Bombshell announcement to be fought tooth and nail by cycle industry
Carlton ReidJun 6, 2018
Late last month the European Commission dropped a bombshell – effective immediately, e-bike owners would need motor-vehicle insurance to be street legal. That was a strict, legalistic reading of the Commission’s decision that all forms of motorised vehicles now “fall within the scope of the [EU Motor Vehicle Insurance] Directive as interpreted by the Court of Justice in its case-law.”
Vnuk is an unfortunate Slovenian farm worker who was knocked from a ladder by a reversing tractor in 2007. Triglav was driving an uninsured tractor. The case was originally heard in Slovenia, but then taken up in the Court of Justice of the European Union. In September 2014 the ECJ ruled that the requirement in the EU Motor Insurance Directive, devised in 1972, was for vehicles to be insured for any use consistent with the normal function of that vehicle. This means the incident in Slovenia should have been covered by compulsory motor vehicle insurance.
The European court decided that the regulation “applies to the use of vehicles, whether as a means of transport or as machines, in any area, both public and private, in which risks inherent in the use of vehicles may arise, whether those vehicles are moving or not.”
Further, the ECJ stated that: “Insurance obligation in respect of motor vehicles set out in the EU Motor Insurance Directives is now to be interpreted as extending to ‘any use of a vehicle consistent with the normal function of that vehicle’.”
The court ruled that off-road vehicles, such as tractors and racing cars, have to be insured even if they never drive on a public highway. This was then extended to any motor vehicles that could potentially travel on the public highway, including Segways, hover boards, ride-on lawn-mowers and, yes, e-bikes.