THE FRAUDULENT use of insurance documentation has always been a bone of contention for the private hire industry. And, whilst it is a crime that has, up to this point, been committed by a relatively small number of drivers, it is none-the-less an issue that the authorities are keen to eradicate. With this in mind Plan Insurance Brokers, in conjunction with the GMB Union, has been working on finding a possible solution to the problem, as Ryan Georgiades explains…
As specialist brokers to the hire & reward industry we have seen first hand the insurance related issues of the private hire trade. These are long-standing problems whereby deceitful drivers exploit the system using certificates that are either fake, expired, cancelled or invalid
Often, to avoid their vehicle showing up on police ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) checks as unregistered on the MID (Motor Insurance Database), these unscrupulous drivers take out private car insurance, which is cheaper but inadequate for their purposes, as their vehicle will be insured to drive on the road but not for carrying passengers on a “hire and reward” basis.
So when we were approached by the Professional Drivers’ Branch of the GMB Union a number of months ago, to consider solutions to the insurance related issues of the private hire industry, we jumped at the chance.
Initially, the GMB proposed that all insurance documentation be issued with a holographic stamp to thwart forged copies. Although this method might reduce incidents of fraud at the point a license is issued, the possible delays in documentation generation could cause different but equally significant problems. The use of holograms also wouldn’t solve issues relating to the expiry of short term insurance contracts or the cancellation of policies without the relevant licensing authorities knowledge.
Having thought long and hard about how to provide an almost fool-proof system, utilising our expertise in the trade and in-depth knowledge of IT systems, we have designed a simple, yet effective online portal that will provide all 389 licensing regulators across the U.K with access to real time data relating to a driver’s insurance cover
Provisionally entitled the Taxi Insurance Checker (or TIC), the system will be completely secure, safeguarding all personal data, but able to supply the authorities with the required information regarding the insurance status and suitability of cover in place for any vehicle.
All insurers offering hire and reward insurance policies to taxi and private hire drivers will be required to apply and be registered on a database of approved suppliers. Once accepted, they will be granted access to a unique code generation tool that will provide encrypted reference numbers. These numbers will need to be printed on the certificate and policy documentation that is issued to their policy holder
When these numbers are entered into the online portal by the licensing authority agent, the system will confirm or refute whether suitable cover is in place for the vehicle that a license is being applied for, and the duration of cover provided under the policy terms.
When a policy expires or an insurer removes a driver from cover, a notification will be sent to the relevant licensing authority. They will then have the ability to contact the driver for clarification of their insured status and take the appropriate action.
The system would be a similar concept to the DVLA’s online driving licence checker portal and the MIB’s motor insurance database. Both have benefitted motorists and authorities by utilising technology and streamlining processes to help reduce the abuse of antiquated monitoring systems.
We believe that TIC can have a similar effect on the private hire industry, as the first line of defence against insurance fraud. This will hopefully go a long way to significantly reducing the likelihood of a driver perpetrating fraud while, in the processing, improving safety and offering peace of mind to both passengers and licensing authorities alike