28th May 2015
Following a recent EU decision, vehicles such as ride-on lawnmowers, mobility scooters and golf buggies could soon require motor insurance, even when they are used on private property.
The decision in question arose from a European Court of Justice case involving Slovenian farm worker, Damijan Vnuk, who was knocked from a ladder by a tractor on private land.
The court’s decision drew reference from a 43 year old European Council Directive that requires 'any motor vehicle intended for travel on land and propelled by mechanical power, but not running on rails' to be insured against third party liabilities.
However, current UK legislation (namely the Road Traffic Act 1988) only requires 'vehicles intended or adapted for use on a road' to be insured on a 'road or other public place'.
As a result of the European decision, the UK will obliged to enact changes in local legislation in line with the EU Directive and failure to do so could leave it exposed to potential compensation claims.
The Department of Transport is currently working with the European Commission and other EU member states to agree exactly what this will mean in practice. Although the details are yet to be finalised, the likely implication is that third party motor insurance is made compulsory for a number of vehicle types that are currently exempt in the UK.
Another key implication is that the current requirement to insure vehicles on a 'road or other public place' is extended to include private property such as farms and golf courses.
At present, there is no legal requirement for the owners of mobility scooters to purchase insurance, however new legislation could make it mandatory to for owners to acquire a minimum level of third party liability cover.
Although it is already possible to purchase such insurance (typically priced between £80-90), it is highly probable that the cover offered will change following changes in the law. Premium rates might also fluctuate.
Ride-on lawnmowers, quad bikes and golf buggies are already required to have insurance if they are used on the road and public places, but not on private land. These are typically priced at around £100. Under the EU Directive however, this could extend the requirement to also insure on private land.
Whether upright lawnmowers are classified under new legislation is yet to be seen, however this is unlikely.
There is currently no requirement to insure golf buggies on private golf courses, however UK law requires them to have motor insurance in place if they are used on public roads.
Following the EU decision, new legislation could mean that insurance is required regardless of whether a golf buggy is driven on the road or not.
It is unclear yet how exactly the changes will be implemented and enforced in the UK, but from a logistical perspective this could be particularly complicated and confusing.
Currently, vehicles requiring compulsory insurance must be registered with the DVLA and insurance details are recorded on the Motor Insurance Database. Vehicles must either be insured or declared off-the-road by means of a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
Whether a similar approach is to be adopted with new classes of vehicles is yet to be seen, however you can stay tuned for updates by following us online:
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