Are Limo Drivers Liable for Intoxicated Passengers?

If your limo company experiences an increase of business during the holidays, you may want to pay attention. With New Year’s Eve coming up, your business may be called upon to transport customers to and from New Year’s Eve parties and bars and it may be a great opportunity for you to generate some profits. However, holidays such as New Year’s are risky for livery companies because of the risk intoxicated passengers pose to themselves and others. In order to stay safe during the holidays and avoid livery insurance claims, here is what limo drivers should know about alcohol liability with their passengers.

In Massachusetts, it’s legal for passengers who are being transported in a limousine to have open container beverages as long as they are 21 years of age or older. One aspect limo drivers must account for is making sure passengers who are not 21 are not drinking any alcohol in the limousine whatsoever. Whatever your company’s policy may be, you must make sure each passenger is the proper age. Many companies require this information to be given ahead of time when the customer is reserving the limo. Depending on your company’s policy, you may want to think about only allowing alcohol consumption when all passengers are 21 and older. That way, you mitigate the risk of having a minor consume alcohol in your vehicle without the knowledge of the driver.

Additionally, another aspect limo drivers must be careful with is transporting passengers who are intoxicated. At the end of a long night when you go to pick up your passengers from a party or bar, many may be intoxicated and you could be found liable if anything happens to them. In recent years Massachusetts courts have begun holding livery companies responsible whenever passengers they transport end up becoming injured. In one case, a limo was picking up a group from a bachelor party in Boston and after dropping one passenger off, this person subsequently got behind the wheel of a vehicle and was killed in a drunk driving accident. The court found the livery company responsible, saying that the driver should have known that the passenger would have likely gotten into a vehicle and driven.

In order to avoid any liability claims this holiday season, Wolpert Insurance & Risk Management can help you get the information you need regarding any alcohol liability and how it may affect your limo insurance. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us today.

Is Your Livery Service Tech-Savvy?

As a livery service, your goal is to get your customers from one place to another in a timely fashion. In addition, you want to make their ride as comfortable and smooth as possible. However, as more and more riders become tech-savvy, it can be beneficial for your business to do the same. What can you do to attract more customers while catering to their fast paced needs?

A recent trend that is catching on amongst city dwellers is using a car sharing service. Why? Because many feel it is a similar experience to riding in a friend’s car. This business model of ride sharing emerged from the smartphone revolution, specifically appealing to the younger generations. For example, one customer was amazed by the fact that he had his choice of music, a cold drink, and a welcoming atmosphere. Although this is a taxi-like service using a private vehicle, your business can still create a similar experience for your community.

Here are some tips on how your livery service can become more tech-savvy:

Commit to using social media. This outlet is a way for you business to really connect with your local audience. If they see you are making an effort to connect, from your marketing strategy to answering questions and addressing concerns, they will trust your services.
Hire professional drivers who not only have an understanding of the local area, but can relate to your younger customer base.
Install music devices which allow the passengers to take control of what they are listening to.
Pay attention to the interiors of your vehicles. Add comfortable seating, lights, fridges, and other devices that will make anyone’s ride enjoyable.
If you are looking to upgrade the riding experience for your customers, going a technological route is a good idea. At Wolpert Insurance, we hope these tips help you reach out to different demographics in order to expand your business. In addition, if you feel making these alterations requires more protection, we can assist you. Our agents are happy to guide you through the livery insurance process, where you can have a policy tailored to your needs. Contact us today at [[AsiPhone]] for more information!

Keeping Track of Your Livery Vehicles

As the owner of a livery fleet, you most likely have drivers in and out regularly. How can you keep track of everything that is going on when you must also manage the office? The last thing you want to happen is an accident or injury due to disorganization. Not only do you need livery insurance for protection, but also a method to keep track of your livery vehicles.

In early July, three people were hurt when an SUV crashed into the front of Burger King in East Boston. The Ford Explorer smashed into the restaurant in the early morning, leaving the victims, ages 89, 73, and 69, with injuries. Investigators reported that the driver ran away, but then came back briefly to grab a black bag from the car. However, a short time later, the owner of the SUV came to officials and claimed the Explorer was a livery vehicle, which had several drivers. Unfortunately, the man could not identify the person he had given the keys to before the crash, only calling him a “friend.”

What if such an incident occurred for your livery service? This is an example of why you should keep track of what goes on within your livery company so you can avoid liability issues and other damaging claims. You livery company should be in compliance with the FMCSA rules. If you understand these rules, then this situation would never happen, because a company cannot just hire anyone and “hand the keys to them” to operate a commercial vehicle.

