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CUT AND SHUT CABS: LTDA highlights the rising risks of write-off taxi vehicle licensing

In the past weeks, there has been a record number of new cabs sold and correspondingly, the second-hand cab market is booming. Sadly, a few cabbies who were not LTDA members, purchased cabs, (one knowingly and one not), that had previously been written off by insurance companies and then repaired. These vehicles were presented for licensing at NSL and were refused licences on the grounds that the vehicle was 'unsafe' to be used as a licensed taxi. I am also aware there have been a rise in similar instances concerning private hire vehicles.

Second-hand cabs

If you are considering buying a second-hand taxi that is not currently licensed or is licensed outside of London, it is essential that you contact the LTDA before committing to the purchase. One of the services we offer to members is a free HPI check on taxi purchases. We can then advise if the vehicle has been damaged or is the subject of outstanding finance – again, another area where you could lose out...

Be vigilant when buying a second-hand cab, I would say most of the time when you are buying a cab from another driver it would be fine, but sometimes can go badly wrong with you being left out of pocket. The option for buying second-hand is especially good for those drivers that want the freedom to work part time 3-4 days a week but be aware of certain pitfalls that may arise when buying any taxi, full stop.

Purchase precautions

There are certain precautions you should take to safeguard any potential investment. I was a motor engineer and qualified to a prominent level when repairing vehicles utilising specialised measuring equipment that would be needed to repair a vehicle that had been involved in a serious accident back to a roadworthy standard. These days, insurance companies are more than likely to make the decision not to repair older vehicles due to the cost of obtaining parts and the man hours needed to repair it at official insurance company rates. In these cases, the insurance company would put the vehicle on the DVLA register as an uneconomical repair, formerly known as a category D – but that has now changed to a category N.

The Category N is classed as the lesser damage, so if you were going to buy a taxi with a history of this kind, this is the one you would need to buy. When buying the cab, you will need to follow certain guidance to have the taxi licenced.

If you are considering doing this, I implore you, before you hand over any cash, to please call me (Anthony) to help. Being an LTDA member is all about us protecting your interests, please make use of it!

But now things are very different in our trade. Unlike the old TX4s, the new vehicle, the TXe is loaded with gadgets and technology. What comes with that are parts that are extremely expensive, and it may not always be as simple to write off a TXe and the insurance companies may make the decision to repair the taxi, which in turn can bring about issues for drivers if the process is not managed correctly. Only the most severely damaged taxi would be classed as a total loss and can only be sold for parts, but the body and shell of the vehicle must be crushed and must never be put back on the road.

The simple guide that follows demonstrates what the damaged vehicle or taxi is classed as, if the insurance company decide to write the vehicle off due to it being considered unsafe or uneconomical to repair. There are four categories of a total loss that an engineer can class a damaged vehicle as:

  • Category A: Severe damage with no serviceable parts, the vehicle must be crushed.

  • Category B: The vehicle has major structural damage and the repairs cost more than the value of the vehicle. Parts can be salvaged from the vehicle, but it cannot be re-sold or used on the public roads.

  • Category S: The vehicle is repairable, but the cost of repairs is higher than the value of the vehicle. The damage may include structural damage leading to the excessive cost of repair.

  • Category N: The vehicle can be repaired and only has minor damage, but the cost of repairs is a considerable proportion of the vehicle’s market value.

Once the vehicle has been deemed a total loss by the engineer, the fault party’s insurer will offer a settlement equivalent to the pre-accident market value of the vehicle. An insurance write- off is usually best avoided, but I do understand why some drivers may investigate this avenue, especially now we have lost three years on the life of a working cab but do your homework and contact the LTDA.

We have had members that have purchased a cab that’s been written off and when they have come to get it licenced, TfL have put up a brick wall and the driver has been requested to provide paperwork that they don’t always have. Before you put yourself in the situation, it’s all ways best to call the LTDA and speak to me in order to obtain the correct guidance on how to get through this process.


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