insurance

Childcare providers and Nursery schools

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Do you work in the pre-school education sector or provide childcare services? As a childcare provider you are surely aware that carrying children can mean having to find space in your vehicle not only for the children in your care, but also for all of the possessions they bring with them such as toys, nappies or pushchairs. This is one of the reasons why many people have found that having a larger vehicle for their business is an essential part of the service they offer.

Here at the Minibus Club we have a range of insurance policies which are tailor made for your requirements. We can offer insurance for a number of types of vehicles including both minibuses and smaller MPV type vehicles. We have used our expertise, experience and technical knowledge to develop products that offer suitable cover for this important and specialised area. So if you need to buy minibus insurance give us a call so we can discuss your needs.

Whatever type of vehicle you have it is important that your minibus insurance covers all of your activities. As a specialist minibus insurance provider The Minibus Club can offer you a policy that is designed for the needs of nursery schools and childcare providers.

When considering your insurance the first thing to check is whether your vehicle may be considered a minibus. If your vehicle has nine or more passenger seats it will be considered a minibus. For this type of vehicle you may need a PSV Operators Licence. More information on this type of licence can be obtained from The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) who issue PSV licences. VOSA can be contacted online at http://www.vosa.gov.uk

Once you have identified whether you need additional licences to operate your minibus you should also consider who is likely to drive the vehicle. The Minibus Club can (depending on your circumstances) offer you cover for as few as one driver or an unlimited number of drivers with our any driver policies. The type of driving licence your drivers will need will again be dictated by the number of seats fitted in your vehicle.

• If your vehicle is an MPV with no more than eight passenger seats your driver will need a car (category B) driving licence.
• For those operating under a PSV Operators Licence your drivers will need a full, unrestricted minibus (D1) entitlement. This is obtained by taking a second driving test in a minibus.
• If you do have a minibus but do not need a PSV Operators Licence your driver will still usually need a minibus (D1) entitlement. However in some situations a driver may be able to legally drive your vehicle with only a car (category B) driving licence. If you think your drivers may be able to use this exemption they should seek advice from either the DVLA if you live in England, Scotland or Wales or from the DVA if you live in or if you live in Northern Ireland.

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This article was brought to you by The Minibus Club. For more information about Minibus insurance visit www.minibusclub.co.uk

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Breakdown Assistance

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Did you know that you can buy breakdown assistance cover for your vehicle as an add-on to your minibus insurance? The Minibus Club offers optional breakdown assistance cover from the AA which has been specially designed for owners of larger vehicles such as minibuses. We only offer this cover when bought in combination with one of our minibus insurance policies.

Why worry about your vehicle breaking down? With our optional breakdown cover you will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your vehicle and passengers will receive assistance should the worst happen.

When you consider that motorway towing charges can be £150 if you don’t have your own breakdown cover and the average garage call out charge is £90, then breakdown cover could easily pay for itself the first time you have to use it. Having a breakdown can not only be expensive but also rather inconvenient. Imagine how frustrating it would be if you could not use your minibus, especially if you rely on it to run your business.

Some breakdown assistance policies cover you as the driver regardless of which vehicle you are driving, whereas some cover your vehicle. Our breakdown cover is specific to your vehicle and will cover anyone who is insured to drive it. This means should you breakdown in any vehicle other than the one covered on your minibus insurance policy you will not be covered.

The breakdown cover offered by the Minibus Club includes two main types of cover, Roadside and at Home. We’ll take a look at Roadside cover first.

If your minibus breaks down whilst away from home the AA will send a patrol or contractor to help you. If your vehicle cannot be repaired immediately it will be taken to a nearby authorised repairer where you can arrange for further repairs to be made. Should the AA not be able to repair your vehicle within a reasonable amount of time they will arrange to take your vehicle and any passengers in your vehicle to the destination of the driver’s choice, in one non-stop journey. This facility may also be provided if the driver of your minibus falls ill and there are no passengers who can drive the vehicle, so that the journey can be completed.

Whilst we hope you never need to use our breakdown cover your vehicle can just as easily break down whilst at home. In the event that this should happen the AA will arrange for someone to come out and help. If your vehicle cannot be repaired immediately then it will be taken to a nearby garage, where you can arrange for repairs to be carried out.

As with other breakdown recovery services you cannot claim in some situations. For a full list please click here to access the policy booklet. However the main exclusions are:

The costs of spare parts, fuel, oil, keys, or other materials and garage labour; Any vehicles that cannot be recovered by normal trailers or transport.

So if you’re thinking about buying breakdown cover for your minibus as part of your minibus insurance package don’t put it off; call us at the Minibus Club where our helpful staff will be pleased to assist you.

