Senior MEP calls for law change to protect motorsport

21-Oct-2015 @ 10:30

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Amjad Bashir Amjad Bashir

Amjad Bashir Amjad Bashir


A senior MEP is calling for a ‘swift’ law change after fears emerged that an EU ruling could price motorsport enthusiasts out of their sport.

It is feared that changes to rules governing insurance will make it too expensive for many drivers to compete in amateur karting, rallying and drag racing.

East of England MEP Vicky Ford says this EU law was meant to make it easier for British holidays makers to drive on the continent and not regulate and hinder go-karting.

Mrs Ford, the Chair of the European Parliament's Internal Market Committee, added: “No insurance underwriter is prepared to offer the necessary cover as competitor-to-competitor collisions are very common.

“Motorcyclists tell me that the threat is so serious that it may force motorsport to continue illegally, potentially causing massive headaches for local authorities.

“I have written to the Commissioner asking if we could swiftly clarify the law explicitly exempting motorsport from these new regulations.” 

Note to editors:

The text of the letter to Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans:

Dear Vice-President Timmermans, 13th October 2015

It was a pleasure to see you the other weekend in the corridor. As mentioned, I wanted to bring to your attention a very good example of the unintended consequences of EU legislation.

I understand that since the Vnuk judgement by the ECJ (C-162/13), the Motor Insurance Directive must now be interpreted as meaning that third party insurance is compulsory for all land vehicles wherever they are being used in whatever circumstances.

On this basis, member states tell me they are now required to implement legislation that would make third party insurance compulsory for motor sports. The governing bodies of these events typically already provide public liability insurance in the event any spectators or bystanders are injured. There are also instances where governing bodies may voluntarily provide personal accident insurance to cover competitors if they are injured during a race. However this is the maximum extent of insurance provided.

If the implications of the ECJ ruling are to be implemented to its logical extreme, then governing bodies would be required to insure competitors themselves in the event they collide with one another. However no underwriter is willing to offer this sort of insurance. Competitor to competitor collisions are extremely common and adding insurance to these events would simply render any form of competitive racing impossible to undertake legally.

A law requiring third party insurance is not practical. The number of underwriters in the market is very small and the number willing to underwrite to that level of coverage is non-existent. Current claims history is distorted by the lack of coverage, but there are enough substantial claims in the current system to indicate that multi-million pound claims would happen several times a year making premiums unaffordable for all but the elite level of the sport. Captive insurance (i.e. insuring the activity yourself) is notionally possible, but the levels of reserves required are far beyond the means of smaller governing bodies and would certainly put an enormous strain on even the largest car ones.

If such a law was implemented, given the large number of motorsport vehicles currently “in the wild”, so to speak, and the lack of available insurance, I'm told that nearly all motorsport is likely to continue illegally, potentially causing massive headaches for rural local authorities and massive headaches for the government as the delegated “insurer of last resort”. Governing bodies would then cease to exist as licence holders (the membership and main source of revenue) would disappear and organising events would effectively become illegal unless competitors were insured. Given the low level nuisance illegal riding currently causes, this would clearly be a disaster.

I am told that this situation could be averted if we were able to swiftly pass targeted legislative amendments explicitly exempting motorsport from the requirement. Given the Commission's commitment to the Better Regulation agenda and confronting head on any serious unintended consequences of EU legislation, I would urge you and your services to prioritise this issue as quickly as possible.

Kind regards

Vicky Ford MEP

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