Limerick taxi firm 'faces closure' over insurance hikes

David Hurley


David Hurley

THE owner of a Limerick city taxi firm, whose plight was highlighted in the Dail earlier this year, says he may be forced out of business as a direct result of increases in his insurance costs.

Tom Hannon whose company, Tower Cabs, has a fleet of eight taxis has seen his insurance rise a massive 700% from €7,000 in 2013 to €56,000 this year.

While he did manage to secure a lower quotation last year, that insurer has since left the Irish Market.

“It’s crazy. I had eight cars insured for €7,000, then it went to €14,000, €16,000, and then last year, it went to €56,000. There was no explanation,” he said.

The 62-year-old, who has not had a claim in almost 12 years, says he does not expect to be in business next year if his company’s insurance premium continues to shoot up.

“I can’t see myself in the taxi business, if it continues like this I’ll have to let the business go, it’s too hard,”he said adding that he will try his best to keep going.

Speaking in the Dail before the summer recess, Deputy Niall Collins highlighted the plight of Tom Hannon and called for the re-establishment of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board, MIAB.

“People must have certainty about what they will have to pay for insurance and business must have certainty about its insurance costs,” he said, adding:  “I realise the taxi business is a high risk industry and that there have been many high-profile cases involving taxis, but this man has an 11-year no-claims bonus.”

The Garryowen man, who has eight driver working for him, says his predicament is causing him great stress.

“It’s affecting my health. I’m feeling miserable, stressed the whole time, and depressed,” said the taxi driver who has more than 30 years of experience in the taxi industry.

As ordinary drivers across Limerick and up and down the country are aso being hit with significant increases in their insurance premiums, the motor insurance industry was the focus of a major investigation on UTV Ireland last night.

An increase in road fatalities, high legal fees and court orders are all being blamed for the increases as is the high number of motorists who do not have insurance. 

Meanwhile, the highlighting of Tom Hannon’s predicament comes less than a week after another well-known taxi driver, Alfie Earls, revealed his insurance premium has increased by €2,000 this year.

“Last year I paid €2,300 and I didn't have an accident so I was thinking that it might fall down again this year. I thought they would be rewarding good drivers, safe drivers I was totally wrong. It went straight up by €2,000," the former peacekeeper said.

While there are no official figures, it is estimated that around 90 taxi drivers in the Limerick area left the industry over the past 12 months.

“I’m working at a loss this year, between insurance, licence renewal, tax, service and maintenance, and radios,” said Tom Hannon who says he will struggle to make a living this year.