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We are an A+ rated specialist motor insurer that proudly insures a range of taxis, ranging from the LEVC to the Skoda Octavia. Our team of expert underwriters have been delivering services to the industry for more than 25 years. We understand taxi risks inside and out and provide tailored cover single and multi-vehicle risks.

Our Passenger Carrying Vehicles Underwriter, Sam Beamish, talks through key themes in the market and the biggest challenges it is currently facing…

Introducing our Passenger Carrying Vehicles Underwriter, Sam Beamish

I started at ERS six years ago as an underwriter within the Commercial Passenger Carrying Vehicles team, where I am responsible for looking after a variety of products including coach and bus, minibus and in particular taxi and chauffeur. My day-to-day duties include looking after the policy servicing for complex cases, maintaining a healthy renewal book, assessing presented risks and writing profitable new business while identifying areas and gaps in the market to target. On top of this I also keep an eye on broker accounts and performance, and help to build on the already great relationships we have with many of our brokers and partners.

Key themes in the Taxi market

Which taxis are you seeing more of?
Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular in the industry. Many councils are looking to reduce exposure to older fossil fuel vehicles, and this is creating demand for alternative fuels, predominantly electric. As a result of this we are now seeing new electric models. Teslas continue to be popular and the LEVC London Electric Black Taxis are increasing in market share rapidly. Mercedes have also brought out a new V class which I anticipate will be popular.

Which taxi models are you seeing less of?
London black cabs TX4 are now few and far between, as drivers and companies are opting for the new electric version. In fact, production of the TX4 ended a few years ago with no further diesel models to replace, as they became fully electrified to fall in line with the Transport for London emissions policy and vehicle acceptance criteria.

Which have been the most consistent models over the last few years? Skodas, mainly the Superbs and Octavias, along with the Mercedes E220, have been consistently common over the past few years due to their durability, reliability and comfort for passengers. We’re noticing that these vehicles continue to be a popular choice for drivers to this day.

What do you think makes these vehicles more consistent in the current climate? Why do so many people opt for these vehicles?
There are a lot of reasons, including, affordability, comfort and durability, especially for the Octavia's. They have remained consistent in the current climate, as the cost of upgrading vehicles is higher than it has ever been. Therefore, existing vehicle retention has increased, especially as these vehicles are lasting longer than previous versions.

If you were a taxi driver, what vehicle would you choose?
I would go for an LEVC Electric Black Cab. We had the opportunity to test drive/ride in these when they first came out and it was an enjoyable experience. I also like that they’ve kept a similar style and shape to the old traditional model; these vehicles are still recognisable as London black cabs.

If you were a chauffer driver, what vehicle would you choose?
Having been to many chauffeur awards, where they often have the newest vehicles present, I have been lucky enough to sit in and test out a lot of them, so it’s a difficult choice. If I had to choose, though, I would go for something top of the range and luxurious, but that also has that ‘classic’ factor, like the Rolls Royce Phantom.

    What are you noticing happening in the taxi market?
    The market is hardening now due to inflation and the cost of labour and parts for vehicles, which are all forcing insurers to increase rates. There’s still an affect from the fallout of Brexit and the war in Ukraine, which has made it more difficult to acquire vehicle parts from abroad. What with the cost-of-living crisis, this has hit everybody hard.

    What are the key challenges facing the industry in the next 12 months?
    A big challenge facing a lot of drivers is compliance with the rapid expansion of Low/Ultra Low Emission (LEZ/ULEZ) and Clean Air Zones (CAZ). London is expanding its ULEZ footprint and cities like Birmingham, Bristol and Oxford are introducing their CAZ. While this is a positive step for the environment, there is an immediate cost challenge on the market to shift to newer, more efficient vehicles. These present a much larger cost to individual drivers than they were previously used to, and with the large delays being experienced in the release of new vehicles, the switch is not a straightforward process. Not too far in the future, Glasgow will be looking to go from LEZ to ULEZ and Manchester is undergoing further consultation to introduce a CAZ, so the growth in these zones continues to increase rapidly.

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