You may have missed it if you blinked, but Ukrainians Damijan Vnuk and Zavarovalnica Triglav have had their 15 minutes of fame
not just to those in the insurance industry, but also with the Eurosceptic sections of the media, citing more interference by the EU.
Triglav was reversing a tractor into a barn when he knocked Vnuk off a ladder and the EU Court of Justice was asked to rule on whether at the time of the accident the tractor was being used as a means of transport (compulsory Third Party motor insurance is required) or as a working machine (it isn’t). The court ruled that compulsory insurance is required and should cover any use that is consistent with the normal function of that vehicle.
What has annoyed the eurosceptics is that an event in Ukraine is set to impact on UK motor insurance, where currently only vehicles used on the road or other public place require Third Party motor cover. However in reality, whilst possibly an inconvenience, a change should not be a particular issue to most businesses in the UK who own mechanical plant such as tractors, excavators and Fork Lifts.
Most companies using plant will already have Public Liability cover for the ‘tool of trade’ working risk whilst on their premises or contract sites and separate Third Party motor if the vehicle is licenced or used on the road/public place. It may be that if the law is changed, the tool of trade risk could switch to a motor policy (or possibly vice versa), but the concern will be that some insurers will take the opportunity to charge for a risk that is usually already covered. That said, not all businesses are aware of the need to have the Third Party motor cover, partly because many think it is only needed where vehicles are used on ‘proper’ roads and it doesn’t help that ‘public place’ is not really defined by the Road Traffic Act, so a change would overcome this problem.
Where a change in law could be more of an issue is with domestic items such as sit on mowers, quad bikes and mobility scooters. Unless they are licenced for use on the road, they do not need compulsory motor insurance and are frequently not properly covered by home insurance policies (the equipment itself may be covered, but not always the third party liability), although specialist cover is usually available.
A change in the law and extra insurance may be regarded as more red tape by some, but it is difficult to argue against compulsory insurance for any machine that you can drive, wherever it happens to be used.
Should it stop there? Why not also sort out ‘pavements risks’ at the same time. Most people do not have a problem with young kids cycling on the pavement, but too many teenagers (my son included) and adults now use pavements rather than the road as a matter of course. And what about pedestrians who walk head down texting rather than looking where they are going or a particular bug bear, those incapable of walking in a straight line or who walk across the general flow of pedestrian traffic. Perhaps ‘pavement skills’ need to be taught at schools or am I just getting old and grumpy?
If you do some work on the highway, put up scaffolding or put seats on a pavement outside a café, you need £10m Public Liability insurance; but cycle along at break neck speed, you don’t! Most cyclists probably have Public Liability cover as an extension of their home contents polices, but many will not.
Perhaps the EU are right (for once!)