Keoghs Insight


Jennifer Bond

European motor claims

Personal Injury aware

In the first of a series of snapshots looking at claims with a foreign element involved, Jennifer Bond outlines the process for motor claims in Europe, and what potential impact Brexit is going to have.

How European claims are dealt with

Instructions are received from our client, the UK based insurer, who in turn is acting as a UK Claims Handling Agent on behalf of the foreign principal.

The process then follows one of two routes:

  • Accident in the UK - If an accident has occurred in the UK then the claim is handled the same way it would if it concerned a UK-based insurer. We would provice advice to the foreign principal in respect of UK Law and what the best course of action would be.
  • Accident overseas – If an accident has occurred in another of the EU member states the claimant has a right under the 4th EU Motor Insurance Directive to bring a claim directly against the foreign insurer.  Proceedings can be issued in the UK Courts and UK Law will govern procedure.  All substantive issues will be dealt with under the law of the member state in which the accident occurred, even if that member state is different to the foreign principal.

Assessment under foreign law

Each of the member states has its own procedure when assessing liability and quantum. The claimant would have to obtain a report from a qualified lawyer in the relevant member state to provide guidance as to the assessment of the issues in dispute in order to assist the Court.

That report would then be provided to the foreign principal for them to consider and respond to. In the event that no agreement can be reached we would seek to obtain our own report with a view to the lawyers providing a joint report.

Many EU member states have their own version of the JC Guidelines or “Tables” that are used to calculate the assessment of damages. Many of those tools are accessible online and therefore we
are able to provide an advice to the  foreign principal and provide a more accurate reserve.

Is Brexit going to have an impact?

At present the position is still unclear, however it has been accepted that the rules under the 4th Directive will remain, therefore claimants will still be able to bring claims against foreign insurers. Nonetheless, there is still some uncertainty as to whether or not those claims will be able to be brought within the UK Courts.

Currently, all residents of member states are able to drive in other countries without any real issue. Earlier this year the UK reached an agreement with the European Bureau of Council for the UK to remain in the Motor Insurance Free Circulation Zone however as the deal still remains subject to approval from the European Commission it may be that a contingency plan may need to be put in place. If no deal is agreed it is possible that we will have to revert to a “Green Card” scheme for UK drivers to have permission to drive in Europe. 

At their recent FOIL AGM it was interesting to hear Nick Robbins, the MIB’s Chief Public Affairs Officer, set out three possible Green Card Outcomes:

1. Green card-free circulation continur under Article 8, if not agreed

2. Green card and border checks are required, if not agreed

3. Frontier insurance.

As with all things Brexit related at the moment, it is impossible to say where we might end up, but we will continue to keep you updated through our market affairs team.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Bond