A Guide to Insuring your Minibus

What is a Minibus?

A minibus is a passenger carrying motor vehicle that is designed to carry more passengers than a multi-purpose vehicle or minivan but less than a bus or coach. Typically they are between 9 and 17 seats and are a great low cost way of transporting small groups of people around.

Do I need specialist Insurance to drive a minibus?

Minibuses can be used for a wide range of uses and often by multiple drivers therefore you will require specialist insurance to drive a minibus. To ensure you have insured your minibus correctly we would also recommend speaking to a specialist Minibus Insurance broker that has experience in this market and can therefore recommend a product that best suits your needs.

Will I be able to find Minibus quotes online?

Minibus Insurance typically is more expensive than insuring small vehicles such as estates and salons. Minibuses carry more passengers and as such are more expensive to Insure. It is best to speak to a broker as we have found online websites generating quotes but not supplying the correct cover because it hasn’t picked up the fact that the vehicle has more seats.

Can I insure a minibus for a short period of time?

Here at Quotax we have an exclusive short term minibus scheme with a leading Insurer, if you would like to discuss cover options please call our team.

If I take out Minibus Insurance can I drive other cars and minibuses Third party only?

Unfortunately we don’t know of any Insurer that allows cover to driver other vehicles when taking out a Minibus Insurance policy.

What are the requirements if I wanted to drive a minibus not for ‘hire and reward’

We always recommend speaking to the Vehicle and Operators Services Agency and the Driver and Vehicle licensing Agency but current guidance as of the 14/08/2017 is as follows:

✔ 21 or older

✔ Had your driving licence for at least 2 years

✔ Meet the group 2 medical standards if you’re over 70 – check with your GP if you are not sure you meet the standards

✔ You’re driving on a voluntary basis and the minibus is not more than 3.5 tonnes – or 4.25 tonnes including specialist equipment for disabled passenger, for example a wheelchair ramp

✔ You’re not towing a trailer

We are a Not for profit organisation and would like to make a small charge towards the running costs of the minibus, will I need Private Hire Insurance?

If you are an organisation providing transport on a ‘’not for profit basis’ you can apply for either a section 19 or section 22 permit. These permits allow an organisation to make a charge towards the running costs of the vehicle, without a view to profit.

How quickly will I be able to get a quote for my minibus?

We have a specialist minibus team available to take your call between 9am & 5pm, often we are able to run through details which usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes and deliver a quote within half an hour. If you would like to discuss your requirements with our team please call us on 0208 691 9691.

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£200,000 deal for Fylde minibus firm

A Fylde coach and minibus company has been brought by Rotala.

Rotala, the Birmingham based company has put forward an investment of £200,000 to buy Elite Minibus and Coach Services in Fylde.

The company, based in Blackpool, has a fleet ranging from 4 to 53 seated vehicles and has been established for 28 years in Fylde.

They have a service contract with the local authority for the Service Number 87 that goes between Cleveleys and Poulton, along with several school and college contracts.

The company, together with its private hire business generates an annual revenue of around £500,000.

In a statement made by Rotala to the stock market they go on to say “This acquisition will broaden the range of services which Preston Bus is able to offer in this area of Lancashire and add to its geographical reach.”

Rotala has had a turnover in the last few years of just over £50m however it has raised its aims to generate a figure of £85m following its expansion.

Rotala’s hold operations in Bristol, Essex, Manchester and is also the owner of Preston Bus which it brought back in January 2011.

The LSE statement said: “This business, with its small number of existing staff will be integrated into the outstation which Rotala already operates in Blackpool through its subsidiary company, Preston Bus.”

It went on to add that the vehicle fleet of Elite had a fair value of £150,000 and that Rotala would not assume any other assets or liabilities of materiality on acquisition.

“On this basis the Acquisition is expected to generate about £50,000 of positive goodwill on consolidation and is expected to be earnings enhancing from completion.”

Bob Dunn the Director added: “We already operate a few services in Blackpool, eight at this moment in time however this will give us another six.

