Although the coronavirus pandemic has led the majority of the UK’s workforce to set up shop from the comfort of their home, there are many workers where the option of remote working simply isn’t viable.
Among this number are the country’s cabbies, be that public hire or private hire such as minicabs. While their fares have dropped off significantly in light of the lockdown, many people are still using cabs for essential travel, meaning the threat of being in close contact with passengers who could have the virus is still a concern.
Without any way of controlling who might hop into their cab, many taxi drivers are understandably worried for their safety and that of their family at a time of national emergency.
Therefore, we’ve outlined whether taxi insurance covers drivers against coronavirus, and what drivers can do to protect themselves from this potentially deadly disease:
Does taxi insurance protect against Covid-19?
Most taxi insurance policies include public liability insurance, which helps protect drivers and their passengers should anything happen while on the road and is essential for those dealing with council or local authority contracts.
Though taxi companies aren’t required by law to take out public liability insurance, many cabbies choose to do so to shield themselves from claims made by customers.
As it is designed chiefly to cover damage or injury to members of the public and their property, public liability insurance is unlikely to offer protection against the coronavirus.
However, as it stands there is currently no way for a passenger to prove that they contracted coronavirus as a result of being in a taxi, or that the driver was in any way negligent.
Given the circumstances, many insurers are allowing taxi drivers who are currently out of work to make changes that wouldn’t usually be possible, such as downgrading their cover to a standard private car insurance policy.
What taxi drivers can do to stay safe
There are a number of practical things that taxi drivers can do to protect themselves and ensure that their cab is a safe place for passengers.
Firstly, drivers should avoid all direct contact with those they pick up and drop off, as well as their belongings.
While this may not be the easiest thing when getting people from A to B, it is one of the most crucial things that cabbies can do to avoid becoming infected.
Passengers should be placed as far apart from you as possible, and you should use disposable gloves or tissues when handling luggage to avoid direct contact.
Hand washing has perhaps been the most widely reported method of combating the spread of Covid-19, but for cab drivers who are on the road for much of the day, finding an opportunity to wash your hands can prove a tall order.
That’s why it’s a good idea to carry antibacterial gel or wipes in your taxi at all times. These are especially useful when handling coins and bank notes, which are effective at aiding the transmission of the virus, according to the World Health Organization.
It’s also worth having a supply of tissues on board, which you or your passengers can use to catch coughs and sneezes. If you don’t have any tissues, you should sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands, as it’s easier to spread the virus after touching your face or other people’s hands.
Taxi drivers must also be prepared to be forceful with passengers while remaining friendly. If you pick up a passenger who is showing symptoms of the virus, you must ensure that they follow the basic hygiene rules that are in place for everyone.
In such unprecedented times, there are no guarantees for taxi drivers that their insurance will protect them should they or their passengers contract coronavirus during working hours.
Insurers are adapting to the situation, however, and many are giving drivers the option to alter their policies to suit their needs.
The best thing that cabbies can do in a practical sense though is to take the necessary health and safety measures to ensure a smooth and safe journey, both for themselves and their passengers.