Slovenian Farmers & Your Insurance
Just over 10 years ago, a Slovenian farmworker by the name of Damijan Vnuk was injured when he was knocked off a ladder by a trailer attached to a tractor reversing across the yard. Mr Vnuk sought damages against Zavarovalnica Triglav, the tractor’s insurer and was initially refused on the grounds that the tractor’s policy only covered it when it was being used as a vehicle, and not when it was being used as a propulsion device (i.e. a tractor). Following a lengthy appeals process, however, it seems that Mr Vnuk’s case will have far reaching ramifications on motor insurance.
As a consequence of Mr Vnuk’s case, the EU Court of Justice has determined that every vehicle must be insured for the “normal function of that vehicle”. In the context of this case it’s clear that reversing a tractor into a hay barn certainly requires cover. However, it raises questions about a huge range of vehicles, from lawnmowers to quad bikes to golf buggies.
Though the directive has already been enshrined into EU law, the complications arising from conflicts with existing UK law mean that the exact details are still being worked out. That said, the two most likely options have already been outlined:
- Full implementation as interpreted in the Vnuk judgment. This would entail third party insurance becoming mandatory for any non-roadgoing vehicles and vehicles used solely on private land. This could mean that your lawnmower would need an insurance policy. Government impact assessments believe that “mobility scooters, motorsports vehicles, electrically assisted pedal cycles, segways, agricultural vehicles, industrial vehicles, forklift trucks, ride-on lawnmowers, and fairground vehicles (e.g. dodgems)” would all require cover.
- A more nuanced implementation. This would likely require third party insurance on a greater range of vehicles than it is now without extending quite as far as full implementation. It could also mean that only vehicles used on land that the public has access to would need insurance.
This move has been widely condemned by British insurers, with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) describing it as “unnecessary, unworkable and unfair”.
What this means for farming, estates & hospitality
Clearly, the strict application of this law is likely to force the farming, construction, estates and hospitality sectors amongst others, to incur additional insurance cost to meet their legal obligations.
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