Fleet News

Guest opinion: act instantly on 4th Directive

Donald Martin, project manager at the Motor Insurers' Information Centre, warns that time is running out to comply with the Fourth EU Motor Insurance Directive.

'WITH a month remaining before the Fourth EU Motor Insurance Directive becomes law, it is important that fleet operators big and small take matters in hand to ensure they will be able to meet the January 20 deadline.

##DonaldMartin--left## After that date, not meeting your obligations will be a criminal offence. For those unfamiliar with the directive, its primary role is to improve the ease with which cross-border claims in Europe can be handled.

The directive will require that the insurers of all UK vehicles are readily identifiable by an information centre, using only a vehicle registration number. In the UK, compiling this data is the responsibility of the Motor Insurers' Information Centre.

To do this, we are using the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to tackle the growing problem of uninsured driving.

Phase one of the Motor Insurance Database, which deals with individually-insured vehicles, has been operational since September 5, 2001. In that period it has built up a comprehensive base of some 26 million vehicles and handles in excess of 23,000 police enquiries per day.

Phase two, which went live in October, has some 250,000 vehicles out of the projected four million loaded already from the initial group of insurers. Many others are close to completing their testing and we hope that soon every insurer will have loaded their policy data – this has to happen before vehicle data can be loaded, either directly by policyholders or by the insurers themselves.

A key concern that exists in the fleet market (which we at the MIIC share) is the late delivery of and therefore lack of detail available around the implementing legislation which will support the directive. The latest information from the Department for Transport (DfT) suggests it will be available late November and that it will require the provision of data from the policyholder within 14 days.

It is likely that insurers' legislative obligations will be controlled via their proposed self regulatory regime (which sets out very stringent obligations on their part and demonstrates their clear commitment to ensuring the MID is a success).

In terms of more detailed issues, we currently understand that the legislation will make an exception for vehicles covered by any policy for a period of 14 days or less – temporary additional vehicles. In other words they will not need to be notified.

Although we have had discussions with the DfT around other potential exemptions, particularly in the motor trade arena, it seems unlikely that exceptions will be made in these cases.

According to the findings of a recent survey, commissioned by the MIIC in conjunction with Fleet News to gauge the readiness of the fleet community to meet the January deadline, 36% of those surveyed said they were ready to supply data immediately.

This high response rate is welcome and demonstrates the growing realisation within the fleet community that the directive is something that needs to be taken seriously.

The bad news is that nearly one in four motor fleet policyholders was unaware of the impending legislation, 33% did not know that they needed to submit details of vehicles covered by their insurance policies by January 20 and over a third (35%) hadn't heard of the Motor Insurance Database. So there's a lot to do in a relatively short space of time.

The next few months will be challenging but we are confident that with the fleet and motor trade community's co-operation we can make the MID a success and help to put a stop to uninsured driving. That can only be to everyone's benefit.

My key message to all fleet managers is: do not wait if you have not heard from your insurer – chase them up and make sure they help you understand how they are approaching the directive and what is required of you.'

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