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Car drivers face £200million electric scooter crash bill

Car drivers are set to pay higher insurance premiums because of accidents caused by electric scooter riders, industry chiefs have warned.

In the UK, the insurance industry is left with the bill for all incidents involving uninsured vehicles, not just cars. It means they are also liable for collisions involving golf buggies, ride-on lawn mowers, quad bikes and e-scooters.

The Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) has received claims of more than £100 million so far, but it estimates that bill will balloon to between £200 million and £2 billion a year as the number of claims increase – which could lead to a £50 rise in the cost of annual insurance for the average motorist.

It is a particular issue with electric scooters because although they are widely used by commuters, they remain illegal on public roads, cycle lanes and pavements, so cannot be insured.

Fresh fears were raised about their safety last week after 57-year-old Barrie Howes, from Rochester, Kent, was named as the second person in Britain to die in an e-scooter accident.

The current situation has arisen because of a 2014 European Court of Justice case involving a Slovenian farmhand who was knocked off a ladder by a reversing tractor.

As a result of that ruling, anything with a motor must be insured – and in cases where that has been flouted, victims should be compensated from a central fund, which in Britain is administered by the MIB.

The ruling controversially covered private land, such as motor racing circuits and even private gardens – something that Prime Minister Boris Johnson found so outrageous that he dedicated a newspaper column to it in 2017. But the law remains in place.

Even when Britain fully leaves the European Union, the Government will still need to introduce legislation to change the situation.

Dominic Clayden, chief executive of the MIB, explained: ‘All we do is pass on that cost. So it is the motorist that is going to pay for all this.’

Drivers have long had to pay to cover accidents involving uninsured cars, but Mr Clayden added: ‘It may not be something you’re hugely happy about, but at least it’s a car driver paying for other car drivers.

‘What we’ve got now is you as a car driver paying for e-scooter riders and for quad bikes on private land. We’ve got claims for people who hurt themselves in buggies on golf courses under this – you’re paying for all of that as well.’

Laurenz Gerger, from the Association of British Insurers, said: ‘What I would be concerned about is if you didn’t have compulsory insurance for e-scooters, then you would have motorists paying for their accidents. It’s effectively forcing people who drive cars, and have to have insurance, to pay a levy towards the use of devices that are not subject to the same rules.’

The Department for Transport said: ‘The Government expressed its disappointment about this judgment at the time it was handed down.

‘We oppose any measure which imposes an unreasonable burden on motorists. This is exactly the sort of rule that the UK has the option to opt out of once we leave the [Brexit] transition period and Ministers will shortly be making a decision on this issue.’

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