The FMCSA has a set of driver qualification rules for drivers that must be met. Here are the major ones you should know:

All drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) must have the knowledge and skills necessary to operate a CMV safely. The specific types of items that a State must include in the knowledge and skills tests that it administers to CDL applicants are listed in Subpart G.
According to the FMCSA, all drivers of commercial vehicles transporting over 8 passengers must have a Driver Qualification File on file with their Employer. In addition, it must be complete for all annual audits or the Employer may be subject to fines and penalties.
Each Chauffeur must know how to not only safely operate each vehicle, but he/she must also know how to operate all controls inside of each vehicle.
No employer may knowingly allow, require, permit, or authorize a driver to operate a CMV in the United States in any of the following circumstances: (a) During any period in which the driver does not have a current CLP or CDL or does not have a CLP or CDL with the proper class or endorsements; b) During any period in which the driver has a CLP or CDL disqualified by a State; (c) During any period in which the driver has more than one CLP or CDL; (d) During any period in which the CMV he/she is driving is subject to an out-of-service order.
At Wolpert Insurance, we encourage you to stay organized and updated about every detail and FMCSA rule. This can help prevent accidents and mistakes along the way!

Rules Relating to Tips in the Livery Industry

Do you know the rules relating to tips in the livery service industry? As the owner of a fleet, you should know who can get them and who can’t, if sharing is okay or not, and about fee charge backs if the payment is made on a credit card.

Employers with tipped employees should take the time to review the Massachusetts Tip Pooling Law. This can ensure you are in compliance with the Massachusetts Tip Pooling Law and minimize your exposure to the lawsuits under this statute. Here are some of the most important rules we believe you should be aware of:

The Tip Pooling Law ensures that service employees receive all monies that customers intend to leave as a tip.
Employers with tipped employees cannot take a payment or deduction from a tip given to an employee by a patron.
Employers cannot maintain a tip pool in which any portion of the pooled tips are distributed to any person who is not a service employee.
Employers cannot charge a tip to a patron and then fail to give the tip to the employee who provided service in the first place.
If the employer operates a livery vehicle, he/she cannot accept a tip from a patron. As the owner of a service business in a position of management, he/she is not supposed to accept a service charge.
According to “The Act”, employees who receive at least $20 per month in gratuities may be paid $2.63 per hour, provided that their gratuities and hourly pay rate when added together are equal to or greater than the state minimum wage of $6.75.
Though employers are prohibited from retaining employees’ tips’, the employer may distribute tips that have been properly pooled. The Act eliminates any distinction between cash and credit card tips.
If an employer chooses to add a service charge to the bill, it must distribute the proceeds in “proportion to the services provided by those employees.”
Tips or service charges must be paid to the employee at the end of the day the tip was given.
As the owner of a livery company, the responsibility may fall on you to operate the vehicles from time to time. If a customer wants to give you a tip, you can accept it and then donate it to a charity cause. This way, you are not going against the law and also helping out the community. Since you are an owner, you must be aware of the rules of tipping and never keep a tip as an employer. If you want to avoid liability issues or lawsuits against your livery service, you should not only have livery insurance from us, but also implement a clear tip pooling policy in writing. In addition, you can train managers and employees to ensure compliance with the laws and policies. Even a minor violation of the law could cause serious financial damages to your business. Don’t let this happen. Follow the rules and stay protected!

Advertising Creatively for Your Livery Business!

With over 100 livery businesses in the Massachusetts area, many must be trying to advertise to their local communities. How can you do while also standing out from the crowd? Why not try using graphics and printed messages on your livery vehicles.

Using print display marketing on your fleet can be a very cost-effective way to advertise your business. No matter where you are traveling, whether the city or the suburbs, lots of people will see your vehicle. By having a marketing message right on the car, you can engage the community within seconds and have them remember your business’ name next time they need service. This sort of advertising must be creative and artistic, but remember not to make it cluttered. You only have so much space on your vehicles. Here are some tips for your graphics to stand out from the rest:

Make sure the text you use is clear and easy to read. The last thing you want to happen is a collision due to obnoxious text.
Use only the most important contact information within the graphic. This can include an email, telephone number, location, or even social media account titles.
Decide where you will put the advertisement on the vehicle. This can be either on the left or right side or the back of the livery car.
Don’t put too much information within the graphic or your message won’t come across correctly.
Avoid complicated designs. This can make it difficult to reprint and put onto other vehicles later on.
Don’t use dark colors on dark vehicles. Instead, use vibrant colors for contrast.
By formulating a strategy for a dynamic and well thought out graphic, you can attract the attention of lots of people. At Wolpert Insurance, we want you to keep in mind that safety always comes first. Don’t put a design on the vehicle that is overwhelming or that could cause a driving distraction. If you feel your business may require protection from unpredictable risks on the road, our livery insurance may be what you need. Contact us today for more information!

