OFESAUTO is here to provide you with all the information regarding Brexit as it applies to Motor Compulsory Third Party Liability Insurance (hereafter MTPL) for both British and Spanish vehicles circulating either in Spain or Britain.
On the 31st January 2020 the UK formally left the European Union (EU) and entered the “transition” period which ends on the 31st December 2020.
Here you will find official answers to:
- Spanish vehicles entering the UK after 31st December 2020. What insurance documentation must I carry?
- British vehicles entering Spain after 31st December 2020. What insurance documentation must I carry?
- What will happen if I have an accident in Spain caused by a British vehicle after the 31st December 2020?
- What will happen if I cause an accident in the UK with a Spanish vehicle after the 31st December 2020?
- What happens if I have an accident in the UK caused by a British vehicle?
- What happens if my Spanish vehicle is stolen in the UK or if I suffer a collision in the UK which does not involve any other third party vehicles?
- Will I still be able to take advantage of the claims system laid out in the European Community Directives by which a Spanish victim of an accident occurring in the UK can claim for damages from Spain?
Spanish vehicles entering the UK after 31st December 2020. What insurance documentation must I carry?
The UK Government has indicated that it will not be mandatory to carry a Green Card (International Insurance Certificate). You will need to be able to provide any and all documentation issued by the insurance company that proves that the vehicle has MTPL, which could be a Green Card, or any other relevant document either paper or in electronic format. Said document must include the name of the insurance company, the number plate of the vehicle insured, make and model of the vehicle insured and the period of the cover in question.
The above mentioned information is available on the UK Government’s web page which we would recommend you take a look at before making any trip to the UK with a Spanish vehicle, just in case there have been any last minute changes: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-after-brexit#driving-in-the-uk.
British vehicles entering Spain after 31st December 2020. What insurance documentation must I carry?
As you may know, free and unrestricted movement of vehicles is guaranteed among all countries in the EEA (European Economic Area) thanks to the wording of the European Community Directives.
Article 8 of the Directive 2009/103/CE establishes that this right may be extended to vehicles from third party countries (which would be the case with the UK) provided that the EU adopts a clearly stated resolution such as has happened in the past with countries such as with Andorra, Switzerland, Serbia and most recently with Bosnia Herzegovina. This agreement, which would be definitive and which would allow British vehicles to circulate throughout the EEA without any type of control regarding insurance documentation, hasn’t yet been adopted by the European Commission (as of 18th November 2020).As such and until there has been an agreement by the EC, Spanish customs officials and any or all of the Spanish authorities, police etc, can carry out controls regarding insurance documentation on British vehicles.
Does this then mean that British Vehicles circulating in Spain are obliged to demonstrate their insurance cover by means of the Green Card? No it doesn’t.
Article 2.3 of the CONSOLIDATED TEXT OF THE LAW ON CIVIL RESPONSIBILITY AND INSURANCE OF MOTOR VEHICLES IN CIRCULATION says that:
“Spanish customs authorities shall be qualified to check the existence of MPTL which covers at the very least the conditions and guarantees established under Spanish law, of all vehicles trying to gain access to Spanish territory, which are registered in any country which is not a member of the EEA and which is not covered by the Agreement between the national insurance offices of the member states of the EEA and of other associated states. If such insurance is not in place, the authorities may demand the vehicle take out said policy, otherwise access shall be denied.”
The “Agreement between the national insurance offices of the member states of the EEA and of other associated states” referred to in the article is the Multilateral Guarantee Agreement to which both the UK (plus other countries which are not in the EEA) and Spain are signees.
As such the law clearly states that the customs authorities are qualified to check the existence of insurance cover regarding these vehicles but it doesn’t say anything specifically relating to the Green Card as a means of proving it. That said it can do no harm to have one as an additional means of proof.
As indicated in point 1, this is the very same interpretation made by the UK authorities regarding EU vehicles planning to enter the UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting- the-uk-after-brexit#driving-in-the-uk.
Furthermore, OFESAUTO considers that conversely if the article 2.3 refers to the verification of insurance of foreign vehicles from countries other than members of the Multilateral Guarantee Agreement, then foreign vehicles from countries which are indeed members of the Multilateral Guarantee Agreement (even if they’re not members of the EEA) should not be obliged to prove they have insurance cover.
Lastly, we at OFESAUTO believe that by the principles of reciprocity Spain should take the same stance as the UK regarding the Green Card, considering it not obligatory for British vehicles circulating in Spain after the 31st December 2020.
What will happen if I have an accident in Spain caused by a British vehicle after the 31st December 2020?
The current situation will remain the same. Any victim of an accident in Spain caused by a foreign vehicle will be guaranteed attention as is currently the case. In the case of damage or injury to the vehicle or its occupants you should report it to you Spanish insurance company. Further information is available here: https://www.ofesauto.es/en/competent-body-search-engine/.
What will happen if I cause an accident in the UK with a Spanish vehicle after the 31st December 2020?
The current situation will remain the same. Any victim of an accident in the UK caused by a Spanish vehicle will be guaranteed attention as is currently the case. You should report the accident to your Spanish insurance company and fill out the necessary paperwork as indicated by them.
What happens if I have an accident in the UK caused by a British vehicle?
If you’re in a Spanish vehicle we would recommend that you get in touch with your Spanish insurance company as most Spanish companies will continue to offer service to their policyholders when in the UK.
If the accident happens in other circumstance, ie. as a pedestrian or cyclist, or if your property is damaged etc, you should get in touch with the owner and/or insurance company of the British vehicle which caused the accident.
What happens if my Spanish vehicle is stolen in the UK or if I suffer a collision in the UK which does not involve any other third party vehicles?
It is highly recommended that you verify your cover (especially things you can opt into such as fire and theft, broken windows/windscreen, roadside recovery etc) BEFORE you enter the UK with a Spanish vehicle. In the case of fully comprehensive cover it is also a very good idea to check what is actually covered when abroad before you travel.
You need to verify in which territories you are covered, as there are exceptions to certain policies which limit cover to the EEA (in which the UK after 31st December will no longer be included, for example).
Will I still be able to take advantage of the claims system laid out in the European Community Directives by which a Spanish victim of an accident occurring in the UK can claim for damages from Spain?
You will no longer be able to use the guarantee mechanisms laid out by the EU for accidents which occur in the UK from the 31st December. That means that if the victim of an accident wants to claim for damages resulting in an accident in the UK from Spain, they will have to do so directly or by services which may be provided by their insurance company. Neither OFESAUTO (as the Spanish Compensation Body), nor the Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros (as the Spanish Guarantee Fund and Information Centre) will be obliged to intervene.
Likewise British victims of accidents which occur in Spain and who wish to claim from the UK will find themselves unable to make use of the mechanisms and EU Organizations which were set up in their country.