Car insurance: new EU rules to better protect victims of road accidents 

The EU is working to make our roads safer ©AP images/European Union-EP  

Find out how Parliament aims to ensure victims of road accidents in Europe are fairly compensated.

Although EU roads are the safest in the world, 25,300 people lost their lives in 2017 while 135,000 people were seriously injured. Most of the victims were vulnerable road users such as children, pedestrians, cyclists and older people.

On 13 February, MEPs voted in favour of  a proposal to improve the current motor insurance directive in order to better protect road accident victims.  The new rules will guarantee fair compensations for victims, discourage the use of uninsured cars and ensure equal treatment of policyholders from different EU countries.

MEPs are also working on better road safety rules to reduce the number of victims in road accidents.

Higher level of protection of victims

Currently victims of road accidents may not receive compensation or experience payment delays when the insurer of the responsible vehicle is insolvent . Under the new rules, responsibility for compensation in such cases would default to member states. MEPs also propose that compensation is granted within a maximum period of six months.

People across the EU would benefit from the same minimum level of protection. For personal injuries, victims will be entitled to an insurance coverage of at least €6,070,000 per accident, irrespective of the number of victims, or €1,220,000 per victim. For damage to property, the minimum amount of coverage will be €1,220,000 per claim, irrespective of the number of victims. Member states will be allowed to set higher amounts.

More affordable insurance premiums

The new rules will urge insurance companies to allow a claim history i to be transferable, allowing a consumer who moves to another EU country to continue to enjoy benefits, on the same basis as domestic policyholders. That should mean EU citizens have access to more advantageous premiums and potential discounts, irrespective of their nationality or previous member state of residence.

Clamping down on uninsured vehicles

Uninsured driving is a growing problem within the EU, which costs millions of euros and increases premiums for paying consumers. Parliament’s proposal would allow EU countries to conduct systematic cross-border insurance checks through unobtrusive technologies, such as number plate recognition, and to impose penalties.

Which vehicles will be included in the new directive?

The rules would cover most vehicles. E-bikes, segways and electric scooters would be excluded as they are smaller and cause less damage to people and property. In addition, the application of motor insurance rules might discourage their use. Motorsports are also omitted, as in general they are covered by other forms of liability.

Next steps

MEPs will have to negotiate the new rules with the Council before they can enter into force.

Once the new rules are implemented, the European Commission will have to evaluate their application with regard to self-driving cars.