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This article was brought to you by The Minibus Club. For more information about Minibus insurance visit www.minibusclub.co.uk

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Care Homes. What you need to know about minibuses.

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Are you a care home that owns or operates a minibus? If you are then you will know that obtaining the right type of minibus insurance is an important part of this process. Selecting a minibus insurance policy that properly covers you can be more complex especially if you are to carry passengers in connection with your business. For this reason you may find it helpful to speak to a minibus insurance specialist such as the Minibus Club.

Did you know that in some situations you may need a Public Service Vehicle Operators Licence (commonly called an Operators licence) to legally carry passengers in your vehicle? In the majority of cases you will be operating for “hire or reward” even where your minibus users do not pay a direct fee to use your vehicle. Where your minibus has nine to sixteen passenger seats including the driver and you are a private, commercially run care home you are likely to need an Operators Licence to drive legally. More information on this subject can be obtained from VOSA either by visiting their website or by calling them on 0300 123 9000.

If you are a charity or a not for profit body you will be able to circumvent these requirements by obtaining a Section 19 Standard Permit (which was previously known as a small bus permit) or if you operate in Northern Ireland a Section 10B permit.

It is possible to avoid the need for either of these permits completely if you operate a smaller vehicle such as a multi purpose vehicle (“MPV”) which has no more than eight passenger seats. These smaller vehicles fall outside the licensing remit of VOSA and as such can be operated without their involvement.

Once you have identified whether you need additional licences to operate your minibus you should also consider who is likely to drive you vehicle. The Minibus Club can (depending on your circumstances) offer you cover for as few as one driver or an unlimited number of drivers with our any driver policies. The type of driving licence your drivers will need will again be dictated by the number of seats fitted in your vehicle.

• If your vehicle is an MPV with no more than eight passenger seats your drivers will need a car (category B) driving licence.
• For care homes operating under a PSV Operators Licence your drivers will need a full, unrestricted minibus (D1) entitlement. This is obtained by taking a second driving test in a minibus.
• For care homes operating under a Section 19 or Section 10B permit your drivers will normally need a minibus (D1) entitlement. However in some situations a driver may be able to legally drive your vehicle with only a car (category B) driving licence. If you think your drivers may be able to use this exemption they should seek advice from either the DVLA or (in Northern Ireland) the DVA.

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This article was brought to you by The Minibus Club. For more information about Minibus insurance visit www.minibusclub.co.uk

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Minibus Insurance: Hire and reward licensing

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Buying the right type of minibus insurance for your vehicle can be a challenge, especially if you use your minibus for hire and reward. At the Minibus Club we are specialists in offering hire and reward minibus insurance.

A minibus driven for hire and reward is licensed by one of a number of organisations depending on where your business is located and how many seats your vehicle has. If your minibus has eight or less passenger seats then the vehicle is in effect a minicab and will be licensed by your local authority or if you operate in the Greater London area by Transport for London (“TfL”). Where this is the case you will also need to obtain a private hire driver’s licence or a hackney carriage licence to drive your minibus, these can be obtained either from TfL or your local authority.

If however your minibus is designed or adapted to carry nine or more passengers and does so for hire and reward it is a public service vehicle. This type of minibus requires a different licence which is called a Public Service Vehicle Operators licence and is sometimes abbreviated to PSV-O or PSV. These licences are issued by VOSA the national government agency responsible for licensing larger commercial vehicles.

VOSA define hire or reward as “When an operator or owner driver takes payment which gives a passenger a right to be carried on the vehicle regardless of whether a profit is made or not. The payment may be made by the passenger, or on the passenger’s behalf. It may be (a) a direct payment (e.g. a fare) or (b) an indirect payment (this could be an exchange for services such as a membership subscription to a club, payment for a bed in a hotel, school fees or payment for concert tickets where travel is included; the payment does not have to be money and the right to travel does not need to be taken up).”

The above definition takes in a wide range of minibus operators who may not think that they operate vehicle for hire and reward when in fact they do. Even if you do not take cash from passengers in your minibus you could still be operating a public service vehicle and if you don’t have hire and reward minibus insurance you could be driving illegally. This means that it is important to check whether your vehicle needs to be licensed by speaking to the appropriate agency. You should also explain exactly how your vehicle will be used when getting quotes for your minibus insurance.

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This article was brought to you by The Minibus Club. For more information about Minibus insurance visit www.minibusclub.co.uk

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Continuous Insurance Enforcement

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Driving your vehicle on a road or in a public place without minibus insurance is an offence, so it is important to ensure your vehicle is insured. In this article we would like to explain why this is important and how you can stay on the right side of the law.

