Motor Insurance Directive - Implications of the ECJ VNUK case

Motor Insurance Directive - Implications of the ECJ VNUK case

VNUK case (C-162/13)

Mr Vnuk, a farmworker, was knocked off a ladder in a farmyard by a trailer attached to a tractor which was reversing across the yard. He sought damages against the defendant insurer of the tractor. The Slovenian courts ruled against Mr Vnuk, saying that "compulsory insurance policy under Slovenian law for a motor vehicle covered use of the tractor as a means of transport but not damage caused when a tractor was used as a machine or propulsion device".

The Court of Justice of the EU had to determine whether the circumstances of the accident fell within the duty to insure 'the use of vehicles' within the meaning of Article 3(1) of the 6th Motor Insurance Directive. In September 2014, the CJEU determined that the duty to insure did extend to the accident circumstances in this case. It found that the wording 'use of vehicles' in Article 3(1) covers any use of a vehicle that is consistent with 'the normal function' of that vehicle.

The VNUK case reinterprets the 6th Motor Insurance Directive (2009/103/EC) and may require that EU Member States make motor insurance compulsory for all vehicles in all use cases and covering all risks, damage and losses to a third party in the event of a collision. This would mean that cars driven only on private property may need to be insured in future and all motor insurance policies may need to be amended.

This contrasts with the legislation of many EU Member States that mandates insurance for a motor vehicle insofar as it is used on a road or in a public place. BIPAR's main concern is that the VNUK ruling could extend to situations which are unintended (for example, motorsport or certain vehicles used only on private land) across the EU. In May 2016, BIPAR asked the European Commission to consider an amendment to the Motor Insurance Directive which would address the issue before governments across the EU are forced to implement this problematic ruling.

Looking for an insurance intermediary near your home or business?Find one