SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 25, 2013

Cab firm questions bylaw on insurance

(Continued)

Len Alkins, senior manager, general accounts group, for Lighthouse Insurance Agency, said coverage of $1 million is “just not available.”

While the state’s commercial automobile insurance manual says “higher limits are available at the option of the insurer,” Alkins said high limits are cost-prohibitive, even at the $250,000/$500,000 level, the highest the state and private insurers will go.

McKinnon said each of his 12 taxis is covered for $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. He pays a premium of $10,000 for each taxi, or $120,000 for the fleet. McKinnon said he does carry $1 million coverage on three limousines at a cost of $14,000 for all three cars, or $4,600 a vehicle. The lower premiums and higher limits for limo and livery vehicles reflect the fact that the cars are unmarked and intended to simply bring people to the airport, McKinnon said.

McKinnon said his cabs do not pick up fares off the street in Danvers. In the past, he had inquired about getting a cab license, but it was his impression that as long as he did not pick up unscheduled fares, he could operate.

He estimates that his company has picked up at least 200 fares from the Danvers Police Department in the past couple of years, at least one person a week. When police first called his company to pick up at the station, he said he spoke with a dispatcher and was told his company did not have a license.

“At the time, they didn’t care,” McKinnon said. “They needed people picked up.”

Until last week, police had not conducted a compliance check on taxicabs since before McKinnon started his company in September 2010.

Selectmen Chairman Bill Clark said it’s likely that town counsel will take a look at the bylaw but maintains that taxi companies should have sought the proper permits all along.

“If they had a problem getting insurance,” he said, “they should have gone to (Town Clerk) Joe Collins.”

Selectmen meet tomorrow in Town Hall, 1 Sylvan St., at 7 p.m.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

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