Compulsory motor insurance

Motor insurance is compulsory liability insurance. This means that if a person who has entered into a motor insurance contract causes damage with the vehicle covered by the contract, they will not have to compensate for the damage themselves, but it will be done by the insurer.

Which vehicles must be insured? Which vehicles do not have to be insured? When does a vehicle not need to be insured? Who must take out insurance? Do I have to carry my insurance policy with me? Motor insurance of snowmobiles and ATVs

Which vehicles must be insured?

A motor insurance contract must be entered into for the following motor vehicles and their trailers:

  • a vehicle registered in the motor register;

This means all of the vehicles subject to registration in the motor register, incl. passenger cars, lorries, buses, mopeds, motorbikes, tractors. A contract must also be entered into for the trailers of such vehicles.

For example, if an ATV is registered as an off-road vehicle (that belongs in category MS1, MS2), then it is not a motor vehicle and taking out motor insurance for this ATV is not necessary.

  • tram and trolleybus;
  • a vehicle with a removable licence plate issued in Estonia, a test-drive vehicle with a temporary licence plate (motor insurance applies to a certain vehicle, not the licence plate)
  • a vehicle with a transit licence plate issued in Estonia;
  • a vehicle whose main location is in a foreign country.

Only an insurer of the country where the vehicle is mainly located can enter into a motor insurance contract for a vehicle whose main location is in a Contracting Party to the European Economic Area Agreement or the Swiss Confederation.

A frontier insurance contract or the green card of the main country of location can be entered into for a vehicle whose main location is outside a Contracting Party to the European Economic Area Agreement or the Swiss Confederation.

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Which vehicles do not have to be insured?

A vehicle that is not covered by motor insurance may not be used in traffic. A motor vehicle registered in the motor register or its trailer must be covered by effective motor insurance at all times, apart from three exceptions.

  • Vehicles of the Defence Forces, the Security Police Board, the Defence League and the Police and Border Guard Board do not have to insured in Estonia.
  • Insurance must not be taken out within the 12 calendar months following the expiry of the contract on the condition that the vehicle does not participate in traffic during this time and is not used in any other manner that might cause an insured event.

the 12-month exception is meant for seasonal vehicles, such as mopeds that are not used in winter.

The exemption period ends if the vehicle is deleted from the register.

  • Antique vehicles or racing cars that are not used in traffic do not have to be insured.

Mandatory insurance is applied if a vehicle is not insured.

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When does a vehicle not need to be insured?

As an exception, a vehicle in the motor register or its trailer may be not covered with motor insurance during the 12 months following the expiry of the contract. The vehicle may not participate in traffic during the exemption period and it may not be used in any other manner that might cause an insured event.

The exemption period starts from the moment of expiry of the last motor insurance contract and ends when:

  • 12 months pass from the expiry of the last motor insurance contract;

For example, if motor insurance expires on 15 October 2016, the exemption periods ends on 15 October 2017 at the latest.

  • the new insurance period starts; or
  • the vehicle is deleted, incl. temporarily, from the motor insurance register.

Using the vehicle in traffic during this period is punishable with a fine. If damage is caused with the vehicle during this period, the last insurer will indemnify the victim for the damage, but the person who caused the damage must compensate the insurer for the indemnity it paid out.

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Who must take out insurance?

Insurance must be taken out:

  • by a person entered in the motor register if no authorised user of the vehicle has been entered in the register;
  • the person entered in the motor register as the authorised user of the vehicle.
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Do I have to carry my insurance policy with me?

In Estonia, the existence of insurance is verified on the basis of the data in the register and you do not have to carry your policy with you when driving here.

However, you must have the policy on you when you’re abroad. You must have the Green Card with you in the Green Card countries that are not Contracting Parties to the EEA Agreement.

The Green Card is a special type of policy, which proves that in addition to Estonia and the Contracting States, the insurance is also valid in the third country specified on the Green Card. It also pays to take your Green Card with you when you travel to Contracting States further away from Estonia.

Examples

SituationInsurance obligationResponsible insurer if an insured event is caused with the vehicle in question
The vehicle is registered in the motor register and it has valid motor insurance.The insurance obligation has been met.The insurer who entered into the insurance contract or the insurer of the party to whom damage was caused.
The vehicle is registered in the motor register, but motor insurance has never been taken out.

The vehicle is covered by mandatory insurance (automatic motor insurance).

Taking out motor insurance is the reasonable thing to do if the vehicle is used in traffic. If the vehicle is not used in traffic, it would be reasonable to have it deleted from the register.

Estonian Traffic Insurance Fund (LKF)

The owner or authorised user of the vehicle that caused the damage must pay the LKF 640 euros (excess).

The vehicle is registered in the motor register, but the motor insurance expired less than 12 months ago.

The insurance obligation has not been breached if the vehicle is not used in traffic.

