2023 COMM Alex Pink BL

ERS has been a leading motor insurer for 75 years, providing specialist motor insurance via a network of nationwide insurance brokers and have provided Minibus insurance for over 25 years.

At ERS, 18% of our Minibus book represents the care sector, which is such a valuable part of our community.

We have dedicated underwriters who understand the licensing nuances that are prevalent for organisations in the care sector. Section 19 & 22 permits (of the Transport Act 1985) allow organisations to provide transport on a ‘not for profit’ basis without the need for a Public Service Vehicle operator’s licence (PSV).

How valuable are minibuses in the Care Sector?
The care sector covers a vast range of individuals or organisations that provides care services within the community, including occupations or organisations such as care homes, social work, community workers, carers, hospital transport services, childminders, nurseries & foster parents. This sits within the Carriage of non-fare paying passengers sub-product.

Below are examples of how organisations use our Minibus product in care sector

  • Care homes/ hospital transport – minibuses are often modified to accommodate medical needs such as wheelchair access.

  • Social work/ community work – Minibuses are often used to take people on days out or to appointments, this gives many vulnerable individuals the opportunity to meet new people and experience new things.

  • Childminders/ foster parents/ nurseries – This covers specialists in childcare or the provision of vehicles for larger families (under the regulation of local authorities). We provide personal belongings cover for child items.

  • Community transport services - This tends to be non-profit organisations operating under a Section 22 permit*. A Section 22 permit allows them to provide a local bus service in communities where there may be minimal transport infrastructure.

*For more information on Section 19 & 22 permits please visit this link Section 19 and 22 permits and obligations: not for profit passenger transport - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

What are the challenges currently facing the Care Sector?
As many people have over the last year, the care sector has been particularly affected by increasing costs.

The cost-of-living crisis and increase in inflation has severely impacted the sector. For many organisations, a way to manage this is to reduce the number of vehicles which often has a detrimental effect on the services they provide.

In addition to this, the increased cost of care has also further reduced funding for other outgoing costs such as transport, which have already been on the rise for the last few years.

The increased cost of fuel has also impacted the sector. The Homecare Association has recently stated that high fuel prices have led to a “reduction in homecare capacity, as homecare workers and their employers are struggling to cover increased costs of driving.”

Lastly, Government funding is often a lifeline for these organisations and when that funding is pulled it has disastrous consequences for the care sector. An example of this is the Community Transport Association, a national charity in Northern Ireland which operates dial-a-lift services for the elderly. A large portion of the population in Northern Ireland rely on these services because of a lack of adequate public transport. The service helps to stop loneliness and is crucial for the elderly to feel connected to the community. This is not an isolated issue but widely felt across the sector.

What does the Minibus product offer the Care Sector?
Unlike most motor products the minibus isn’t a livelihood vehicle, it’s a mechanism to provide support for those who need it. In 2021 we supported the sector by introducing the following policy benefits:

This was in addition to our existing product features, which include:

In particular, the below policy enhancements are prevalent for the Care Sector:

  • Wheelchair cover up to £2,500 each to replace up to two wheelchair
  • Up to £200 each for up to 5 of the below items:
    • Child seat
    • Child booster seats
    • Pushchair
    • Buggy or carrycot

As with all of our Minibus products, Breakdown cover is complementary on our comprehensive Minibus policies – this has recently been enhanced to include mis-fuelling cover.

Minibus appetite

We provide insurance that’s designed to support organisations in the care sector that are working hard in our communities. Our minibus product covers the below:

  • 5 vehicles on a single policy
  • Up to 17 passenger seats – will consider vehicles with less seats for care & residential homes or nurseries.
  • Modified vehicles for medical needs covered
  • ‘Any driver 21/25’ restrictions considered

    For more information on our appetite, click here.

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