The High Court of England and Wales has issued a ruling about mandating car insurance that, if taken literally — and that’s kind of what laws are, right? — could threaten motorsports in Europe.
In other words, get insured or get off the road … and the racetrack.
According to a report on the classic car website Hemmings Daily, The High Court, in its ruling stated that any use of a motor vehicle, whether on or off public roads, requires motor vehicle insurance — a ruling consistent with the European Court of Justice’s September 2014 verdict in the case of Vnuk v. Triglav, which found that the EU’s 2009 Motor Insurance Directive did not clearly distinguish between on-road and off-road use.
So, per the ruling, any motor vehicle used for transportation on the roads or racing on a circuit must be insured.
The U.K.-based Motorsport Industry Association earlier this year argued that the Vnuk ruling poses a significant threat to all European motorsports not only because on-track crashes will be subject to the same police investigations as on-road crashes, but also because insurance for race cars either doesn’t exist throughout the European Union or exists at rates of up to 20 times that of road-car insurance coverage.
One interpretation of the ruling would mean that an on-track crash during a race at, say, Silverstone, would be subject to a possible police investigation, just like any other crash on the local interstate. (We don’t expect the police to stop a race and throw yellow tape all over a crash scene during a race, but it might be fun to watch).
The U.K., while in the process of breaking away from the European Union, is still under the laws of the European Union. Those laws, according to the Hemmings report, include the Motor Insurance Directive.
In October, the FIA (governing body for much of European racing, including Formula 1, the World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship, among others) said in a statement, “This is of course a matter that we have been following closely since the ECJ (European Court of Justice) ruling on Vnuk. The public consultation being conducted by the European Commission covers a wider scope than only motorsport.
“The questions being asked in connection with the scope of the Motor Insurance Directive could indeed have a potential impact on motorsport and the FIA. The FIA shall of course seek to preserve motorsport from any negative consequences of proposed amendments to the motor insurance directive.”
However, the High Court did concede that the motorsports angle to the ruling was an unexpected consequence, and it recommended that the European Commission should add language to the Motor Insurance Directive stipulating that its scope applies only to on-road (non-racing) vehicle usage.