“We have always seen the area as one we wanted to expand into and we have other things planned for the wider North West.

“We want to develop the whole region with more of a coach operation, but are also looking at bus opportunities.”

Volkswagon unveil an all-electric minibus for the future

Volkswagon ID Buzz Minibus

Volkswagon has unveiled a new futuristic concept of the old minibus called the I.D Buzz.

The vehicle will be zero-emission and can seat up to eight people. It will also come with a ton of hi-tech features including an “augmented reality” display screen.

The vehicle will have a self-driving mode which when given a “slight push” it will activate and allow the driver’s seat to swivel 180 degrees allowing them to join the passengers.  Also, each drivers preferences in terms of seat height and music are linked to a ‘cloud’ which will automatically activate when the driver gets into the vehicle.

The Buzz will have a max speed of 99mph in order to save battery life and can do 0-60 mph in five seconds.  The battery will be 11kWh which can be charged to 80% within half an hour. The vehicle will also have a driving range of around 270 miles which is comparable to petrol/diesel cars.

Keeping with the old ‘hippy’ style, the seats will recline to make ‘beds’ which will allow several people to snooze at any time.

The plans were unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Dr Herbert Diess, from Volkswagon has advised that the new plans would begin in 2020 and has promised a “completely new vehicle architecture”.

Dr H Diess also added that the company will be launching a new generation of all-electric vehicles with the vision to make “electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagon”

Driverless bus tests start in Paris

Paris, a city with chronic pollution and traffic are experimenting with electric powered self-driving shuttle which will link two train stations.

Two EZ10 minibuses that have a capacity to carry 6 seated and 6 standing passengers went into a trial service yesterday. The trial will run till April and will cover between Lyon and Austerlitz stations in Paris.

RATP president, Elisabeth Borne said ‘The autonomous vehicle presents an opportunity for new services in less densely populated areas.’

The vehicles will be GPS guided and will run seven days a week, free of charge to customers.

The minibuses will run in a single traffic lane at 15 miles per hour, back and forth. The bus will not require an infrastructure as it will use a virtual route which can be changed at any time.

The EZ10 minibus has already been tested in other countries such as the United States, Japan and Finland. They have also set plans for it to be tested in two main ‘green’ spaces in southern Paris

 RAPT also have hopes to introduce regular routes for such high-tech vehicles within the next 2 years.

Minibus licence loophole, is it putting people at risk?

A legal loophole has been found which allows drivers of “public carriage vehicles” who are not subject to a criminal check.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport confirmed it was planning to take immediate action as the loophole would allow “unscrupulous drivers” to legally work even if the local councils have placed a ban on them.

The current rules and regulations mean that drivers of public carriage vehicles are licensed by the DVLA whereas local councils license taxi drivers.

Taxi drivers are required to undergo enhanced criminal record checks when being issued with a license.

The LGA has advised that the loophole meant that drivers who had either been refused a taxi/minicab licence or whose license had been revoked could instead obtain a minibus licence which allows them to operate in the same area.

In some cases, the drivers continued to work for the same company however with a different license.

The LGA has urged the government to change the law, thus removing the loophole and ensuring that vehicles seating 9-16 people were licensed by the local council.

Simon Blackburn from the LGA has expressed that the majority of minibus drivers are ‘trusted by the public’ however the loophole has provided opportunity for ‘questionable’ drivers to work in close proximity to the public even in cases where the council have deemed it not safe to do.

He continued to say “Larger minibuses are often sent in place of a regular taxi to pick up individuals or small parties, purely because they are nearest to the pick-up point rather than because there is a requirement for such a large vehicle.

“They are used to take groups of children to school, or to drive groups home after nights out.

“It is therefore extremely worrying that councils’ proactive work to protect taxi passengers from harm – and particularly those who may be most vulnerable – is being undermined by this loophole.”

Some Minibus Safety Tips from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

A Minibus being a large multi-passenger vehicle need to be driven with extreme caution. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have put together an extremely informative booklet to assist those who drive Minibuses.

