I think Marty McFly would be pleased to see that hoverboards are now fast becoming a reality in the UK. As we reach 21 October 2015, the date that McFly set in the DeLorean to arrive back to the future, it’s quite fitting that we are now seeing a large amount of media coverage on these devices. In recent weeks we have seen a flurry of news articles, social media posts and photos of celebrities riding hoverboards, rideables and Segways. Some with less than ideal consequences.
Recently, we were witness to an incident involving Usain Bolt at the World Athletic Championships when he was knocked over by a cameraman on his Segway. This alternative mode of transport is becoming more fashionable and is readily available, yet what most people appear to be unaware of is the risk if injury should occur. Many of these methods of transport are being used on busy streets and in some cases as a means of transport to get around cities to see the sites.
What happens if injury occurs which could be serious?
The insurance position for such vehicles is about to change. A motor vehicle – not just registered for road use – functioning normally and used anywhere on land may soon require compulsory insurance. Following the ECJ ruling in Vnuk, the government will shortly issue a consultation paper. That consultation will need to consider what vehicles will fall outside the requirement for compulsory insurance.
Will Segways, hoverboards, etc be excluded? We will have to wait and see but, celebrities such as Lily Allen and David Beckham, who have all proudly paraded their hoverboard skills on social media, may have to ensure there is appropriate insurance in place in the future, even if the Crown Prosecution Service does not prosecute for using the transport on public roads. Whilst the Department of Transport states that it is legal to use these vehicles on private land, that still may not avoid the requirement to obtain a compulsory insurance policy for the device, to ensure the user is covered in the event of an accident with a third party.
Written by James Harvey, partner and member of BLM’s Vnuk team