Owners of motorised lawnmowers, golf buggies and farming machinery including quad bikes could end up being forced to take out third party insurance cover – even if the vehicles are used off-road on private land, UK insurance bodies are warning.
It follows a ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2014 that compensation for injuries suffered by a Slovenian farm worker by a tractor on private land should have been covered by a motor insurance policy.
Insurance bodies headed by the Association of British Insurers are calling for clarification from EU officials that compulsory motor insurance only applies to vehicles when in traffic and not those used on farms and private land – including vehicles used only on race tracks and mobility scooters.
Insure your mower: Any lawnmower with a motor could have to be covered by a motor insurance policy due to a European Court of Justice ruling in 2014, the ABI has warned
Currently, motor insurance is only compulsory for vehicles used on public roads.
However, the ABI is warning that the precedent set in the European Court of Justice ruling could make cover a requirement for cars, bikes and other vehicles used on
This would be inclusive of any lawnmower with a motor, farming vehicles, golf buggies used on courses, track cars and motorcycles and mobility scooters.
If the commission failed to offer clarity, the insurance body said the UK Government would have no other choice but change domestic law and extend the scope of compulsory motor insurance – leading to significant disruption and additional costs that could be deemed unnecessary once Britain’s separation from the EU is complete.
Ben Howarth, senior policy adviser, motor and liability at the ABI, said: ‘We recognise that victims of accidents on private land should be entitled to compensation, but making insurance compulsory for off-road vehicle users is unnecessary, unworkable and unfair.
‘There is no evidence that this extension is needed in the UK.’
Insurance bodies warned that mobility scooters could be inclusive of the requirement for motor insurance cover
Currently, farming machinery used off-road on private land only does not require a motor insurance policy
Mr Howarth also warned that motor insurance requirements for off-road vehicles could be the ‘next lucrative hunting ground for claims management companies’, saying it could fuel a spike in false claims being paid out that would see premiums for all motorists increase.
He added: ‘The European Commission can easily resolve this, by implementing its own proposal to simply specify that the motor insurance directive only applies to vehicles in traffic.
‘It needs to end the uncertainty by doing this now.’
Golf courses could have to cover their fleet of buggies if EU officials don’t confirm that insurance is only required for vehicles used in traffic
Any lawmower with a motor, be it a push-along or ride-on, would be implicated by the ruling
An official response from the European Commission said: ‘The Commission has launched work to collect views on how the rules governing this area function. A public consultation is currently gathering feedback on the scope of the rules and specifically whether protection provided under the Motor Insurance Directive should include liability for accidents both on public roads and private property. The consultation is open until 20 October 2017.
‘We welcome the feedback of all stakeholders, but while the consultation is ongoing we can’t comment on individual stakeholders’ views or on our future course of action.’
The group of UK bodies, which also includes the International Underwriting Association of London, Lloyd’s Market Association and the Forum of Insurance Lawyers, say they are also urging the commission to resolve the situation.
They argue that had the accident happened in the UK, it would have been covered through employers’ liability insurance or public liability insurance.
They also say that as details of vehicles such as lawnmowers are not held on a public database, such insurance changes would be ‘virtually impossible’ to enforce – and it would also be difficult for the police and insurers to access private land to ensure compliance and to assess any accident.
It would also be difficult for insurers to calculate how much owners should pay for their premiums without reliable past data, they argue.
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