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How a Slovenian farmer, a tractor and a ladder could lead to compulsory motor insurance for all self-propelled vehicles

EU proposals to change motor insurance legislation


Described by The Association of British Insurers (ABI) as both ‘unfair and unworkable’ 1, proposals from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) may mean that many contractors will have to pay for motor insurance to cover any type of vehicle or self-propelled plant they use on site.


The case of Slovenian farmer, Damijan Vnuk (C-162/13) has signaled a number of EU proposals to change motor insurance legislation.   

Vnuk claimed damages when he was knocked from a ladder by a reversing tractor in his barn. The ECJ found that Mr Vnuk should have been protected by compulsory motor insurance as a “vehicle means any motor vehicle intended for travel on land and propelled by mechanical power, but not running on rails, and any trailer, whether or not coupled.”2


As a consequence, there have been proposals to extend the scope of the EU Motor Insurance Directive so that legislation is not left to the interpretation of member states such as the UK.

The proposal wants to extend what is termed the ‘normal function’ of vehicles to their use on private land. This may override current UK law where only vehicles driven on public highways require motor insurance.  The UK Government has consulted on the proposals and is currently reviewing feedback.3


From a contractor’s perspective, if the proposals are successful a person working on site who uses a self-propelled vehicle would need to purchase motor insurance. This will be required in order to mitigate against any third party risks, previously covered by either employer or public liability insurance.


It’s not just plant on site, owners of ride-on lawn mowers, off road motor sport vehicles and even floor cleaning machines could be required to have third party motor insurance cover.


Ian Hollingworth, Head of Claims at ECIC said: “It is unreasonable to expect contractors to pay for motor insurance for vehicles that will never travel anywhere near a road.  We fully support the ABI in its strong opposition to these proposals.” 



ECIC media contacts

For further information please contact the ECIC Press Office at HSL:  Alison Reeson/Patrick Moorcroft.  0208 977 9132.  ECIC@harrisonsadler.com





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