Some of you may have heard that road traffic insurance is compulsory for track days following the European Court of Justice’s decision in a case called Vnuk.
This resulted in a very startled reaction from the UK racing and track day world. So, if you ride track days, or race, do you need insurance?
No more than you did before Vnuk but with one big caveat. The EC] said, and I summarise, ‘if you use a vehicle in a way which a vehicle might be expected to be used, then it has to be treated as though it were insured’.
Take the scenario that you have knocked a rider off their bike on a United Kingdom race track. The injured rider will have to prove your riding was negligent for the race track, and they will also have to show that they have not voluntarily assumed the risks of foreseeable harm on the race track. If they get over those hurdles then they have a claim, but always had such a claim.
The big difference, post Vnuk is your insurance for the bike now has to pick up their tab whereas before you would have had to pick up the tab. If you are asked on your proposal ‘do you take your bike on track days?’ and you answer ‘No’ then if you have such a track day crash then you are in a lot of very expensive bother. Do not lie or evade questions on proposals. Your Insurers take the premium based on the risks that they ask you about. If asked always answer honestly and check, double check and recheck your proposal form before you sign it.
As a matter of Road Traffic law you are not compelled to have insurance for a track bike. However where things get really sticky is that if you insure your road bike there will almost certainly be an exclusion clause for use on the track. That means you are outside of your contract of insurance but not in breach of the criminal law.
As a matter of long established law the insurer has long had to meet any judgement not withstanding exclusion clauses if the loss arises ‘from the use of a vehicle in a public place or a place to which the public has access’ but following the decision in Vnuk which defines ‘use’ much more widely than it was previously interpreted. It is now any use which a vehicle might be realistically put to and that does include the racetrack.
I am not convinced that Vnuk makes a huge difference to track day riders on track day bikes. The reality is you were always personally liable for negligent race track riding and the law as to the voluntary assumption of risk by other track users has not changed so Vnuk has not really made any difference apart from this. If you are using an insured road bike, if you have said on your proposal that you do not use the bike on the track then your insurers will come after you for any pay out they make arising from a track day mishap.
Finally, track day insurance is of no assistance – I have yet to see a policy which covers you for third party risk.
Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.
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