhanced MOT/compliance test to ensure vehicles are roadworthy and safe before a licence application is made. Details about which vehicles are suitable for licensing as private hire vehicles can normally be found on local borough council websites.
If you decide to drive larger vehicles carrying more than nine passengers, these are not able to be licenced by the local borough councils and instead need to be licenced as public service vehicles by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.
Help for Inexperienced Drivers
Some areas that are essential when getting started as a chauffeur, particularly if you are new to the industry, include:
1. A valid driving licence
Depending on the type of vehicle you want to drive, you may need to apply for different driving licence category, which include:
Category B: cars
Category C: lorries
Category D1: minibuses
Category D: buses
2. A few years of driving experience
You will probably find that both the licence issuer as well as your chauffeur insurance broker will require you have at least three years of driving experience before applying. It is common for chauffeur agencies to only accept applicants who are over 25 years old and have a clean driving record. By doing a training course, you can gain experience that can be added to you CV.
3. A clean driving licence.
As a chauffeur, you will need to have a good couple of years of experience driving already, together with some additional specific training if possible. What you shouldn’t have is a history of poor driving and issues such as points on your licence, speeding tickets, driving under the influence or driving bans.
4. Ensure you are in good health
To qualify for work as a chauffeur, you will need to meet the vision standards of car drivers or licensed taxi drivers. You can check your sight by booking an appointment with an optometrist. It is also important to check for general medical conditions, such as epilepsy and you will be expected to undergo a full medical check to ensure you are safe to drive others.
5. Driving both automatic and manual cars.
Getting to know how to drive all styles of cars will help you to change vehicles if necessary. Your driving needs to be confident as your passengers will be expecting a smooth, stress-free ride to their destination.
6. Completing a training course
A chauffeuring safe driving course or an advanced driving course can be a good thing to invest in and will help to improve your qualifications as an experienced driver. To help ensure you receive your private hire operator licence and to keep your chauffeur insurance premiums as low as possible, both the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the recognised British Chauffeurs Guild offer courses that are recognised across the industry. Other options to consider include courses organised by the IAM RoadSmart and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). Completing a driving course includes:
· Car care and cleaning
· How to avoid collisions
· Defensive driving techniques
· Alcohol and speed awareness
· First aid
· Safe pickup and drop-off procedures.
Finding Chauffeur Insurance
Here are some commonly asked questions and key features of chauffeur insurance, from essential elements to optional add-ons that you may need to ensure that you and your business are fully covered.
What is chauffeur insurance?
Chauffeur insurance covers drivers who carry passengers for pre-booked events, or on an ongoing corporate contracted basis This will generally be carried out in high end luxury vehicles. Most insurance brokers offer bespoke insurance to cover you whether self-employed or contracted and if you offer mixed combination of private hire taxi and chauffeuring work.
Why do I need chauffeur insurance?
This cover is deemed essential for anyone who takes paying passengers in a vehicle of higher-than-average value for a journey booked in advance. A private motor insurance policy will not be sufficient for your business if you charge customers for their journey.
As a professional driver, you will be on the road for a considerable number of hours and therefore at greater risk from accidents or breakdowns. Chauffeur insurance is specifically designed to protect you as the driver, the vehicle you drive and your clients.
If something were to go wrong while you have clients in your vehicle and a third-party were to become injured or their property damaged, you could face a compensation claim. Chauffeur insurance can cover any legal costs and claims made against you at the same time helping you back on the road as quickly as possible.
You will also need to be able to offer a vehicle to transport customers reliably to their destination in comfort and style. Having a policy with a ‘like for like’ cover will give you a temporary replacement should your car break down, be damaged or worst case, written off.
What insurance do I need to be a chauffeur?
Remember that when starting out it is important not just to select the right policy but also the right level of cover within that policy. Try weighing it up by thinking about the things that could go wrong and any lasting financial consequences including the value of your vehicle and cost of replacing it if you do not have a fully comprehensive roads risks policy in place.
