The past few weeks unfortunately supported my contention in last month’s editorial: that our industry must remain vigilant to avoid getting stung by ill-informed legislation, unpleasant surprises and even the unexpected consequences of changes we knew were coming down the pike.

The Dangers of Vigilantism

In February, StreetsBlog NYC reported that City Council Member Lincoln Restler was re-introducing a bill (originally titled Intro 501) to allow people to receive a 25% bounty on violation fees for reporting drivers who block bike or bus lanes near a school entrance. The “vigilante” aspect of the bill had been removed when it originally went through the legislative process last year… and for good reason.

Restler said he wants to make “our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians,” which is an admirable goal we should all support. The problem is, the drivers in our industry are allowed, by law, to “quickly” pick up and drop off clients in those lanes – and some of those clients may need a little extra time and a helping hand to safely exit the vehicle. A photo from an overzealous vigilante will not tell the real story.

In the finalized first version of the original bill, would-be complainants would also be required to first take a DOT digital training course before becoming eligible to file a complaint. And those people were required to have “a New York State driver’s license, a New York State non-driver identification card, or a New York City identity card.” Those items were stripped out of the current version.

Restler also wants to extend the radius from 1,320-feet from a school entrance to 2,640 feet, “effectively making the entire city a playing field for citizen reporters who want to hold drivers accountable and get 25% of the resulting tickets as a potentially very lucrative bounty,” StreetsBlog NYC recently noted.

The fate of the bill has yet to be decided, but the consequences for our industry’s drivers could be dire. Let me also add that NYPD came out against the vigilante aspect of the bill the first time around, for fear of violent confrontations. If Restler doesn’t understand the logic of that, or the fact that TLC-regulated drivers performing LEGAL pickups and drop-offs would be a prime target, I’m not sure what to say. Let’s hope it doesn’t pass into law.

Insurance Rates Spike

For months now, most of us have been reading (or writing) about the fact that insurance rates are increasing dramatically for many TLC-regulated drivers this year. The increased cost of automotive repairs and the fact that New York is “no-fault” state are the primary reasons being blamed for what has been estimated as a 10% to 30% increase for drivers and fleets.

Media outlet, AutoMarketplace recently noted the following:

  • Individual liability rates in 2024 are mostly between $4,000 to $5,500 per year.
  • Fleet liability rates in 2024 are mostly between $6,000 to $9,000 per year.
  • Fleet “CAP” policy rates are mostly between $8,000 to $11,000 per year.

AutoMarketplace also outlined how TLC liability premiums are determined, noting that there are many factors, including (but not limited to):

  • Years you’ve had a DMV and/or TLC license
  • Number of active DMV points on your record
  • Record of accidents, including pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Whether accidents are at-fault or not at-fault
  • If your policy is in an individual name or corporate entity
  • If you have an “undisclosed driver” claim or one where the person listed on the policy is different than the person driving the vehicle during the accident
  • The age of your vehicle
  • The weight of your vehicle
  • Whether you’ve taken a Defensive Driving Course (DDC)
  • What rate increase the State insurance regulator approves
  • Loss run history

As they say, accidents do happen – particularly if you spend endless hours on NYC streets – but anything resembling a 30% year-over-year increase could be crippling.

Uber Sues Industry’s Largest Insurer

Amid the mayhem of spiking insurance rates, Uber brought a lawsuit against American Transit Insurance Co. (ATIC) in February, claiming the company has a “pattern and practice of failing to adhere to reasonable claims-handling practices and failing to reasonably resolve claims and lawsuits on its insureds’ behalf,” according to an article in Insurance Journal.

AutoMarketplace estimates that ATIC insures more than 60% of all NYC TLC-plated vehicles, so regardless of how the suit turns out, it’s just more uncertainty and confusion in an industry struggling to catch a break.

Let’s not forget Congestion Pricing is expected to kick in this June, adding even more anxiety.

Well, at least Spring is coming this month. In the meantime, stay safe and take care of yourself. Hopefully, I’ll have better news to report next month.

Article by Neil Weiss

Neil Weiss is the Editor/Publisher/Owner of Black Car News and Livery Times. He has been involved in the ground transportation industry since 1991, writing thousands of articles on a wide variety of subjects.

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