The differences between a taxi service and a livery service may at first appear more semantic than pragmatic, albeit the difference can also mean a great deal in how your vehicles are insured and the cost of insurance for any given service.
From a regulation point of view, the permits and licenses can vary, along with the costs of each also, so knowing and understanding the difference between your vehicle or vehicles being classified as a taxi and livery vehicles. Keep in mind that because taxis and liveries are regulated at the city or municipal level, what's correct in one place doesn't necessarily mean it's equally applicable in another location. You'll want to communicate with the regulating bodies to confirm, and with that being said, let's take this for a drive….
Hailing, the all familiar act of catching the attention of a taxi driver (usually raising one's arm and waving) is typical of a taxi. That alone is one of the key characteristics of a taxi, the fact that you don't have to have an advance booking and can simply catch a ride to where you're going at any given time. Also, taxis tend to be smaller, usually only carrying up to six or seven passengers on any given fare, albeit I'm aware of some cities allow up to nine passengers. Taxis also don't typically charge by the passenger, so as to allow people sharing the same taxi to split the cost.
Taxis tend to have meters that measure the amount of distance and/or time while traveling to the destination, and using the information to calculate a fare for the transportation.
And of course, taxis tend to have yellow paint, albeit that long-standing trend does appear to be waning as the industry changes, especially in the face of Uber disrupting the status quo.
On the other hand, a livery service tends to be one where the transportation is scheduled ahead of time, or is on a scheduled route. For example, long black limos tend to be scheduled and transport a known passenger, and don't seek passengers off the street. Also, shuttle services for hotels and airports are a livery service even though the passengers aren't each scheduled, the route and times are (normally) scheduled.
As mentioned, Uber, Lyft, and other "ride-sharing" social companies are not only blurring the lines between livery, albeit in some significant ways, are creating an almost new class, one that's a hybrid between the two.
As you may have noticed, the real difference is more a result of regulation than the industry attempting to define the differences. Because many cities and towns want to tax and collect revenue from passenger transportation, the legal definitions appear to have more to do with how much revenue the city can collect than any other reasonable motivations.
Because the difference between livery and taxi services is more regulatory, from an insurance perspective, there isn't much difference "all else being equal" which isn't often the case because regulations create the differences (ie higher passenger counts for livery, as well as a typical larger radius of operation).
Also, the focus of the service can be different. For example, a party bus is a form of livery usually, albeit the passengers are buying the service of partying as much or more than true transportation. The net effect is the cost to insure a party bus is higher due to the fact the passengers don't tend to be as "sober" overall compared to taxi riders.
We offer commercial auto insurance for livery, taxis, and of course party bus insurance.
Robert Weinstein is a husband, dad, stock market junkie, real estate broker, and of course…Insurance agent. Interests include my family, economics, marketing, technology, real estate, finance/investing, history, and Asia.
Robert’s insurance expertise includes having the designation of Certified in Long-Term Care (CLTC) and assist in asset protection for families with members entering retirement.
Robert is also an accomplished syndicated writer whose work can be found in TheStreet, MainStreet, CNBC, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, MSN Money, The Money Show, Stock Saints, Motley Fool, Fidelity, Minyanville, RealMoney Pro, and many national and international newspapers.