BREXIT & THE MOTOR INSURANCE CONUNDRUM

 

The prospect of a no deal Brexit is becoming very real indeed. In the Northern Ireland jurisdiction, the consequences are beginning to emerge, particularly as regards motor insurance.
Northern Ireland will be the only UK legal jurisdiction to share a land border with the EU after Brexit. There is already a large volume of traffic from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland and vice versa. In addition, many foreign registered cars and lorries access the rest of the UK by travelling from the Republic, crossing Northern Ireland and utilising ferry ports in Larne and Belfast.
Regardless of the nature of the land border after Brexit this is unlikely to change. As such the ability of Northern Ireland drivers and companies to recover losses arising from road traffic accidents with EU registered vehicles post Brexit needs to be considered.
Cross border motor insurance has long been governed by various EU laws that will no longer be applicable for UK registered vehicles and their drivers after a no deal Brexit.
MTB Solicitors are members of MASS (The Motor Accident Solicitors Society). We are extremely grateful to them for the work that they have carried out to raise awareness of these issues.

In short Northern Ireland Lawyers and others should be aware of the following: –

1. The Green Card scheme
After Brexit UK drivers will need to carry a “Green Card” as evidence of their motor insurance when travelling in the EU. Whilst NI drivers will be insured without one failure to produce it when asked could lead to your vehicle being impounded.
A Green Card can be obtained on request from the relevant motor insurer but, given demand, may take several weeks to arrive. We would advise anybody who travels by car to the EU to obtain a Green Card now.

2. The 4th Directive
Under this Directive UK citizens who were involved in Road Traffic Accidents abroad were able to pursue compensation in UK Courts and were also able to claim when the negligent driver of a foreign vehicle was uninsured in the UK.
This was very convenient. Under a no deal Brexit this will cease to apply.

3. Uninsured Driver Claims
Further to the above some EU countries have guarantee funds that may well operate to compensate UK victims of uninsured drivers, but many do not. France does not. After a no deal Brexit if you are involved in an accident in France with an uninsured driver there will not be a compensation fund.

4. The Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB)
Apart from its role dealing with uninsured and untraced drivers the MIB also steps in where the insurance company of an insured EU driver fails to deal with a claim in the UK.
After a no deal Brexit this will cease. Whilst the MIB will still help to identify the foreign insurers they will not pay if that insurer does not engage.

5. Current Claims against Foreign Uninsured Drivers
The MIB, if there is a no deal Brexit, have said that they will only settle these claims if proceedings are issued prior to the 29th March 2019. Any solicitors with claims such as these need to understand that time is now of the essence.

Conclusion
As the above demonstrates many of the routes to compensation for UK drivers against other EU drivers whether in the UK or abroad will be closed after a no deal Brexit.
Even where foreign vehicles are insured the process will be much more difficult and complicated. At MTB Solicitors we are well placed to deal with these challenges as our sister firm in Dublin (FV Harty & Co) will help us maintain an effective presence in the EU regardless of the ultimate nature of Brexit.
We would encourage anybody likely to affected by the above changes to seek the appropriate advice.