The EU Motor Insurance Directive 2009/103/EC is a fundamental element to the free movement of vehicles in the European Union. The Directive establishes a single market in the field of motor insurance. The Directive obliges all motor vehicles in the EU to be covered by compulsory third party insurance and ensures the abolition of border checks on insurance so that vehicles can be driven as easily between Member States as within one country.
The EU Motor Insurance Directive 2009/103/EC codified all previous five EU Motor Insurance Directives, which consequently are no longer in force. The Directive was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 7 October 2009.
The Directive guarantees a better protection of third party victims of road traffic accidents, including those caused by unidentified or uninsured vehicles. The Directive also prescribes certain minimum amounts of compensation for both material and physical damage. It needs to be borne in mind that the issues of civil liability and the calculation of compensation awards are competences of the Member States. All passengers in the vehicle (including the family of the driver) are covered by compulsory insurance.
All compulsory motor insurance policies should cover, on the basis of a single premium and during the whole term of the contract, the entire territory of the Union, including for any period in which the vehicle remains in other Member States during the term of the contract. Please note, however, that the Directive does not regulate the so-called comprehensive cover (cover for one's own physical damage, material damage to one's own vehicle and vehicle theft, amongst others).
In addition, the EU Motor Insurance Directive provides for a mechanism to compensate the local victims of accidents caused by vehicles from another Member State. The Directive builds in this respect upon the private sector network of bureaux and the Green Card System set up by insurers which handle the victims' claims. The Directive also establishes an efficient mechanism for the quick settlement of claims where the accident takes place outside the victim’s Member State of residence (the so-called “visiting victims”).
Rights of policyholders
We strongly suggest citizens wishing to take out motor insurance to compare offers from different insurers, which enables them to find a better deal in terms of premiums and conditions. Insurers providing services in the Member States can usually be found at national supervisors' websites. Internet search engines may also be useful in this respect.
The policyholder has the right to request at any time a statement concerning the claims, or the absence of claims, involving the vehicle or vehicles covered by the insurance contract at least during the preceding five years of the contract. The insurer should provide this statement to the policyholder within 15 days of the request. This would enable policyholders to switch more easily from one insurer to the other. Motor insurance premiums differ from one Member State to the other due to differences in risk assessments and compensation schemes, amongst others.
Motor vehicles should be registered in the country of residence of the policy holder and/or vehicle owner. Motor vehicles may - provided that they are in a regular situation with respect to the national registration rules - be insured by an insurer established in the Member State of registration or by an insurer established in any other Member State. Insurers willing to provide cross-border insurance services must fulfil certain formalities following from the relevant EU insurance legislation. They also need to be willing to offer a contract (according to the fundamental EU principle of commercial freedom, neither an insurer nor a consumer can be forced to enter into a business relationship).
Competences of the European Commission
The Commission cannot interfere in disputes between policyholders and victims of road traffic accidents and insurers or their representatives. Resolution of disputes should be sought at the national level. National supervisory authorities, consumer protection authorities and ombudsmen may be useful in this respect.
2009 – Public Consultation on compensation of victims of cross-border accidents in the EU
The “Internal Market and Services” Directorate General of the European Commission launched a public consultation on compensation of victims of cross-border accidents in the EU on 29 March 2009.
The purpose of the consultation was to obtain the views of all interested parties on the effects of application of foreign law to claims arising from cross-border road traffic accidents. The consultation provided stakeholders with the opportunity to comment on the main findings of the ROME II study on compensation of cross-border victims in the EU and to make known their views on the desirability and feasibility of Community action in this area.
The consultation paper was based on the “ROME II study on compensation of cross-border victims in the EU” and offered a series of policy options for consideration and comments. An on-line electronic tool was used to collect the responses and comments. The consultation ended on 30 June 2009.
2006 – Public Consultation on Motor Insurance: claims representatives and legal expenses insurance
In order to be able to prepare a report on two motor insurance issues, the European Commission consulted you on the effectiveness of the claims representatives mechanism foreseen by Article 214 of the Directive and on legal expenses insurance.
One of the aims of the EU Motor Insurance Directive is to enable visiting victims (parties who have been injured or suffered property damage outside their Member State of residence) to get faster compensation in their Member State of residence. Pursuant to Article 421 of this Directive, each Member State has to ensure that all motor insurance undertakings appoint a claims representative in each Member State other than that in which they have been authorised to do business. The claims representative is responsible for handling and settling claims arising from an accident occurring to visiting victims.
A legal expenses insurance undertakes against the payment of a premium to bear the costs of legal proceedings faced by the insured person as well as to provide to him or her other related services.
2005 – Consultation on motor insurance issues
The European Commission prepared a report on two motor insurance issues by the end of 2005. This report addressed the effectiveness of the compensation bodies foreseen by Article 24 of the Directive 2009/103/EC and some insurance aspects related to trailers.
The consultation closed on 15 July 2005.