What is the PoV system?
The Protection of Visitors (PoV) system is a protection mechanism for victims of cross-border road traffic accidents that occurred abroad (outside the victim’s country of residence) but only in the territory of the European Economic Area.
This system was established by the European Union in the framework of the European Motor Insurance Directives (EU MIDs), and more precisely by the 4th EU MID that introduced the notion of ‘Protection of Visitors’, as a sort of mirror image of the Green Card system. Where the Green Card system is mainly designed as the protection of a victim suffering damage in their own country, caused by a foreign vehicle, the Protection of Visitors scheme aims to protect the victim of a road traffic accident in Member State other than their Member State of residence.
EU Motor Insurance Directives
Starting from 1972, the European Union progressively adopted six European Directives dealing with compulsory MTPL insurance ("insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability").
1st Directive: 72/166/EEC (1972)
2nd Directive: 84/5/EEC (1984)
3rd Directive : 90/232/EEC (1990)
4th Directive: 2000/26/EC (2000)
5th Directive: 2005/14/EC (2005)
6th Directive: 2021/2118 (24th November 2021)
In 2009, the then five existing directives were superseded by the consolidated text of the Directive 2009/103/EC, known as the ‘Codified Directive’.
The EU MIDs are not directly applicable in the Member States but need to be implemented into national legislation.
Although designed as an element of the construction of the European internal market (with free movement of persons, goods, services and capital), the European Motor Insurance Directives have, from the very beginning, also pursued a satisfactory level of victim protection. Progressively, the adoption of the Directives has reinforced the protection offered both to the consumer covered by an MTPL insurance and to the victim of road traffic accidents caused by the use of motor vehicles.
As such, the Directives have, amongst others:
- determined what risks must be covered by MTPL insurance;
- limited the exclusions allowed by MTPL insurance;
- restricted the exclusions of cover that can be opposed to victims;
- improved the situation of victims of accidents caused by unidentified or uninsured vehicles;
- introduced additional protection schemes for victims of accidents caused in Member States other than the victim's Member State of residence.
Among the main innovations created by the EU MIDs:
- The 1st EU MID introduced the notion of ‘territory in which a vehicle is normally based’ which abolished the Green Card checks at intra-EEA borders. A vehicle registered in one of the EEA countries is presumed to be validly insured in this country and can travel within the EEA without carrying a Green Card. Even if the vehicle turns out not to be correctly insured , the guarantee of the Green Card Bureau of the country in which the vehicle is normally based will apply.
- The most important achievement of the 4th EU MID is the introduction of the Protection of Visitors scheme for victims of accidents occurred in another Member State than their Member State of residence. As such it can be seen as the mirror image of the Green Card System.
The EU MIDs provide for the establishment of various bodies in each Member State:
1. The Guarantee Funds
= provide compensation to victims of accidents caused by vehicles that are:
- unidentified (vehicles of which the identity or insurer cannot be traced) or
- uninsured (vehicles for which the insurance obligation has not been satisfied).
The conditions for intervention can be found in Article 10 of the Codified Directive. Member States are free to confine other tasks to Guarantee Funds on the national territory (e.g. intervention in case of insolvency of insurers).
The Guarantee Funds are established in each EEA country in execution of the 2nd EU MID.
2. The Compensation Bodies
= responsible for compensating the victims of accidents caused in a Member State other than the state where the victim has their residence, in the four following situations:
- No Claims Representative appointed: in case an insurance company has not nominated a claims representative in a certain Member State, the role of the claims representative in that Member State shall be taken over by a Compensation Body.
- No reasoned reply within a period of 3 months: the Compensation Body will intervene in the case where the insurer of the liable vehicle or its claims representative has not provided a “reasoned reply” to the claim within 3 months of the date when the visiting victim presented his/her claim for compensation.
- The vehicle responsible for the accident is not identified.
- The insurer of the responsible vehicle is not identified within two months after the accident.
The Compensation Bodies are established in each EEA country in execution of the 4th EU MID.
3. The Information Centres
= responsible for keeping registers of:
- the registration numbers of the vehicles (license plates) of the country concerned;
- the number of its Motor Third Party Liability (MTPL) insurance policy;
- insurance companies and their claims representatives;
- the list of vehicles exempt from MTPL cover and the details of the body covering those vehicles (if applicable).
In that way, Information Centres can assist victims to identify the right body to turn to.
Each Information Centre is also responsible for coordinating the compilation and dissemination of this information to entitled persons (victims, insurers, Compensation Bodies, Guarantee Funds…).
Information Centres are established in each EEA country in execution of the 4th EU MID. In addition, by way of agreement (Information Centre Agreement), third countries can join the international cooperation between Information Centres.
According to the 4th Motor Insurance Directive, every insurer in the European Economic Area (EEA) covering MTPL must appoint a claims representative (CR) in every other EEA Member State.
This CR is allowed to receive and handle claims addressed by victims in their country of residence (and where the CR is established) after suffering an accident abroad (in another EEA Member State).
This is a facility created by the EU to allow visiting victims to formulate their claim in their own language to a claims representative established in their country or residence.
The choice of CRs is left to the discretion of the insurance company concerned. A CR may work for one or more insurance companies.
However the following conditions must be fulfilled:
- The CR must be established in the Member State where they are appointed;
- The CR must have sufficient powers to represent the insurance company concerned;
- The CR must be capable of examining claims in the official language(s) of the victim’s country of residence.
This protection system will however not alter the rules determining the law applicable to the road traffic accident.
The 4th EU MID also requires insurers and claims representatives to provide a prompt settlement of claims: they must answer a claim with a reasoned offer for compensation or with a reasoned reply within a period of three months.
In case an insurer has not appointed a CR or when the insurer or CR does not formulate a reasoned offer or reasoned reply within the required time limit, the victim can address a claim to the Compensation Body in their country of residence. Sanctions can be applied in accordance with the national law of the Member State in which the insurer that appointed the CR is registered.
Duties of the Claims Representatives
- CR collects all necessary information for the settlement of the claims and takes all the required measures to negotiate the claims.
- CR provides the victim with an offer from compensation within three months of the demand or a reasoned reply when an offer cannot (yet) be provided.
- The reasoned reply shall address the points made in the claim when liability is denied, not clearly determined or the damages have not been fully quantified.
- Should an offer or a reasoned reply not be provided in the deadline set:
- Victims have the right to bring their claim to the Compensation Body of their Member State of residence;
- Sanctions can be applied in accordance with the national law of the Member State in which the insurer that appointed the claims representative is registered.