Are Your Limousines Safe?

When owning and operating a livery company, it is important to make sure your vehicles are protected with the best security possible. This is to not only keep your drivers safe, but your passengers as well. The community you serve relies on you to get them from one place to another in a timely, safe fashion. Don’t let them down by not installing the proper safety features or by failing to have limo insurance. This could result in financial devastation should an accident or injury occur.

Did you know that the Secret Service is looking for a new armored limo? The proposal calls for a newly designed armored limo built “in accordance with [classified] government-provided specifications.” Whoever the automaker is that takes on the project, they will develop a concept, design its armor, conduct armor system modeling and simulation, develop an engine, and eventually test the limo with live fire exercises. The manufacturer that can meet all the government’s requirements will be rewarded a fixed-price contract for the livery vehicle. The Department of Homeland Security intends to begin this contract by September 29, 2013.

Are your limos as secure as the President’s? Perhaps not, but there are ways you can keep your clients comfortable and secure so they feel just as important as the President. What should each of your vehicles include in order to keep operators and customers safe? Here are just some features that will help reduce the risk of mishaps going to and from a destination:

Certified Air Bags
Traction Control
Seat Belts for every Passenger and Driver
Blind-Sport Warning
Backup Camera
Alarm System
GPS System
Tire Pressure Monitors
Proper Registration
A DriveCam
At Wolpert Insurance, we believe that along with having these safety features, your livery service deserves to be protected with comprehensive and affordable coverage. Therefore, our specialists in the limo insurance sector can configure an exceptionally competitive program for those in New England. Let us provide you with a customized level of service, professional knowledge and expertise today!

Turn Your Livery Business Into A Family Affair!

At Wolpert Insurance, we love our limo customers and believe they deserve the best livery insurance protection around. Our team takes our clients’ insurance needs very seriously. However, we also take the needs and wants of our employees seriously, allowing our team to feel at home and like a family in the office. This has allowed us to continue evolving into a trusted coverage leader. Our commitment for clients statewide is unmatched because we understand our community. Do you wish for your livery company to have the same focus on supporting your employees in order to service your community in an efficient, respectful, and organized fashion? Then why not keep the business all in the family!

As you begin to increase in business, it can be helpful to hire more help. However, on boarding family members may present more benefits than your realize. Among other things, polite and personalized service can be emphasized in order to accomplish the goals set in place. Here are some other advantages of turning your livery service into a family affair:

Family members may be more committed to the business’ success than others because they all have a stake in seeing results.
Family businesses can have the potential to be more profitable than other types of businesses based on them having a closer connection with the local community.
Even if some of your employees are not family, you will treat them as such because the work environment will be so tight knit.
Make sure to establish clear methods of communication so problems can be avoided. You don’t want a customer to overhear you and a driver in an argument. This could ruin your reputation.
Be fair when dividing roles and responsibilities. Cater to the skills of your family members and other employees so everyone can work hard towards the goal of offering customers the best limo services possible.
When establishing a family run livery company, this can allow your community to trust your services. This is because they see you are committed to honesty, fairness, and personalization.
Keeping your family close can allow you to rise above the competition by offering your customers a unique aspect of service. Wolpert Insurance was founded on the belief of offering skilled expertise as a client-focused insurance agency. The agents here hope you make it your goal to always provide friendly, trustworthy, and considerate service on time and all the time. As long as you treat your customers the way they would like to be treated, this will help your livery service prosper!

How Well Do You Know Your Employees?

When you hire a new driver, you trust that they will not be dishonest, steal, or operate a livery vehicle recklessly. Although you may think you can read a person well, sometimes looks can be deceiving. What if the one driver you thought could do no wrong ends up violating a customer and the policies of your livery business? This very incident occurred for one local livery company.

According to the Barnstable-Hyannis Patch, a family returned on a private jet from Florida to Massachusetts. Two limo drivers loaded the luggage into the awaiting vehicles. One limo driver drove the father and his two dogs to an animal sitter in Centerville and the second limousine brought the children and wife directly home in Osterville.

After both limousines arrived separately to the residence, the suitcases and bags were unloaded and brought inside by the livery drivers. However, a few hours later, the family realized that several pieces of their luggage and valuables were missing. This included a bag containing $100,000 worth of jewelry. After reporting the theft to the police, officials were able to obtain a confession from one of the limo drivers who had stolen the missing luggage and jewelry.

