Motor Insurance - Vnuk Judgement

During 2014 the ‘Vnuk’ case was subject to a ruling by the European Court which may lead to changes in road traffic act legislation governing the use of motor vehicles.

The ‘Vnuk incident’ involves the use of a tractor and trailer on agricultural land within the Slovak Republic which resulted in injury to a third party (Vnuk). As the use of the vehicle on private land was not subject to compulsory insurance indemnity was not provided by the Slovakian motor insurers.

The Advocate General of the European Court felt that there could be different interpretations of ‘use of motor vehicles’ across Europe and to achieve a consistency did not consider that compulsory cover should be confined to use ‘in traffic’ but should extend to include any accident involving a motor vehicle, wherever it occurs.

In the light of this judgement there are now fact finding discussions taking place between Department of Trade in the UK and their counterparts across Europe but there is no indication as yet that the judgement will force immediate change to the UK system. The implications of the judgement are also being considered by the insurance industry generally by the Association of British Insurers and they will consult widely with insurers when the UK Government position is made clear.

As the leading insurer of Public Service organisations we have always taken the view that, with the huge variety of motor vehicles operated by our customers, a consistent approach to insurance coverage should be provided whether motor vehicles are used on or off road, whether registered or unregistered or licensed or unlicensed for road use. Our advice has been therefore, for customers to declare all motor vehicles operated for cover under motor insurance.

You will be aware from your own vehicle declarations to us what vehicles you have included historically and if you are in any doubt whether vehicles should be declared to us or not please contact us in the usual way.

We expect that the review now being undertaken will bring more clarity on the application of motor insurance for a wider definition of vehicles and we will communicate again if we feel your cover with us is affected. Meanwhile we can confirm there is no change to current road traffic legislation.