A private hire vehicle is different from a licensed taxi or a public service vehicle such as a bus or coach. It is a vehicle which is manufactured or adapted to seat less than nine passengers and is available with a driver for public hire for the purpose of carrying passengers.
private hire insurance is a different type of insurance specifically aimed at vehicles which are used for private hire for payment or reward. It differs from public hire vehicle insurance used for taxis which are licensed for public hire, such as the Black cabs in London.
The key difference between a private hire and public hire vehicles is that a private hire vehicle must be ordered prior to a journey, it is not possible to hail a private hire vehicle on the street. Plying for business or hire is liable to prosecution.
Private hire vehicles are also prohibited from advertising, displaying or imply that they are for hire, unlike black cabs which have the famous ‘for hire’ illuminated sign on the vehicle. Legally (London) it is only Black cabs, also know as Hackney Carriages which can be stopped, hailed, and pick up fare paying passengers from the street.
The operators of Private hire vehicles are required to hold an operators license which has to be displayed at the license holder’s place of business. The license will be required by insurers when applying for private hire insurance.
All private hire vehicles require a vehicle license, which informs customers that the vehicle is ‘fit for use’.
A driver’s license is also required which differs from a personal driving license. The private hire driver’s license is obtained by the driver passing checks such as proof of right to work in the UK, that they have passed a medical check and have an enhanced criminal record background check. All of these measures have been put in place to help protect the public from illegal operators. The license/badge has to be worn at all times when working. Drivers who fail to wear their private hire drivers badge in a clear and visible manner are liable to prosecution.
Private hire vehicles used for weddings and funerals are exempt from the private hire regulations, however, they do require appropriate vehicle insurance.
All private hire vehicles have to have the correct private hire insurance, failure to do so is an offence which is liable to prosecution under the Road Traffic Act 1988. This can mean penalty points on the driver’s license, disqualification from driving and/or fines. Therefore, it is imperative and a legal requirement that all private hire vehicles have the correct insurance cover.
There are many different types of private hire services and operators. These range from stretch limousines to tourist guides and companies which offer airport transfers, pick you up from the supermarket or take you to and from a night out. All are required to have the relevant licenses and private hire insurance and will need to be pre-ordered either in person or by telephone. When ordering a private hire vehicle the operator is required to ask details such as the name of the person, the time and place of the pick-up, destination and contact phone number. People ordering a private hire vehicle should also inform the operators if they have any special requirements such as having an assistance dog. Failure to carry out a booking by the operators may result in prosecution.