The European Commission wants all users of electric bikes to get third-party insurance as part of new proposals aimed at strengthening European Union rules on motor insurance to better protect victims of motor vehicle accidents and improve the rights of insurance policyholders.
Under the Motor Insurance Directive, the EU has proposed that electric bicycles of 25km/h – 250W, Segways and electric scooters would all now be required to have third-party insurance in Europe. Cycling an e-bike without third-party insurance would be cycling illegally.
It is expected that there will be some 62 million e-bikes in Europe by 2030, and unsurprisingly, opposition to the proposal is mounting.
The European Cyclists’ Federation has argued that the EU is “trying to criminalise millions of current power-assisted bicycle users, almost all of whom have some kind of other insurance, and has effectively banned pedelec use without insurance usually reserved for motor vehicles”.
MEP Brian Hayes said the latest proposal was "EU bureaucracy gone mad".
“More and more electric bikes are on our streets in Ireland and across the EU. They offer an environmentally friendly alternative to using a car and are increasingly used by people as a means of transport to work,” Mr Hayes said, adding that the rise of electric bikes had been “a huge success story” and the commission’s proposal would “bring that story to an end with this harsh proposal”.
And it’s not just electric bikes that need some form of insurance cover; the directive also proposes that vehicles used on private property, such as golf buggies on golf courses and tractors and other farming vehicles, must also be covered.
“The commission is enforcing a disproportionate ECJ [European Court of Justice] ruling, the so-called Vnuk ruling, which states that all vehicles used on private property must have third-party insurance. This includes golf buggies on golf courses, it covers motorsport races and it covers farming vehicles,” said Mr Hayes.
In Ireland, the Road Traffic Act states that vehicles require third-party insurance when used on public roads, and there is effectively no market for insurance for vehicles on private property.
“I, along with other MEPs and member states have been campaigning to ensure that this ECJ ruling is rectified in the Motor Insurance Directive but the commission has done the opposite and has actually reinforced the negative effects of this ruling,” Mr Hayes said.