London cab drivers rush to renew cover following Alpha collapse

Protector Protest

Exclusive: London Black Cab drivers queued outside the offices of their insurance broker for a second day running, as drivers were left scrambling for alternative cover following the collapse of Alpha Insurance.

Thousands of cabbies received a text message telling them their insurance had been cancelled and left unable to work following the collapse of unrated Danish insurer Alpha on Tuesday.

Queues were seen outside Alpha-backed Cover My Cab and Protector Policies offices in London on Wednesday and Thursday as thousands of cab drivers rushed to renew their insurance and get back on the road. 

Up to 700 taxi drivers and 10,000 minicab drivers have been affected, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said.

One London Cabbie, who gave only his first name - Ossie - has been driving a cab for over thirty years; he said the financial impact could cost some drivers thousands in fares on top of a new insurance premium.

“We’re loosing hundreds of pounds a day,” he said. “Some of the lads have got kids, they’ve got mortgages, we’ve all got bills. We rely on work to pay those bills. A day off the road might not have too big of an impact but this looks set to go on several days.”

Policyholders were notified that their policies had been cancelled via a text message sent on Tuesday evening at 10.27pm.

“Your taxi insurance policy with Alpha Insurance is cancelled with immediate effect,” the message said, ending with Protector’s contact information and a note that the broker would “arrange alternative cover.”

David Longman has been outside Protector’s office since before 8.30am, he was here yesterday as well. Longman said he has received no further information or being offered any support other then the text message and an email from the LTDA.

“The only information I’ve received, other than the text, is an email from the Association.  There’s a few links on the email to the FCA in Denmark but it’s a little confusing. There’s something about a Danish Fund but it looks like money may come out of the estate - I don’t know what it means for us. I doubt we’ll get compensation. It’s not looking great. I’ve asked around but no one seems to know.”

“We can’t get through to anybody – not even their competitors,” Longman said. “I must have made 200 calls yesterday. The lines are log-jammed.”

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the LTDA, said: “London taxi drivers pride ourselves on high standards of safety and compliance. We have notified all of our members about this change, to ensure that no one is unintentionally driving without insurance.

“We will be supporting any of our members that may have been affected.”

Those cover seekers who have managed to get through to other brokers or insurers say they have experienced major hikes in their quoted premiums.

Pat Cusack, 57, is a self-employed black cab driver since 1998. “I pay £1000 a year with Protector, I put some calls in yesterday an the cheapest quote offered was £1750. This is the second day I’ve had without money. I’m self-employed so no work means no money.”

Queuing policyholders have been handed numbers by Protector. An official from Protector told a group of waiting policyholders that it would be unlikely that all would be seen by the end of the day.

Post attempted to contact the company both on the phone and in person but staff declined to comment.

Bill King, a self-employed London cabbie for over 20 years, said he was 57th in the queue and had been waiting for nearly four hours. King received the notification that his cover had been cancelled shortly after returning home. He has been unable to use his cab since and spent over two hours making the journey from his home to Protector offices in Russell Square.

One cab driver, who declined to be named, said he had a passenger in his cab when the text alert came through.

“I had to make the decision whether I should leave a young women on the side of a road at half ten at night in the middle of London or finish the fare and take her home. I had to drive home after finishing the fare without any insurance. How and why was I ever put into that situation?”

“If I had an accident I would have been liable. If I had been pulled over my only option would have been if the LTDA or government intervened. How likely is that though?”

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