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COVID-19: Other Uses for Your Taxi Vehicle

If you are a taxi driver, you will undoubtedly be concerned about the dramatic drop in passenger demand as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Movement has been greatly restricted to prevent the spread of the virus, while the public are urged to isolate in their homes.

At this challenging time, we all need to rally together to support our communities and do what we can to help. Taxis are in a great position to offer support. They can help the most vulnerable, support local businesses and ease pressure on other services.

Whilst following government advice, how can taxi drivers help and remain safe whilst finding new ways to keep working during the crisis?

Deliver groceries to the elderly and most vulnerable individuals

The more people stay in, the more goods they need delivered to their homes. Unprecedented demand is putting enormous operational pressure on delivery services, leading to long delays. Taxi vehicles are perfectly positioned to help ease this pressure.

Drivers could offer shopping trips for the elderly and most vulnerable who are unable to leave their homes and go to supermarkets or stores. They could team up with local supermarkets and food stores and deliver groceries or food boxes to high-risk individuals or pick up ‘click and collect’ food orders that customers have made online.

This is a particularly good option for those drivers who want to avoid all contact with passengers during the outbreak but still want to support their community. Additionally, it helps to limit visits to supermarkets and keeps people safe at home.

Help essential workers get to work

For certain people, travel remains vital during the crisis. Healthcare workers and other key workers are at the frontline working in challenging and uncertain circumstances. Many of them will be working long and irregular shifts and face difficulties commuting to work due to restricted public transport. Taxis can provide safe and direct transport to and from work for these essential workers and support them at this critical time. It may be worth contacting these frontline organisations and offer these services directly to them and their staff.  This could include Car Share Schemes to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by using fewer vehicles to get to and from work.

Team up with local restaurants and takeaways

There is now a higher demand for takeaways as an increasing number of people are isolating in their homes. This presents a potential opportunity for drivers to team up with local restaurants and takeaways to fill the vehicle-supply gap during the crisis and fulfil delivery orders. By offering additional delivery services for restaurants, drivers would not only create an alternative way to continue work but they would also be supporting local businesses, helping to keep them afloat while also helping those in need.

Collect and deliver medication

The elderly and people with underlying health issues need to take extra precautions to self-isolate and protect themselves and are being urged to not leave their homes. These are the same people that regularly need prescription medication. Drivers could help these high-risk individuals by collecting their medication from local pharmacies and delivering it to their homes. Pharmacies are struggling to deliver the high volume of prescription medication required during the outbreak and therefore require extra delivery support. Drivers could contact their local independent pharmacies and offer their services as pharmacies may not have thought to contact taxi drivers.

Take patients to essential medical appointments

Drivers can also support their community by taking patients to essential medical appointments. This would ease the burden on emergency services, allowing them to focus on the most urgent cases. For people with serious health conditions, it is necessary that they are able to go to their medical appointments as they cannot afford to miss vital treatments or surgeries. By repurposing taxis, it will help to ensure that individuals with underlying health issues can attend critical appointments for treatments such as chemotherapy and dialysis. Again, drivers can also contact doctor’s surgeries directly to offer their services.

Preventative steps for taxi drivers

It is essential that drivers take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and their passengers, especially if they are transporting people who have been exposed to the virus, such as health workers. This list not a fully comprehensive list, so do heed government and your local authority advice too

Taxi drivers could take the following steps to prevent transmission of the coronavirus:

  • Ask passengers to sit in the back of the vehicle and keep their distance
  • Clean and disinfect the vehicle regularly, preferably after every ride
  • Discourage cash payments to reduce all physical contact
  • Ask all passengers to use hand sanitiser when they first get in the vehicle
  • Only take individual passengers or groups of two
  • Ask passengers if they have symptoms
  • Wear protective gear if transporting health workers or those with symptoms

Check Your Taxi Insurance Policy Before You Begin

Each taxi insurer will have their own necessary conditions that will be need to checked by taxi drivers to make sure they are insured correctly. Some taxi insurance policies will allow taxi drivers to deliver independent takeaway premises food, groceries, parcels and medical prescriptions during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

As another option, some insurers are allowing the downgrading of insurance policies by restricting a driver’s cover for social domestic and pleasure purposes only – though this is only temporary. There are many options available for taxi drivers, so just make contact with your insurance brokers and make sure you are insured correctly for undertaking any of the alternate uses for your taxi.

For further actions you can take regarding your existing taxi insurance cover, such as downgrading in the event your taxi is declared SORN, please see our COVID-19 vehicle insurance page for further information. Drivers can upgrade again when the COVID-19 advice is updated by the government.

Although it is a particularly challenging time for taxi drivers, there are still some opportunities for them to keep earning while also doing what they can to support their communities. They can think about offering rides at discounted prices/for free for vulnerable individuals and key workers, or contacting local businesses to create delivery partnerships. In times of crisis, taxi drivers really can make a difference.