Aldermen shoot down request to lower cab insurance requirements

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 18, 2018

Last month, the Oxford Board of Aldermen told an owner of a local taxi company they would look into his request to lower insurance requirements for taxicab owners to help them stay competitive with online ride companies like Uber and Lyft.

Currently, the Vehicle for Hire ordinance mandates cab drivers carry no less than $100,000 for the death or injury, $300,000 total public liability and $100,000 for property damage.

Alfonzo Jordan, the owner of Zoe’s Taxi, asked the aldermen in December to consider reducing the required coverage for public liability to $100,000.

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After researching what some other areas require and comparing premium rates, the aldermen decided to leave the requirement as they are by remaining silent when Mayor Robyn Tannehill called for a motion to change the insurance requirements.

Parking Director Matt Davis presented his findings to the aldermen on the research he did in regard to the insurance requirements. In the report, liability requirements ranged from $20,000 in Tupelo and Meridian to $500,000 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Pascagoula and New Orleans have the same requirements as Oxford.

Davis said he couldn’t make a recommendation to change the requirements.

“I’d hate to say change them and then something happens a week later,” he said.

In December, Jordan told the aldermen that making a living as a cab driver is becoming more difficult because of “fake” Uber drivers who are operating as vehicles for hire without having to follow any laws.

They’re operating as private taxis, giving out business cards and taking calls without using the Uber app and not following Uber guidelines,” Jordan said in December. “They’re not following any rules – the city’s or Uber’s.”

Jordan did not speak at Wednesday’s meeting.

In April 2016, Gov. Phil Bryant signed HB1381 into law, which puts the state’s Insurance Department in charge of regulating transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, meaning they don’t have to follow local city requirements.

“It puts them (Uber and Lyft drivers) at an unfair advantage,” Tannehill said Wednesday.

Tannehill said the board considered a similar request two years ago by another taxi owner, but the board voted at that time to leave the requirements as is.

“They felt a lot of work had gone into determining the best requirements for Oxford,” she said before asking for a motion that wasn’t made by the aldermen.