Insured taxis get green light 

click to enlarge Over 500 taxis in San Francisco are insured again after a brief lapse in an insurance policy.
  • Over 500 taxis in San Francisco are insured again after a brief lapse in an insurance policy.

After being left in the lurch for a day without valid insurance, more than 500 cabs returned to San Francisco streets Thursday with the required coverage to operate.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates cabs, ordered the 525 taxis off the street for Wednesday, after it was discovered a policy to cover the mandated $1 million insurance coverage for each cab had expired Tuesday night. Despite the threat of fines and permit revocation, an untold number of the cabs continued to operate.

However, by late Thursday morning, Dmitry Erenkov, the insurance broker for the 525 taxis, was able to secure the $1 million coverage plan for the cabs, according to Mark Gruberg and Rich Hybels, founders of Green Cab and Metro Cab, respectively. Those companies were two of the largest collectives affected by the policy lapse. Overall, about one-third of The City’s 1,500 taxis were temporarily left without insurance Wednesday.

Gruberg said the new insurance coverage is retroactive to Aug. 1, meaning any claims against the company in the past two days would be paid for by the policy. However, he noted that renewing the insurance came at a much greater cost for the company.

“It is our understanding that most, if not all, of the insurance issues will be resolved by Friday,” said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose. “We will continue to monitor the situation to help ensure that all San Francisco taxis are properly insured.”

Even though the new insurance plan wasn’t secured until late Thursday morning, cabs were still out in high numbers during the day.

At the Westin St. Francis on Union Square, the line for taxis stretched around the block, offering no indication that one-third of The City’s fleet were supposed to be grounded.

“Everything seems to be pretty much the same,” said Peter Ng, a concierge at the Westin. “We’ve still got plenty of cabs lined up waiting to pick people up.”

The insurance lapse affected mostly owner-operator vehicles — cabs that are not owned by large companies such as Yellow Cab and DeSoto. Gruberg said he didn’t find out about the pending policy lapse until Tuesday — the day before it was set to expire. The SFMTA was made aware of the problem on the same day, resulting in the agency sending out a bulletin ordering all affected cabs to stay off the road at all times of the day.

Taxi trouble

  • 1,500: Cabs in San Francisco
  • 525: Cabs in San Francisco that had insurance issue
  • 35 percent: Level of San Francisco cabs affected by insurance lapse
  • 5,000: Taxi drivers in San Francisco
  • $1 million: Minimum liability insurance coverage required by The City

Source: SFMTA, various cab companies

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Will Reisman

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