Will I need car insurance for my lawnmower and mobility scooter under an EU directive?

Insurance bodies remain unsure where this leaves them

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The Independent Online

A ruling by the European Court last year could require owners of ride-on lawnmowers and mobility scooters to take out extra insurance.

The 43-year-old EU law has been reinterpreted after a court case brought by a Slovenian man last year pushed the court to recognise that all motorised vehicles, irrespective of whether they were in use on private or public land, required motor insurance.

Presently, vehicles – such as sit-on lawnmowers – which are used solely on private property do not require car insurance within the UK.

Mobility scooters are exempt under current UK law, allowing elderly or frail individuals to drive on roads without insurance.

The EU ruling may change this, requiring thousands of owners to modify their policies.

A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers told The Independent that they were “work[ing] closely with officials at the Department for Transport” to “assess the implications of the judgment.”

Owners of sit-on lawnmowers could be the worst affected, with the Daily Telegraph claiming their cost could go up to £100 annually.

In the same bracket would be quad bikes, which when used on private land do not need insurance, but under the new ruling would fall into the same bracket as lawnmowers.

Mobility scooters, presently exempt from insurance – although users are strongly advised to take out some cover, would face an extra £87 per year as they would need “third party liability cover”.

Other vehicles affected include golf buggies, which golf courses would have to insure for approximately £23 a year.

However, the UK can exclude certain types of vehicle – such as mobility scooters or tractors – from the EU’s ruling under the scope of two Articles within the directive. Malta and Finland have already travelled down this path.

It remains unclear why the directive has suddenly resurfaced as the court case involving Damijan Vnuk was ruled on 4th September last year.

Under the ruling for Mr Vnuk, who was injured falling from a ladder hit by a tractor, the court decided that any moving vehicle, on public or private land, should have motor insurance as tractors (for example) were “consistent with the normal function” of a motor vehicle.

A Department for Transport spokesman told The Independent : "It is too soon to understand exactly how this ruling will apply in the UK. We are working with the European Commission and other member states to agree what it will mean in practice and these discussions are ongoing."