It is estimated that there are two million motorists on our roads driving without insurance. These uninsured drivers cause £380 million damage each year which results in large numbers of claims to the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). Uninsured driving increases the cost of everybody’s insurance adding approximately £30 to each policy, including your minibus insurance.

To try and cut the number of uninsured drivers on UK roads the government recently introduced a package of measures which will crack down on those driving without insurance which means it is more important than ever that you make sure you have a valid minibus insurance policy.

This is called Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) and it means that it is now a legal requirement for you to insure your minibus at all times.

It is now a legal offence to keep a minibus without insurance unless you have notified the DVLA that your vehicle is being kept off the road and have a valid Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). You don’t have to be driving to be caught, simply owning the minibus and not having insurance can lead to you being prosecuted.

If you fail to keep your vehicle insured the DVLA will write and tell you that you must either buy a minibus insurance policy or declare your minibus off road.

If you should ever receive one of these letters it is important that you deal with it immediately. You will not receive another warning before more formal action is taken.

Some of the punishments introduced for failing to have minibus insurance include:
• Being issued a fixed penalty of £100
• Your minibus could be clamped, or even seized and disposed of.
• You can receive a court prosecution with a maximum fine of £1,000.

When you buy a minibus insurance policy your insurer will automatically send details of insurance to the proper database automatically so if your vehicle is already taxed you will not need to do anything else.

However if your vehicle is not already insured you must:
• buy a minibus insurance policy immediately;
• make a SORN, if the vehicle is not used on the road; or
• notify DVLA if you are no longer the registered keeper.

If you own a minibus it’s easy to ensure that these new rules don’t catch you out. If you still need to buy your minibus insurance don’t put it off call us at the Minibus Club where our helpful staff will be pleased to assist you.

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If you’d like to save money on your minibus insurance look no further than The Minibus Club. Why not visit their website to receive a free online quote for minibus insurance.

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Minibus Insurance and the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ)

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

As a minibus driver you already know that having a larger vehicle is more complex than owning other types of vehicle. Even after you have bought a minibus insurance policy there are other legal issues to consider.

Did you know that from 3rd January 2012 anyone driving a diesel minibus with more than 9 seats in the borders of the Greater London Authority will have to pay a daily charge or risk being fined? This area is called the Low Emission Zone (LEZ); it operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year and was introduced to encourage diesel vehicles driving within Greater London to become cleaner.

The aim of the LEZ is to improve the health and quality of life of everyone in London by limiting the amount of particulate matter (pollution) that comes from the exhausts of diesel vehicles. Particulate matter is a type of pollution which can contribute to asthma, heart and lung disease, other respiratory illnesses and even early death.

If your minibus has more than 9 seats, was first registered before 1 January 2002 and is powered by a diesel engine it will be affected by the Low Emission Zone (LEZ). It doesn’t matter whether your minibus is used for commercial or private purposes – it will still need to meet the new standards. So if you own or drive this type of minibus, and do not want to pay the daily charge you will need to take action now to ensure you can continue to use your minibus.

The quickest way to check if your vehicle meets the current or new standards is to enter your registration plate into the Transport for London vehicle checker

If after checking with Transport for London you find that your minibus does not meet the new standards you will have to pay £100 for each day your vehicle is in the LEZ or risk being fined £500.

It is possible to avoid paying the daily charge if you take action now to modify your minibus. There are a number of options available that include fitting a particulate filter to your vehicle or having your minibus converted to run on pure gas. Transport for London offer a lot of useful information on their website on how you can modify your vehicle to meet the new requirements of the LEZ.

Don’t forget though that any modification to your vehicle can affect your minibus insurance, so please remember to notify your minibus insurance company of any changes you make to your vehicle.

The Minibus Club are working in partnership with Transport for London to bring you this information. Transport for London is the local government body responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London. Its role is to implement the transport strategy and to manage transport services across London. For advice the Low Emission Zone visit http://www.tfl.gov.uk/lezlondon or call 0845 607 0009.

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If you’d like to save money on your minibus insurance look no further than The Minibus Club. Why not visit their website to receive a free online quote for minibus insurance.

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Bargain or Burden? How to Buy a Used Minibus

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

When buying a secondhand minibus, you can bag yourself a bargain or burden yourself with an expensive liability. The former, happy outcome isn’t difficult to achieve and these tips will help you make the right choice. Remember that the costs don’t end with buying the vehicle alone. Budget for essentials such as minibus insurance.

The first tip is to know what you’re looking for. You can save a lot of time, effort and money by seeing only minibuses that fulfill your needs. Most advertisements give you enough information to rule out those vehicles that aren’t suitable.

Once you’ve made a short list of likely buys, treat them all in the same way, by examining the candidates using these guidelines.

