The Office of General Counsel issued the following informal opinion on August 22, 2001, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
RE: Limits of Liability Policies for Vehicles For-Hire.
1. Pursuant to the New York Insurance Law and the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, may an insurer provide liability insurance coverage for vehicles for-hire that is less than the minimum limits required by the regulations promulgated by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission ("TLC")?
2. Do the minimum limits of liability insurance coverage prescribed by the TLC regulations only apply to policies underwritten in or for New York City or do they apply statewide?
1. Yes. An insurer may provide liability insurance coverage that is less than the minimum limits required by the TLC. However, to be licensed by the TLC, applicants must demonstrate that they have procured liability insurance coverage that meets the requirements of the regulations promulgated by the TLC.
2. The TLCs jurisdiction, powers and duties cover the regulation and supervision of the business of transportation of persons by licensed vehicles for-hire in New York City.
No specific facts were provided relative to the above questions.
N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law, Article 6 and 8 (McKinney 2000) and N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 11, § 60-1.1 (a)(2001) (Regulation 35-A) prescribe the minimum limits of liability insurance coverage in New York State. However, the TLC has established limits that exceed those of the New York Insurance Law and the Vehicle and Traffic Law.
The TLC requires all owners to maintain liability insurance coverage in the amount of not less than $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence. See 35 RCNY § 1-40 (d)(2001) (medallion owners) and 35 RCNY § 6-11 (d)(2001) (for-hire vehicles). Moreover, pursuant to 35 RCNY § 1-02 (c)(3)(2001) and 35 RCNY § 6-11 (d)(2001), in order to be licensed, applicants must procure liability insurance coverage that meet the above requirements.
Accordingly, an insurer may provide coverage that complies with the New York Insurance Law and the Vehicle and Traffic Law, but is less than the minimum limits required by the TLC. However, to be licensed by the TLC, an insured would have to obtain excess insurance to satisfy the minimum limits of the TLC regulations.
With respect to the inquirers second question, the TLC is responsible for licensing and regulating New York Citys taxicabs, limousines, neighborhood car services, vans and wheelchair accessible ambulettes. See New York City Charter §§ 2300 and 2303 (2000). Therefore, the regulations promulgated by the TLC only apply to those under its jurisdiction in New York City.
For further information, you may contact Attorney Pascale Joasil at the New York City office.