I didn't learn everything I know about taxi insurance from actuarial research. I did it the old-fashioned way: by riding in a cab that was a lemon driven by a hack who - if there is a god - is currently somewhere far away where he will never drive a cab again.

It was a hot summer's day. I had been in London on business and I was on my way to the airport to fly home to Glasgow. I was carrying an umbrella and a suitcase with nothing much in it but some business files, make up (don't panic, I'm female) and a change of clothes. You can get a cab faster in big cities if you look like you're going to the airport - a bigger fare than the few block's ride most tourists ask for. London is like that. Money doesn't just talk there; it sings the first act from Phantom Of The Opera.

I'm actually a fan of London cabs and drivers. I'm amazed at the way they weave their way through tiny spaces and ignore the death threats coming from cars they cut off. I'm amused by the way cabbies who own their own taxis decorate them. Elaborate shrines to Our Lady of Perpetual Motion or some exotic new deity the driver is revering that week.

I'm grateful when the cab is basically clean. For me, this means no sticky grime of unknown origin on the seats; no cat spray smells to gag you on a humid, wet day, and a boot that doesn't have too many bloodstains where my luggage goes.

I'm not the fussy type.

So my driver Abdul (not his real name) speeds down the M25 headed for Heathrow when suddenly the cab in front of us skids and stops short. Abdul, realizing he's not on the Indianapolis Speedway, hits his brakes, which fail, of course. In an instant we've rear-ended the cab in front of us, just before we get rear-ended by a rickety Mercedes driven by a woman older than Rome.

Almost on impact, Abdul and the other cabbie (let's call her Francine) were in the road screaming and almost coming to blows. She says Abdul had plenty of time to avoid her, he's babbling in some Middle-Eastern tongue I don't understand, something that I'm sure was about Francine's mother wearing army shoes or possibly crotchless black lace underwear under her burqa.

Thankfully, I wasn't seriously injured but I did have a gash in my leg from being hurled forward into the front seat where an old spring happened to be sticking out of the leather seat back. (Not that anyone seemed to care.) The damage to all three cars was negligible but of the costly pain-in-the-bum variety. Everyone would get home.

Holding a Kleenex over my cut, I opened the door to see if the old lady behind us was dead. Surprisingly, she was inspecting her Mercedes and, seeing no serious damage, ready to drive away. She pooh-poohed my pleas to wait for the police.

"My son's a mechanic," she said, flatly, then got back in her now-even-more-dented car and drove away.

By then, Abdul and Francine were angrily exchanging insurance information. The cops had been called, and my cut was, thankfully, coagulating (not that anyone asked.) I tried to tell Abdul I really had to catch my flight. Annoyed, he got on his taxi phone and called the office, babbled again in that language I didn't understand, then told me another cab would be there in five minutes.

Miraculously, the taxi arrived to take me to the airport even before the police had come to the accident scene. Abdul tossed my half-empty suitcase into the back seat of the new taxi, and asked me to write my name, address and telephone number on a Post-It note, "In case for the insurance..." he said, in his heavy accent. Then he tossed me into the back seat of the replacement cab, with the same smooth pitch he had used for the suitcase. My cut opened up and started to bleed again (not that anyone was worried about it.)

A week later, I got a call from the taxi insurance company. They verified my address so they could post me some forms. Those forms arrived in a few days. Basically, they were releases absolving the insurance company from future liability. No one seemed to care if I had whiplash, broken bones, or any injury. Don't believe everything the ambulance chasers tell you - a compensation claim would have cost me more than I'd get, so I signed.

I called the cab company because my umbrella was left in Abdul's trunk. He didn't work there any more, they said. It was an old umbrella, and I was getting older chasing it.

I never knew what happened to Francine or the little old lady in the Mercedes.

Moral: Never ride in a cab with a sign that says, “Driver Not Responsible For Passengers.”

Privacy policy    Disclaimer    Contact us  

Refer to discuss your taxi insurance with a real live person?
Speak to Insurance Choice on 0844 55 77 926
Insurance Choice are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Copyright 2011 taxiisuranceuk.com All Rights Reserved