I am planning on riding in Germany and I am concerned that I will not be able to use unrestricted autobahns. I would also like to ride the Nürburgring. Is this policy even legal? I thought we still had free movement in Europe. Can my insurers stop me, legally, riding a German public toll road?
Your insurance is governed by English contract law which must be compliant (for the time being at least) with EU law, which puts a trans-European structure on how insurance is governed. The short answer is, the contract is perfectly lawful. Your rights under EU law are irrelevant as this is not a free-movement question. It’s a contract-of-insurance question.
Contracts of road-traffic insurance must comply with certain minimum EU and national criteria. However, as long as the insurance meets those general criteria of paying out for third-party losses, insurers can impose whatever conditions they like. Your insurer can exclude any risk it chooses to – be it Power Commanders, luggage, pillions or any other voluntary risk.
Most insurers do not want to insure bikes on the Nürburgring and when you applied to take out the insurance, it would have clearly stated “you are not riding the Nürburgring on this policy” if you had checked – and it was your choice to take that policy.
Nobody is stopping you going round the Nürburgring; they are just not going to insure you if you do. However, as the Nürburgring is a public toll road, you will be committing an offence in German criminal law if you ride it without insurance. Trackday insurance will be of no help to you as it only insures your bike for damage, not third-party loss. The chances of being caught for this are slim but if the Polizel has a crackdown you could find yourself in front of the German beak, with your bike seized. German summary prosecutions can be extraordinarily quick.
That would be unfortunate, but it’s nothing compared with the consequences of having an uninsured crash. Under current EU and UK law your insurers could be named as a defendant and would have to meet any claim brought by any EU citizen in their own country, or in a German action for a non-EU citizen. After paying out for the various legal costs and damages, the insurers
would be coming after you for their outlay. This could easily run to tens of thousands of pounds or, if you caused serious harm, protentially hundreds of thousands… or more.
Riding without proper insurance is one of the most dangerous things you can do. The criminal sanctions are not terrible but the civil consequences can be appalling. Being caught without insurance can send you to penury and you risk losing your house and even your pension pot. It is one risk that you really do not want to take if you have anything to lose.
However, as far as I am aware, the Nürburgring is the only unrestricted-speed toll road in the European Union. This means your policy does not exclude riding on German autobahns, as none of them are toll roads (and not all of them are unrestricted). There are toll motorways in other countries but none of those are unrestricted. So the policy will not stop you touring, even if it won’t cover you for riding the Ring.
RiDE Magazine – June 2018