The year 2020 will definitely make history. From many perspectives, this continues to be a difficult year and the passenger transportation industry, including luxury transportation, is no exception. Many luxury transportation companies have closed their doors and many more will in the coming months. Some rely on airport trips, others on schools and churches, but all are feeling some sort of impact from COVID-19. As these companies try to remain afloat, some are choosing to cut costs from anywhere they can. Some are cutting wifi out of their vehicles or GPS tracking, others are cutting back on labor by furloughing or laying off employees. Others still are cutting costs at the detriment of their customers by letting their insurance lapse or not properly maintaining their vehicles. The purpose of this article is to give you, the consumer, as many tools as possible to tell if the company you're considering renting a vehicle from is operating legally with proper insurance.
Because Affordable Limousine is a Michigan-based company, the state-level resources listed here will be for the state of Michigan. If you're using this article in another state, please try to find something comparable for your state.
What does a for-profit passenger transportation company need in order to operate legally?
1. State authority
In the state of Michigan, all authorized carriers (companies that have state authority to operate passenger transportation) are listed here: https://mdotnetpublic.state.mi.us/blris/Authorized/Carriers.aspx?cnty=false
The carriers are listed in alphabetical order. At the top, you can also sorty by county, if that helps. If you are on a computer, you can press "ctrl f" and search for the name of the company. If the company you're renting from or considering renting from is not listed at the above link, they are not a legal operator, their vehicles have not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Transportation for safety, and you should not do business with them.
PLEASE NOTE: It is important that the company be on that list, but it is also important that the specific vehicle you're renting be an authorized vehicle under the company you're renting from. Click on the company's name to see a list of all their vehicles. Make sure the vehicle you're renting is marked "Authorized" under the "Vehicle Status" column. If you're not sure which vehicle you're renting, call your company and ask them what the Fleet Number is on their MDOT roster.
Insurance is a little trickier to independently verify. You can always ask the company for a copy of their insurance. They should email it right over to you. If they hem and haw AT ALL, that's a bad sign. It may take them a few minutes, but it shouldn't be any sort of an issue.
Here's how to independently verify insurance for a well-established, interstate carrier. We'll use Affordable Limousine as an example:
A. Go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration "Safer" website: https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnapshot.aspx
B. Enter the company's USDOT Number or search by name. For Affordable Limousine, our USDOT Number is 1848503. Click Search. If the company was listed on the state site listed in section 1, their DOT number will be in their listing.