Accidents in an EU state - will Brexit continue to protect British victims of uninsured drivers?

This article was published prior to the publication of the post-Brexit agreement between the UK and EU which covers the relationship between the UK and EU following the end of the implementation period (commonly referred to as the “transition period”) created by the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, and should be read in that context. For up-to-date commentary and information on our services, please see our Beyond Brexit page.

What can be worse than having a road an accident while travelling in another country? Probably finding out that the other driver was uninsured.

Whilst we remain part of the EU however, and if we have an accident caused by an uninsured driver in another EU state, we can currently bring a claim and request compensation from the UK based Motor Insurers Bureau ("MIB").

The MIB then seek reimbursement from their equivalent in the EU country where the accident occurred. This is established in law by what is called the European "Sixth Directive" 2009 which was adopted into UK law via Regulations in 2003.

Until recently, the Courts in the UK ruled that UK victims of road accidents in other EU countries could also claim the same amount of compensation as if they had the accident in the UK. This was often a source of annoyance for other EU MIB-type organisations who would not expect to pay a UK based level of compensation to their own "home grown" victims.

This state of affairs was reviewed earlier this year by the Supreme Court in a case known as Moreno v MIB. Click here to read our article.

The outcome of this decision is that, in future, victims claiming compensation in these types of cases may well recover less compensation than they would have done in the past, particularly where other EU legal systems place limits on certain areas of claim - e.g. claiming for private care or medical treatment.

This case is a blow to UK claimants but, of course, post Brexit, the future could be even worse. Lord Mance commented in the Moreno case "With British exit from the Union, this will, no doubt, be one of the many current arrangements requiring thought."

It is hoped that there will be appetite amongst EU members to continue to maintain a system of co-operation with the UK, to ensure some recompense remains for victims of road accidents who are injured by uninsured drivers. Time will tell.

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