Such a devastating occurrence is something you never want your livery company to experience. This is why hiring the right people for your business is so crucial. Your customers rely on your services and believe they are safe in the vehicles they are being transported in. Don’t let them down. Here are some tips to use so you can hire the most honest and ethical drivers out there:

Know as much as possible about the people you are hiring.
Take the time to check their references. Make a list of questions to ask former employers to see if they will be able to work at your place of business.
Don’t hire the first person you like. Interview a number of people before deciding on a new driver.
Conduct a pre-employment background check to provide some information about each potential employee. This check will look at the history of crime, violence, theft, and fraud.
Put safety measures in place in case an employee decides to be dishonest or commit theft.
Safeguard valuable assets, provide accurate financial reporting, and make sure everyone follows regulations.
Conduct regular audits of processes and activities for each employee.
Your livery business is heavily reliant on your drivers and customers. Placing a level of trust in your employees is important so your company can run smoothly. Another safety precaution you should take is to have livery insurance from Wolpert Insurance. This package can include general liability, property insurance, small business financial planning, and much more. Contact us today for a tailored solution specifically made for your livery business!

The Importance of Not Speeding While Transporting Passengers in Your Limo

Have you wondered what sort of effect speeding may have on your livery company? Speeding poses many dangerous hazards to not just your limos, but to other vehicles on the road, passengers in your limo, and pedestrians. Did you know speeding causes one-third of accidents each year in the U.S.? As the owner and operator of a local limo company in Massachusetts, you may want to immerse yourself in some speeding facts or else risk filing a claim on your livery insurance.

In 1995, Congress repealed the National Maximum Speed Law, allowing state governments to decide what their maximum speed limit is. Since that time, over thirty states have raised speed limits to 70mph or more. When experts weigh in, they contend that as speed limits increase, so do deaths. Some suggest that since motorists are likely to go five or ten miles over the limit anyway, increasing them doesn’t make much sense or benefit anyone.

But how does this tie into driving a limo? It’s simple. You and your drivers are performing a service, and that doesn’t only include getting customers from point A to point B. A large part of driving and being in charge of a limo is making sure you’re keeping passengers safe from harm. If you or one of your drivers is speeding, how are you watching out for passenger safety?

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) website, Massachusetts’ maximum speed limit for all vehicles either in rural or urban areas is 65mph. To be safe, we recommend telling drivers to stay within these limits. Besides, who wants to be in a speeding limo while they’re trying to relax in the cabin?

At Wolpert Insurance & Risk Management we hope that you take our advice seriously when it comes to educating your drivers on speeding. For more information on speeding and how it factors into Massachusetts law, give us a call today.

Livery Safety During Prom Season in the Wake of the California Limo Fire

The fatal limousine fire in California last month has had many limo companies, passengers, and others concerned, especially with prom season in full swing. Although the investigation is ongoing regarding how the fire started, it is possible that such an incident could happen to one of your own vehicles. This is why it is important always put safety first, and with the support of Wolpert Insurance, you can remain protected even during the most unpredictable of times with our livery insurance.

A statistic from the U.S Department of Transportation reveals that 21 people in three separate accidents in 2011 died from fatalities in limos. You don’t want your business to be part of this data. However, this fact and the recent accident makes it understandable why parents are worried about their children heading off to one of their biggest nights in high school in a limo.

As the owner of a livery, you should establish trust with your customers. Make sure they clearly understand that safety comes first and foremost. This is especially true when transporting minors. Your drivers should also be thoroughly trained to deal with emergency situations to avoid accidents, injuries, and issues similar to that in California.

You can also encourage parent participation by allowing them to ask questions of your services. Provide them with all the answers they need so they may have peace of mind come prom day. These inquiries should happen before booking vehicle.

Other passengers may also be concerned with the way a limo is constructed and how it is so different from a regular automobile. Its spacious and luxurious interior can make any prom memorable, but it should also be comfortable and safe. When a vehicle is stretched, this changes a lot of features. The handling capacity and dynamics are altered, which makes the risks heightened on the road. Being aware and prepared for the hazards your livery fleet could face is important in keeping everyone safe. With the support of our agents, you can learn to understand exactly what type of livery insurance coverage you need to mitigate your risks efficiently.

Finally, you can let your clients know that your limos that carry more than eight people are inspected annually by the state of Massachusetts. Establishing preventative maintenance as well as having fire extinguishers and sufficient warning devices will make for a secure ride. No matter what season it is, continue to develop your safety strategy to prevent anything from happening on the road.