 The full guide can be found at the following web address: http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/drivers/bus-coach-minibus-drivers/

 A summary of some of the information relating to the management of drivers is below:

 Almost all road accidents are caused by, or involve Human error some of the most common causes are below:

 

  • Being Distracted
  • Failure to give way
  • Failure to look properly
  • Loss of control of the vehicle
  • Careless, thoughtless, reckless driving
  • Poor turn or manoeuvre
  • Lack of judgement
  • Inappropriate speed

 

Operators should ensure that every minibus driver:

 

  • Has the appropriate driving licence to drive the vehicle
  • Understands their responsibilities
  • Undergoes initial and periodic assessments of ability to drive a minibus, especially if they do not drive a minibus regularly or they are driving one after a long period of not doing so.
  • Receives Practical driver training in a minibus, as necessary, under the conditions in which they are likely to drive the minibus.
  • Has a clean driving licence (at the discretion of the Operator)
  • Medically fit to drive the minibus
  • Ensures they are well rested before driving and takes regular rest breaks
  • Is accompanied by a second driver, who is fully qualified to drive the vehicle
  • Always carries their driving licence.
  • Undergoes assessment if they are involved in a blameworthy Accident.

 It is also recommended that Operators set a minimum standard for their drivers and ensure that all drivers fall within that criteria.

 Operators who take an active role in training and managing drivers using their vehicles reduce the number of incidents their vehicles are involved in and therefore reduce the ongoing cost of Minibus Insurance.

 

The self-driving minibus that has hit America

The company Local Motors has gone into partnership with IBM in order to create “Olli” the world’s first 3D printed self- driving, electric minibus.

The chassis of the vehicle is manufactured using a 3D printer which takes around 24 hours to print. The vehicle is then fitted with a battery and an IT system. It will also make use of IBM’s “Watson” Cognitive learning technology.

The minibus can carry up to 12 passengers and has already been a hit in Washington DC and will soon be rolling out to Miami and Las Vegas.

Olli can be hailed via an app much like Uber and passengers will be able to interact with Olli conversationally as the Watson technology will allow it to discuss destinations and other topics such as how it works. The use of the Watson technology will not distract Olli from its driving duties and according to the designers Olli can see much more and react quicker to situations than what a human could and can process high volumes of transport data via its 30 embedded sensors.

The US has pledged $4 billion to fund driverless vehicles so far as more and more cities are interesting in them.

Tips for minibus insurance

  • Increase Voluntary Excess – Insurance policies will generally have a compulsory excess which you would have to pay in the event of you making claim. Most insurance companies will allow you to add a voluntary increase on the excess which will bring the cost of your insurance down however we advise you make sure you are comfortable with the amount as it would be requested in the event of a claim.
  • No Claims Bonus (NCB) – The more years you have available the lower your premium will be. We can also accept No Claims Bonus from a private car as long as it is not already being used.
  • Introductory Discounts – In the event you do not have any No Claim Bonus we may still be able to offer an introductory discount which would depend on your claims history. As long as you hold an accident free claims history from a similar vehicle we may be able to offer a discount which is the equivalent to having 3 years No Claim Bonus.
  • Driver Restrictions – If you only have one or two people that will be driving the vehicle it may work out cheaper if you restrict your policy to the named drivers only. We also advise you check the drivers licenses to confirm they have no points that may further effect the premium. We advise you obtain confirmation of who is covered to drive the vehicle before proceeding.
  • Usage – Make sure you inform the broker/insurer of the exact use of the vehicle as failure to do so may lead in the policy not indemnifying you in the result of an accident. We also advise to make sure drivers have the correct license for the vehicle.
  • Claims – If you are involved in an accident we recommended you think about the cost of the repairs before making a claim. If the incident has caused minor damage it may be more cost effective to settle the bill yourself to keep your next year’s premium low.
  • Compliant – If the vehicle is being used for a school or educational facility we advise you should ensure that you are complying with the policy and that the policy meets the requirements of your Local Education Authority (LEA).