Has the vehicle been the subject of a minibus insurance claim? Look very closely at the bodywork, for ripples, mismatches in the paint colour and poorly fitting body panels. Stray patches of paint under the wheel arches or beneath the bonnet are a dead giveaway. Rust is far less of a problem than it used to be but can be present on older or maltreated minibuses. Look out for poor rust repairs.

Has the minibus been neglected? Dip the engine oil, which should be a clear, golden-brown colour. Tarry black oil has been in the sump a long time and is a cue to look elsewhere. Other mechanical problems can be betrayed by the presence of leaks beneath the vehicle. Remember that oil, water and brake fluid can all leak: they shouldn’t.

While near ground level, examine the minibus’s tyres. They must have a minimum of 3mm of tread and no cracking, crazing, splits or lumps in the sidewalls. Remember that a full set of tyres is a costly investment. Look out for strange wear patterns in the treads; these can indicate suspension or steering problems.

The inside of a minibus can tell you a lot about the vehicle’s history. Modern trim materials are tough so if you see wear, cuts and splits, be wary. These suggest the minibus has had a hard life and/or is a high-mileage example. If the steering wheel rim and pedal rubbers are (a) worn smooth or (b) look suspiciously new, look at the mileometer. If its figures aren’t aligned properly, or if the instrument panel has scratches or damaged fastenings, there’s every chance the minibus has been clocked…the mileage has been wound back.

When test driving, use a vehicle as you mean to use it – a five-minute trip around the block isn’t enough. Make sure the minibus’s engine is fully warmed and establish that everything works to your expectations.

If you find yourself seriously considering buying a particular minibus, carefully check its documentation. Are the claimed service records there and do they look genuine? Does the VIN number on the registration tally with that on the vehicle? Motor dealers usually offer an HPI check but if buying privately, think carefully about having one carried out. This will reveal any questionable history.

Using the above and a little care, you’ll be able to make an informed purchase. Then, all you need do is inform a good minibus insurance provider of your purchase.

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If you’d like to save money on your minibus insurance look no further than The Minibus Club. Why not visit their website to receive a free online quote for minibus insurance.

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Spring Cleaning is a Kind of Minibus Insurance

Friday, March 25th, 2011

There’s a distressingly easy way to turn an asset into a liability. All you need to do is neglect it. This is especially relevant now we are about to enjoy the benefits of Spring. Yes, the season officially begins on the 20th March. You may have ‘bomb-proof ‘minibus insurance, and your minibus may seem to be perfectly fit for its allotted task. However, when we look a little more closely, you will begin to see why that asset – your minibus – might need some attention to stop it from becoming a liability.

The central issue here is that machines object to two things – idleness and neglect. If your minibus has had a restful time over the winter, it could prove sulky when you put it back into service. Equally, if it has served you frequently through the ravages of winter, it may require some tender loving care so it can continue to serve you for the rest of the year. Think of your caring for the vehicle as a form of minibus insurance, in that you will be insuring against breakdowns and/or mechanical failures.

The first step is to think of what your minibus has just been through, even if it was little used. Repeated or enduring spells of freezing or near-freezing temperatures take their toll on any machine. Your minibus’s battery and electrical system will have suffered from increased loads, and its mechanical and structural parts will have paid a price.

Matters are worse still if your minibus has been in use throughout the winter. The local authority will certainly have kept the roads (or most of them) open for you. To do this, they’ll have used an aggressive mix of chemicals on the roads’ surfaces. This melts the ice but it also accelerates corrosion, as you might expect compounds such as Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride and Calcium Chloride – or a mixture of all three – to do. These materials, and of course, ice and snow, can also give your windscreen wipers a hard time. Moreover, the minibus’s electrical components will have worked much harder. Why? How often did you use your lights, rear windscreen heater, cab heater and so on?

The practical overture to this kind of minibus insurance is a really thorough wash. It makes sense to use a jet wash, if there is one available; some offer hot water, which is a bonus. Give your minibus a comprehensive external spring clean with one of these devices. It’s best to pay for two washing sessions, rather than just one. Use one to clean the bodywork, wheels and windows with soap and water, as usual. Them use wash number two for your minibus’s wheel arches and underside. Road salt sometimes has a sugary compound added to help it stick to tarmac, so it sticks to vehicles as well.

Similar practices apply to the inside of your minibus, particularly if it has been used through the winter months. The compounds mentioned above will have been trodden into your vehicle, to the detriment of its floor coverings and trim. Should your minibus have had little use recently, a comprehensive Hoovering may do the trick, with washing and polishing of the hard plastic trim. If the vehicle has been heavily used, it may be wise to pay for a professional valeting.

The next stage might be called a Spring service. That is another story and such treatment is best left until it’s reasonably certain that the snow and ice have gone for the year.

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