You can now claim for accidents involving mobility scooters and golf buggies on private land, and it will push up all our premiums unless government passes a new law
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Car insurance premiums will rise by £50 per driver unless the government fulfils its promise to overwrite a law so mad it is being ditched in all European countries except Britain.
The premium increases will pay for a whole new category of insurance claims being made against people driving vehicles like mobility scooters, ride-on lawn mowers and golf buggies on private land.
Normally these would not need to buy motor insurance , which is only required if vehicles are designed to go on the road.
But that all changed after a Slovenian farm worker called Damijan Vnuk was knocked off a ladder by a tractor on private land and injured in August 2007.
He was unable to claim damages from the tractor’s insurer, and the case rumbled through the Slovenian courts before ending up in the European Court of Justice in 2014.
That established a Europe-wide rule that motor insurance was needed for any vehicle, anywhere – not just on roads.
Each country in the European Union (EU) technically then had to write that into their own laws. Due to Brexit Britain never did, meaning if you own something like a mobility scooter you don’t actually need to insure it.
But here’s where it gets complicated, because if you get injured by any vehicle on private land in Britain you can still bring an insurance claim. That’s bad news for all of our car insurance premiums.
That’s because in June 2019 another court case, Lewis vs Tindale, said the UK state had to pay these claims even after Brexit.
The part of the state that pays these claims is the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) , which is funded by insurers and pays claims where the insurer can’t be tracked down.
But the ultimate cost is picked up by motorists through their premiums.
The government’s own figures say the cost of paying these Vnuk claims will be more than £2billion a year, or £50 a year per driver. The MIB is already paying out for these claims as the word gets out.
British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) executive director Graeme Trudgill told The Mirror: “We welcomed the government announcement back in February, but there is still no progress, and UK motorists are paying for this when they shouldn’t be.
“We urge the UK government to prioritise a change in motor insurance law.”
The situation is so bonkers that in June 2021 the EU said it would ditch the whole thing.
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The European Parliament referred to it as “absurd overregulation”.
But because Britain has now left the EU , if we want to get rid of the rule too then we have to pass our own law, as new European rulings won’t apply to us.
However, government isn’t doing it.
On February 21 transport secretary Grant Shapps said the Vnuk rule would be overturned or it “would only do one thing – hit the pockets of hard-working people up and down the country with an unnecessary hike in their car insurance”.
But no law has been brought, despite the March Budget and the Queen’s Speech in May, where new legislation is normally brought up.
This is despite prime minister Boris Johnson describing the Vnuk rule as “insane” as far back as 2017.
An MIB statement said: “Given these views, expressed so strongly by the now prime minister, the DfT’s failure to remove Vnuk from UK law is surprising to say the least.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport told The Mirror this week: “We are committed to bringing forward the necessary legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows.”
On June 29 the MP Grant Shapps brought a private members bill called ‘Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance)’ which aims to get the law changed.
But this is highly likely to fail, as fewer than 5% of private members bills ever become law.