Under the 1998 Private Hire Act, all PH drivers should have the appropriate hire and reward insurance before their vehicle is passed by TfL inspectors and the PH prebooked sticker is issued.
This TfL rule relates to the Road Traffic Act 1988 which states quite clearly use of the vehicle for hire or reward.
So one would assume that all of the 95k PH drivers presented their vehicles to the TfL inspectors with the correct documentation including V5 log books, current MOT not more than 21 days old and the appropriate hire and reward insurance to comply with the regulation before the vehicle is inspected and subsequently passed as fit for purpose.
I contacted TfL’s PH inspection centre today and asked what type of insurance should I provide when presenting my PH vehicle for inspection. The response shocked me, they said “we would require a current 3rd party or a full comprehensive social, domestic and pleasure insurance policy”. I asked if they would want to see my hire and reward insurance documentation? Their reply “we never ask to see hire and reward insurance as it is of no interest to us”.
So we have 95k private hire drivers having their vehicles passed by TfL with total disregard to their own rules in the PH Act and the Road Traffic Act.
What puzzles me is how or who checks to see if PH drivers have the additional hire and reward insurance?
We now know the police cannot check through ANPR if the driver has the correct insurance in place because ANPR does not include hire and reward.
What measures do TfL have of checking that the drivers’ hire and reward insurance is up to date and valid.
We know Uber drivers are paying between £150-250 per week for their vehicle which has social, domestic and pleasure insurance and the leasing of the vehicle is stopped at source by Uber, along with their cut, a hefty 20-25%. Now, if you were to add on the cost of additional appropriate hire and reward insurance, the driver/slave would have to find between £100-140 per week extra for this insurance.
Now we hear in the media that many of these drivers are encouraged to work 80 hours per week, clock up 100k miles per year, and are earning less than the minimum wage, do the numbers. If they complied with all the regulations they would be losing money. This model is not financially viable unless supported by tax credits. (See Editorial Extra below)
Road Traffic Act 1988
150 Insurance or security in respect of private use of vehicle to cover use under car-sharing arrangements.
(1)To the extent that a policy or security issued or given for the purposes of this Part of this Act—
(a)restricts the insurance of the persons insured by the policy or the operation of the security (as the case may be) to use of the vehicle for specified purposes (for example, social, domestic and pleasure purposes) of a non-commercial character, or
(b)excludes from that insurance or the operation of the security (as the case may be)—
(i)use of the vehicle for hire or reward, or
(ii)business or commercial use of the vehicle, or
(iii)use of the vehicle for specified purposes of a business or commercial character,
then, for the purposes of that policy or security so far as it relates to such liabilities as are required to be covered by a policy under section 145 of this Act, the use of a vehicle on a journey in the course of which one or more passengers are carried at separate fares shall, if the conditions specified in subsection (2) below are satisfied, be treated as falling within that restriction or as not falling within that exclusion (as the case may be).
(2)The conditions referred to in subsection (1) above are—
(a)the vehicle is not adapted to carry more than eight passengers and is not a motor cycle,
(b)the fare or aggregate of the fares paid in respect of the journey does not exceed the amount of the running costs of the vehicle for the journey (which for the purposes of this paragraph shall be taken to include an appropriate amount in respect of depreciation and general wear), and
(c)the arrangements for the payment of fares by the passenger or passengers carried at separate fares were made before the journey began.
(3)Subsections (1) and (2) above apply however the restrictions or exclusions described in subsection (1) are framed or worded.
(4)In subsections (1) and (2) above “fare” and “separate fares” have the same meaning as in section 1(4) of the M4Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981.
It seems that not only are TfL happy to turn a blind eye to Uber drivers not having expensive Hire and Reward insurance, we now find that the Treasury are quite happy to turn a blind eye on Private Hire drivers, subsidising their below the minimum wage, with Taxi credits at public expense.