Many of us know that, if we have an accident in the UK that to some extent was the fault of another driver, we may be able to make a claim against the insurer of that vehicle or driver. But what is the current process for making such a claim if we have an accident abroad, and will that change if we leave the EU as planned on 31 October?
Currently, if you have an accident in another EU or European Economic Area (EEA) country and wish to make claim, you can do so in the UK, under English law. If or when the UK leaves the EU on 31 October we will almost certainly be withdrawn from the ‘Fourth Directive’, which allows victims of road traffic collisions in EU or EEA countries other than their own country of residence to make compensation claims in their own country and in their own language. If we leave this system, UK victims of accidents abroad may have to approach the foreign insurer directly with any claim; in the event of an accident with an uninsured or hit-and-run driver, they may need to apply directly to the foreign equivalent of UK’s Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). This would make bringing such claims far more difficult and time-consuming than is currently the case. Each member country obviously has its own laws and, crucially, different time-limits for bringing claims may apply. Understanding those laws and any rules specific to compensation claims is likely to prove difficult.
In some EU and EEA countries the MIB equivalent only pays compensation to its own residents, EU residents or nationals of other EEA countries. To enable continued access to compensation for UK victims, the UK MIB is working to sign agreements with other EU and EEA countries but these will not replace the current system. The agreements require other countries to confirm they will continue to pay compensation to UK residents after the UK leaves the EU. Depending on which countries sign these agreements and the local rules in those countries, access to compensation could vary from country to country.
Anyone thinking of driving abroad after we have left the EU would be well-advised to ensure they understand the prevailing accident claims legislation and any cross-border agreements that are applicable at that time.
For more information and further advice on making claims for road traffic accident compensation please contact the George Ide team on 01243 78668 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Lewis. Partner and Head of Accident Management
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