According to legal experts and insurance providers, an EU judgment may require mobility scooters, ride on lawn mowers and motorised golfing caddies to have the equivalent of car insurance. The old European directive has been in place for 43 years, but in a recent court case, it was interpreted to cover all motorised vehicles. The Association of British Insurers is currently in talks with the Department for Transport to try to clarify exactly which types of vehicles will need to have insurance, and at what level the insurance will be required to cover.
UK Law for Niche Motorised Vehicles
At the moment, UK law states that people only need insurance for vehicles like this if they are to be used on a road or in a public place, with the exception of mobility scooters. The confusion has surfaced due to the ruling by judges which follow a 1972 directive that mobility scooters and ride on lawnmowers should have at the very least, third party car insurance. However, UK law does not require ‘niche’ motorised vehicles to have the same level of insurance as a car or motorbike.
The case in question involved a farm worker from Slovenia who had fallen from a ladder when it was hit by a tractor. The farm worker brought a case to the European courts, who decided that any moving vehicle, on public or private land, should have motor insurance, regardless of whether they are driven on the road or not. The judge ruled that because tractors are “consistent with the normal function” of a motor vehicle, insurance rules that relate to cars and motorbikes should also apply.
Uncertainty in the Insurance Market
It seems to have created a huge amount of uncertainty within the insurance market, as the outcome really depends on how the directive is interpreted. Confusion amongst the general public has caused a surge of enquiries to insurance companies asking whether or not they need car insurance for their ride on lawn mowers, motorised golf caddies and mobility scooters.
Although no firm conclusions have been decided on the matter, people have been quick to speak out on the directive, with a Tory spokesman saying: “This is clearly a bonkers ruling from the EU, only with David Cameron as Prime Minister will British people get a referendum on our membership of the EU.” The Association of British Insurers have made it clear that many current motor policies will now include cover for drivers on private land, but add that that will not cover machines such as quad bikes, tractors and lawnmowers. However, in those cases, there may be cover under household insurance or liability policies.
Ongoing Discussions over How the Ruling Will Apply in the UK
A spokesperson from the Department for Transport said: ‘It is too soon to understand exactly how this ruling will apply in the UK. We are working with the European Commission and other member states to agree what it will mean in practice and these discussions are ongoing’.
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