Compulsory insurance for off-road mobility scooters is unworkable, says trade body

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The European Court’s ruling that mobility scooters being used on private-land need insurance is “unnecessary, unworkable and unfair”, the trade body for the British insurance industry has said.

The ruling could make it compulsory for owners of mobility scooters to take out third party insurance if using their vehicles off-road.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is urging the European Commission to take “urgent action”. It has said that if the Commission fails to act then the UK Government will need to change domestic law and extend the scope of compulsory motor insurance while the UK remains in the EU. The body warned that this would lead to “significant disruption and additional costs”.

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In 2014 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that compensation for injuries suffered by a Slovenian farm worker, Damijan Vnuk, by a tractor while on private land should have been covered by compulsory motor insurance. In the UK motor insurance is compulsory for vehicles used on public roads, but not on private land.

The ABI, together with the British Insurance Brokers Association, Motor Insurers’ Bureau, International Underwriting Association, Lloyds Market Association and Lloyd’s, is urging the EU Commission to resolve this by implementing its proposal to clarify that compulsory motor insurance only applies to vehicles when in traffic and not those used on private land.

The ABI said the ruling is unnecessary because if the accident happened in the UK, it would have been covered through employers’ liability insurance or public liability insurance.

It believes it to be unworkable because it says the implementation would involve a costly taxpayer-funded enforcement and compliance regime. It also feels it would be “virtually impossible to enforce”, as such vehicles are not on any public database and do not need to be licensed.

“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,” commented Ben Howarth, senior policy adviser at the ABI.

“There is no evidence that this extension is needed in the UK. And it could prove the next lucrative hunting ground for claims management companies, encouraging claims that end up being paid for by all motorists through higher premiums.

“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.”

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