Advice on Minibus Insurance
Why buy Minibus Insurance?
It is the law in this country that every motor vehicle must be insured to a minimum standard defined by the Road Traffic Act of 1988. This says that you must have insurance to cover you at least for injuries that you might cause to other people and damage to their property.
Minibuses used as taxis have to be additionally insured for the “carriage of persons for hire or reward” and will usually have use for “private hire” specifically stated on the insurance documents.
Taxi licensing authorities will require sight of valid insurance documents before issuing a taxi licence plate for a vehicle.
Special insurances are available for minibuses which are not used as taxis, but nor are they used for social, domestic, pleasure or business purposes. For instance, a volunteer worker using a minibus to transport patients to and from a hospital, or for transporting school pupils.
Most institutions operate their minibuses under a s19 permit operated by the local Traffic Commissioner. This scheme is provided for by s19 of the Transport Act 1985 and allows non-profit-making organisations, such as schools, to provide transport for hire or reward without the need to obtain a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Operator's licence. The minibus must only be used to transport a specific and defined group of people, such as the members of a school or a sports club.
Section 22 permits issued under the 1985 Transport Act are granted for non-profit groups that use unpaid volunteer drivers, to enable them to operate registered bus services for the public, using a minibus.
What is covered?
Most “third party” insurances cover you for little more than the legal requirements.
“Third party fire and theft” insurances will also cover you for damage caused to your vehicle during a theft or an attempted theft, or if your vehicle is involved in a fire. If your vehicle is not recovered following a theft, or is a total loss in a fire, the insurance company will pay you the value of your vehicle at the time of the incident.
If you have a valuable vehicle, you may want to purchase “comprehensive” insurance. This also covers damage to your own vehicle in an accident, even if the accident is your fault, and malicious damage.
What is not covered?
“Third party” type insurances do not cover you for damage to your own vehicle or property.
“Comprehensive” policies usually have an “excess”. This is an amount of money that you are responsible for if you make a claim. Suppose you make a claim for £1000 of damage. If you have an excess of £250, you will be required to pay for the first £250 of the claim and the insurer will pay the rest.
There will also be restrictions on what you can use your vehicle for and who may drive it. For instance, the insurance may only cover the vehicle whilst being driven by certain named drivers.
If you allow your vehicle to be driven by someone else, or used for some other purpose, it will not be insured and in fact it will be being driven illegally.
What does it cost?
During June 2011, Coversure customers paid an average of £1558 for comprehensive private hire insurance for minibuses
What to watch out for?
Usually broken windscreens are not covered. It is normal now for your vehicle to not be covered for theft if you leave your keys in the vehicle.
What options are worth having?
The most common “add on” is legal protection insurance. This will provide you with help to recover your uninsured losses if you have an accident which is not your fault. For instance, if you have third party cover and someone runs into the back of your car, damage to your vehicle is not covered by your insurance, but should be covered by the other driver’s insurance. If you have legal protection insurance, you will have access to someone with the skills and experience to make sure that the other driver’s insurer reimburses you properly and in a timely fashion. If your car is unroadworthy as a result, they will be able to provide you with a hire car which should also be paid for by the other driver.
If you have comprehensive insurance, your insurer will normally provide this service for you, but you will still have uninsured losses such as your excess and the legal protection insurance will provide you with the expertise to get this back from the other driver.
You can also often purchase discounted breakdown insurance with your motor policy. This will normally represent a considerable saving over purchasing breakdown insurance directly from one of the motoring organisations.
This is just an introduction to minibus insurance and is not intended to be representative of the covers or restrictions offered by any particular insurance or that all insurance provide the protection described. You can get a recommendation for a particular insurance to suit your own circumstances by talking to the skilled staff at any Coversure branch.