The EU Fifth Motor Directive may cause expensive gridlock in the motor market, Elliot Lane says
So the bane of the motorist's life, the cyclist, could have the right to claim for every scratch and knock incurred when jumping a red light or leaping off a pavement. Having been personally on the end of both injury and claim as cyclist and driver, it is obvious that the EU Fifth Motor Directive is an accident waiting to happen.
Behind the handlebars, motorists are inconsiderate nutters who take pleasure in reckless driving. Behind the wheel, all cyclists are two-wheeled pariahs who disregard the Highway Code and get what they deserve. Never the twain shall meet.
Both are liable in most cases, but the RAC has a point. Compulsory insurance for all accidents must impact on premiums. The paperwork involved alone will choke the system and make things more dangerous - an extra £50 is a conservative estimate.
The European Commission's website offers handy tips to the most frequently asked questions on the motor directive. According to the EC, in some member states no insurance cover is offered and it's up to the courts to establish the driver's liability. In some other states, it says, the cyclist and pedestrian are covered in an accident "irrespective of whether the driver is at fault", but admits the civil liability imbedded in the different states' legislation does vary.
This is a reference to France, Belgium, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany. The Commission wants this system introduced in the next two to three years. Having monitored these countries, the EC concludes that there has "been no significant impact on the cost of insurance".
But all these countries, like the UK, are suffering crises of liability and capacity and this legislation will act as an extension to a motorist's third party liability. Extra insurance in other words - which costs money.
If every scrape with a cyclist results in a claim, what will be the impact on motorists' no claims discounts.
With the insurance industry about to be hit from the fall-out of the after-the-event legal disputes like Callery v Gray, which has cost millions of pounds already, this legislation could cause gridlock for the whole motor insurance market.