May 19, 2011 |

Borough discusses taxi insurance

A Haines Borough requirement of $500,000 general liability insurance for commercial passenger vehicles is tied to the costs of medevac emergencies, borough manager Mark Earnest said at a Haines Borough Assembly commerce committee meeting last week.

The committee on May 10 looked at insurance costs for taxi services in the borough, following a request from resident Ned Rozbicki.

The borough’s $500,000 standard applies to one person per incident. Earnest said the requirement costs each business about $2,000 a year in premiums, and he said $100,000 in general liability insurance would cost approximately $1,600 annually.

Earnest said if the insurance requirement were set too low, the borough could be held liable for additional costs.

"They would come back and say, ‘Borough, you were negligent, because you knew that a medevac was $100,000, and that doesn’t cover any hospital care, so we’re suing you for all the medical,’" he said.

Earnest said comparisons to rates in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau aren’t valid due to the accessibility of hospitals there.

He said any taxi businesses in Haines currently must go through the commercial tour permit process, whether or not they offer tours.

Earnest said one option to potentially lower insurance costs would be to separate taxis out under a different permit process from both tours and commercial passenger vehicles as a "vehicle for hire," like what is done in Sitka and Skagway.

The $500,000 requirement in Haines falls between the $200,000 set in Sitka and $1 million in Skagway, he said.

Committee members said a separate permit for taxis might end up being too restrictive by preventing an operator from using a taxi for tours, as well.