EU Seeks to Harmonize Auto Coverage

June 11, 2002

The European Commission (EC) in Brussels has announced proposals to harmonize the European Union’s automobile insurance regulations.

The EC wants all policies to cover third party liability up to € 1 million ($945,000) for accident victims and up to € 500,000 ($472,500) instead of the € 350,000 ($330,750) and € 100,000 ($94,500) limits currently in force.

The EC also proposed regulations designed to harmonize some of the existing practices to assure that the citizens of EU countries have similar rules for auto insurance.

These include provisions to make it easier for policyholders to negotiate premium rates by requiring insurers to provide them with accident report forms within two weeks of the expiration of their policies; provisions relating to “short term” policies, which would prevent cancellation if an insured remains out of his home country for more than three months, and would also make it easier to purchase vehicles in other European countries by making sure they can be insured.

According to a report from Dow Jones Newswires, the new proposals are mainly aimed to bring Southern European countries, notably Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal (as well as Ireland), into conformity with the standards commonly in place in the rest of the EU.

The regulations must be approved by the European Parliament and by the 15 individual countries that currently make up the EU. If adopted they would also apply to the countries of Eastern Europe which are currently in the process of becoming EU members.

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