If the vehicle is used in traffic, the insurance obligation has not been met and automatic motor insurance will not apply either.

The insurer who entered into the last insurance contract.

The owner or authorised user of the vehicle that caused the damage must pay the insurer the indemnity that the insurer paid out to the victim.
The vehicle is registered in the motor register, but the motor insurance expired less than 12 months ago, the owner of the vehicle changed after the expiry of the contract.

The insurance obligation has not been breached if the vehicle is not used in traffic.

If the vehicle is used in traffic, the insurance obligation has not been met and automatic motor insurance will not apply either.

The insurer who entered into the last insurance contract.

The owner or authorised user of the vehicle that caused the damage must pay the insurer the indemnity that the insurer paid out to the victim.
The vehicle is registered in the motor register, but the motor insurance expired more than 12 months ago.

The insurance obligation has not been breached if the vehicle is not used in traffic.

If the vehicle is used in traffic, the insurance obligation has not been met and automatic motor insurance will not apply either.

The insurer who entered into the last insurance contract.

The owner or authorised user of the vehicle that caused the damage must pay the insurer the indemnity that the insurer paid out to the victim.
The vehicle is registered in the motor register, but the motor insurance expired more than 12 months ago.

Mandatory insurance (automatic motor insurance) is applied to the vehicle.

Taking out motor insurance is the reasonable thing to do if the vehicle is used in traffic. If the vehicle is not used in traffic, it would be reasonable to have it deleted from the register.

LKF

The owner or authorised user of the vehicle that caused the damage must pay the LKF 640 euros (excess).
The insurance contract has expired, because the vehicle was temporarily or permanently deleted from the motor register. The end date of the temporary deletion has not arrived yet.

There is no insurance obligation if the vehicle is not used in traffic.

If the vehicle is used in traffic, the insurance obligation has not been met and automatic motor insurance will not apply either.

LKF

The owner of the vehicle that caused the damage must pay the LKF the indemnity that the LKF paid out to the victim.
The insurance contract has expired, because the vehicle was temporarily deleted from the motor register due to the change of owners of the vehicle, but the new owner did not register the change.

There is no insurance obligation if the vehicle is not used in traffic.

If the vehicle is used in traffic, the insurance obligation has not been met and automatic motor insurance will not apply either.

LKF

The owner of the vehicle that caused the damage must pay the LKF the indemnity that the LKF paid out to the victim.
The insurance contract has expired, because the vehicle was temporarily deleted from the motor register. The end date of the temporary deletion of the vehicle has passed. No contract has been entered into after the end of the temporary deletion of the vehicle.

The vehicle is covered by mandatory insurance (automatic motor insurance).

Taking out motor insurance is the reasonable thing to do if the vehicle is used in traffic. If the vehicle is not used in traffic, it would be reasonable to have it deleted from the register.

LKF

The owner or authorised user of the vehicle that caused the damage must pay the LKF 640 euros (excess).

 

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Motor insurance of snowmobiles and ATVs

A motor insurance contract can only be entered into for a motor vehicle or its trailer that must be registered in the motor register. A motor vehicle is a vehicle propelled by a motor. A bicycle with a motor, a small moped, an off-road vehicle and a vehicle whose manufacturer’s speed is less than six kilometres per hour are not deemed to be motor vehicles.

A snowmobile and an ATV registered as an off-road vehicle are off-road vehicles. This is why the must not and cannot be covered with a motor insurance contract.

The owner of a snowmobile and an ATV registered as an off-road vehicle is liable for the damage they caused if they don’t have a voluntary liability insurance contract.

There are countries, e.g. Finland, Sweden and Norway, where the motor insurance obligation also applies to snowmobiles and ATVs.

If a snowmobile or ATV whose main location is in Estonia is used in a foreign country, it must be kept in mind that:

  • compulsory motor insurance cannot be taken out for these vehicles in Estonia;
  • motor insurance cannot be taken out for these vehicles in another Contracting Party to the EEA Agreement either;
  • the driver must compensate for any damage they cause with the vehicle.

For example, if damage is caused in Finland with a snowmobile whose main location is Estonia, the Finnish Motor Insurance Centre will indemnify the victim for the damage, and the TIF will in its turn will compensate the Finnish Motor Insurance Centre for this. The TIF will submit a claim for the amount to the person who caused the damage.

If using a snowmobile or ATV whose main location is in Estonia in a foreign country cannot be avoided, then you should definitely take out voluntary liability insurance that covers the damage caused with a snowmobile or ATV.

You must also keep in mind that in a country where snowmobiles and ATVs have to be covered by insurance, you may be fined by the police for driving without motor insurance. The fact that the main location of the snowmobile or ATV is in Estonia will not release you from the fine. Voluntary liability insurance does not cover the damage caused by a fine.

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