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Updated Thursday, October 15, 2015
Shock statistics showing that at least nine people were killed in accidents involving mobility scooters in 2014 have been released by the government.
Surprisingly, you don’t need insurance to take a mobility scooter on the road. But this might be about to change. This blog explains all.
Do you have a sit-on lawnmower, or use a mobility scooter to help you get to and from the shops?
If so, then you might well be in line for a nasty shock.
Golf buggies, sit-on lawnmowers and mobility scooters can all be used without insurance under current UK laws.
Lawnmowers, for example, only need cover if they are driven in public places, while mobility scooters can be driven on roads without insurance.
But a decision by a Brussels court means that anyone wanting to use these so-called ‘niche’ vehicles may now need car insurance to do so – all because of a European Union (EU) Directive from 1972.
Sounds crazy doesn’t it? But it could still end up being the law.
What’s going on?
Under UK law, niche motorised vehicles such as mobility scooters and sit-on lawnmowers do not require the same level of insurance as cars and vans.
Now, though, it would seem that the EU wants all vehicles of this kind to have at least third-party car insurance, in keeping with an EU directive that dates from April 24, 1972.
The directive in question is about “insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles” and states that ‘vehicle’ means “any motor vehicle intended for travel on land and propelled by mechanical power, but not running on rails”.
Why is this happening now?
You might well be wondering why a directive that has been in place for 43 years is suddenly being dredged up and brought to bear on British gardeners and golfers.
The reason is a 2014 court case brought by Damijan Vnuk, a farm worker from Slovenia who injured himself falling off a ladder that was hit by a tractor.
Motor insurers refused to cover his claim because the incident took place on private property and involved a vehicle being used as an “agricultural machine”.
However, the European Court of Justice ruled in September that Vnuk’s accident should have been covered by compulsory vehicle insurance.
And that means that any moving vehicle used in the EU should now have motor insurance, regardless of whether it is being used on public and private land.
This is at odds with existing British laws that only require such vehicles to be insured only if they are on a “road or other public place”.
What this means for you if…
You have a mobility scooter
The government strongly advises mobility scooter drivers to take out insurance to cover accident or theft.
However, they do not have to be insured by law.
And while the last Government looked set to make insurance for mobility scooters a legal requirement, it is now unclear when this will happen.
Mobility scooter users without insurance are still legal for the moment as a result.
Taking out cover now could save you from a costly claim should you be involved in an accident, though. You can get third party insurance with breakdown cover for about £90 a year.
You have a sit-on lawnmower
Sit-on lawnmowers – and other similar vehicles such as quad bikes – already need insurance if they are to be driven on public roads.
Cover of this kind costs around £100 a year, and may soon become a legal requirement for all lawnmower owners.
Other options available in the meantime include public liability insurance for professional gardeners, and home contents personal liability cover for homeowners with motorised lawnmowers.
You have a golf buggy
At the moment, only golf buggies used on public roads need car insurance.
However, if the EU gets its way, those used solely on golf courses will also need to be covered with third party insurance.
The problem if that happens is that few insurers offer cover for buggies that are taken off the golf course.
While you can get insurance that includes personal liability insurance for about £25 a year, even specialist policies do not cover you for journeys on public roads.