You need to select a policy that protects you against the major risks you are likely to face and that would pay sufficient amount in the event of a claim to prevent you being left out of pocket.
What Cover Does Chauffeur Insurance Provide?
At Tradex, our chauffeur/Taxi insurance policy is designed specifically for drivers with executive saloons or MPVs used for special pre-booked events or corporate contracts. Specialist insurance can be provided for either single vehicles or whole fleets depending on your business needs. Our chauffeur insurance specialists have extensive industry knowledge to help you find the policy that suits your needs.
In addition, a Tradex policy also allows a special extension for hire & reward that will allow chauffeurs to drive their customers’ vehicles to special events.
Chauffeur insurance can be arranged for self-employed drivers or those that are part of a contract, together with fleets and businesses of mixed use, including public or private hire taxis in addition to chauffeuring work.
Areas of cover necessary for chauffeuring work include:
Public liability insurance: this covers you in the event of a client or member of the public having an accident whilst in your vehicle or at your place of work. It also includes cover for members of the public who may suffer injury or property damage as a result of your chauffeuring. It will help pay legal expenses and any compensation claims made against you. Tradex can arrange for legal expenses cover, and public liability up to a £10 million indemnity limit.
Employers liability insurance: if you employ any staff, employer’s liability is a legal necessity, and this includes those that are only part time or volunteers. It will cover your business should an employee make a claim against you as a result of an accident or injury whilst working for your company.
“Like for like” vehicle replacements: cover can be arranged to provide like for like replacement vehicles in the event of a fault or accident – so your Mercedes S class isn’t replaced with a Ford Mondeo, for example, and clients can still travel in comfort and luxury.
Local roadside assistance and local recovery: cover including home-start is available as well and unlimited windscreen cover. There is also the option of onward travel for your passengers to ensure they arrive at their destination.
Multiple vehicle cover: This for an expanding business that operates more than two vehicles. It is often more time and cost efficient to cover the vehicles under one policy so you have a single renewal date.
Personal accident cover: should you be injured or unable to work as a result of an accident whilst working, this will cover you for any loss of income and help with bills and other expenses. Tradex offers personal accident cover of £100,000 (up to age 75).
Bonus Booster: this allows for younger drivers or those with less experience and no bonus to take out a six-month policy to accrue the equivalent of a year’s no claims bonus discount and subsequently use this with Tradex on a full-term policy.
Protected No Claims: your bonus can be protected but will require an additional premium.
Any location considered: we understand that businesses may operate in higher risk areas and try to cover all businesses for a reasonable premium.
Money cover: Together with any money you may have held on your premises, money cover can include cash carried in vehicles or in person
In the event that you need to make a claim, you will have access to a dedicated claims handler, who will help get you back on the road as soon as possible to protect your livelihood.
What is the Cost of Chauffeur Insurance?
The cost of chauffeur insurance cover is determined by a number of factors, which include:
The level of cover you take out: generally speaking, the more cover you take out, the more it will cost in the short-term but this needs to be balanced against the cost to your business should it not be included as part of your policy. When you first start out, it is often necessary to keep costs to a minimum and add additional insurance as your business expands.
The kind of work you carry out: obviously being a chauffeur brings its own set of risks. Longer on the road, maybe to areas you don’t know too well, can lead to increased risk of accidents. Also, where you work can pose a higher risk and cost more to cover. Think carefully about the areas in which you chauffeur and see if risks can be reduced.
Your driving qualifications, age and claims history: if you do not have a clean driving licence, getting a chauffeur licence in the first instance will be difficult. Younger aged drivers will automatically incur higher premiums but at Tradex we try and do everything we can to support younger drivers.
Discounts for named drivers: having one named driver to a luxury vehicle can help to reduce risks and therefore your policy price.
If you need any information about the type and level of chauffeur insurance you need for your specific business, Tradex is here to help. Our expert team has decades of experience in both public and private hire insurance and can help provide the protection you need.