Most people get their budgets destroyed every month by mortgage payments or rents they can barely afford. Taxi drivers and taxi owners, instead, get ulcers over the outrageous cost of taxi insurance. Premiums for taxi cover, like the National Debt, only get bigger.

You can blame the insurance companies: hating insurance companies is a global pastime anyway. But these companies want to cover their potential losses on vehicles often driven by multiple drivers. On any given day, the driver pool for one cab could include a junkie new to recovery, someone whose wife just ran off with postman, a cousin of a 9/11 terrorist barely one step ahead of the UK Border Agency, and a female driver with PMS.

This gang doesn't do the kind of driving your instructor taught you about!

Add to this the fact that taxi drivers and the folks who own their cabs want to accept as many fares as they can. They work on what manufacturers call "piece work." This means that the more fares they accept and the more death-defying transport through the city or out to the airport they provide, the more money everybody makes - including the insurance companies turning all that risk into higher premiums.

Insurance rates are also boosted by the value of the cab itself. Built with the wear-and-tear they will take in mind, taxis are reinforced beyond the standards of regular cars precisely because taxi manufacturers understand that these vehicles face unusual challenges, from routinely driving over pavements, to rolling off exit ramps at high speeds, and - depending on what city the taxi calls "home"-- an occasional barrage of crossfire.

Then there are the internal amenities of the taxi which add to its replacement cost: the elaborate GPS setup - another distraction for the already distracted driver - the privacy window in some cabs so the driver doesn't have to hear the moans of passengers having sex in the back seat, and those elaborate door locks to shackle in passengers trying to do a quick runner.

As they say, pretty soon we're talking about real money.

Beyond all this, taxi owners aren't obsessed with changing the oil or checking the brake pads and tyres on cabs on a regular schedule. A taxi on a lift in a garage isn't earning its keep.

So there are now three things you can count on: death, taxes and rising taxi insurance costs. Strap yourself in; it's bound to continue to be a bumpy - and expensive - ride!

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