School Minibus Driver saves children from Collapsing bridge

A school minibus driver has been hailed a hero by saving 11 children from a collapsing bridge in Worcestershire.

The grade II listed Eastham Bride has been around since 1793 but last Tuesday it suddenly collapsed into the river.

Derek Trow was driving 11 pupils home from Lindridge St Lawrence Church of England Primary School when he approached the bridge and noticed the road giving way.

The driver quickly put the minibus into reverse and move the vehicle off the bridge before it dramatically gave way.

The bridge is expected to take months to replace and has left the town with severe traffic disruptions. 

 

What to do in the event of an RTA

Road Traffic accidents can take place at any given moment and this brief guide will offer advice and tips on what action you should take.

After the impact has taken place it is best to gather as much information as possible in the event of a claim being made by yourself or to defend any claim being made against you. A tip given by many insurers is to always carry a small notepad and pen in your vehicle so that you can record details down straight away.

Firstly make sure you are physically ok and any passengers that you may have in your vehicle. If anyone has sustained an injury and is unable to exit the vehicle unaided it is advised to contact the emergency services.

  • Take images – If you have a smart phone or a camera in your vehicle we advise that you take images of the accident location (with vehicles still in position if possible however if they had to be moved then please take an image of where the impact took place, damage to all vehicles involved, third party vehicle showing the vehicle registration.

 

  • Exchange details with the third party – Try to obtain the following; Name, Address, Contact number, Vehicle registration, Insurance company name, policy number. (If they refuse to provide you with their details make sure you take note of their vehicle registration and note down a small description of the driver. If this is the case we advise you contact the police to report the incident and confirm that they have refused to provide you with the relevant information)(Failure to exchange information at the scene of the accident can result in the police taking further action against you and may land you with a fine and a conviction on your license.)

 

  • Circumstances – It would be helpful if you noted down the following to provide to your insurers when reporting a claim; Time, Location, Brief note of what happened, a small sketch while the accident is still fresh in your memory.

 

  • Witnesses – You may find that people approach you after an accident however if you notice someone has witnessed what has happened it is best to ask them if they are happy to be a noted witness of the accident and to be contacted If needed for a statement. Please take a note of their Name, Address (or email) and a contact number.

 

  • DO NOT provide any comment on liability at the scene of the accident – It is best to obtain all the above information and pass it to your insurance company for them to review.

 

  • Report the accident as soon as possible – It is recommended that you report the claim to your insurance company within 24 hours of an accident taking place regardless of if you are making a claim or who is at fault. Here at Quotax we have a dedicated claims handler who can assist you with this process and offer further advice/services to suit your needs.

 

Once a claim is reported to an insurer or representative it is not uncommon for you to receive cold colds from alternative companies offering you services or on behalf of the third party side fishing for information or trying to get you to accept liability on a recorded phone call. Due to this it is advised that you only discuss your claim with your insurer or representative only.

If you are unsure who is dealing with your claim always contact your insurer and ask or provide them with the names of companies calling you so they can confirm who is acting on your behalf.

 

Dealing with an accident outside of insurance Do’s and Don’ts

 

If either you offer to assist the third party outside of insurance or the third party offers to assist you it is helpful to keep the following in mind;

 

*If you decide to choose this option and the third party reimburses you for your losses you will not be able to claim again for the same incident via your insurance company or the other parties insurance company*

 

  • DO follow the above steps still just in case you or the third party reverts back to the general insurance route.
  • DO obtain a quote for your vehicle from a garage before accepting any sums from the third party as some repairs can cost more than what it looks like.
  • DO keep hold of any receipts for any work you have done to your vehicle that the other party has not yet paid for.
  • DO NOT just pay sums to the third party without asking them to sign some paper stating that they accept you have paid them out. Make sure this contains you information, the third party information, the sum paid out and both sign the paper along with the date.
  • DO NOT feel like you have to accept this option if you are not fully agreeable – you are under no obligation to settle outside of insurance and we advise you contact your insurer so they can get involved as soon as possible.

By Danielle Flood

Quotax Claims Manager