Nurburgring insurance – understand whether your insurance covers you and what the risks are before you head to Germany for some laps.
Spoiler: if you’re from the UK and take your own car, by default YOU ARE NOT INSURED!
Acknowledged to be the most difficult and dangerous circuit in the world, Jackie Stewart knew what he was talking about when he dubbed the Nurburgring Nordschleife the Green Hell. Whilst the appeal of paying around 30 Euros for a lap ticket during one of the Touristenfahrten (tourist driving) sessions and tackling the 13-mile circuit yourself is undeniable, before you do that you should think about the risks and your liability.
Quite simply, if you’re from the UK and you drive your car over to the Nurburgring for some Touristenfahrten laps, you should be aware that even though it is classed as a public road, your standard road insurance policy does not give you Nurburgring insurance, either for the cost of damage to your own car, or third party liability (and this is the scary one). Read our other article if you’re interested in track days at the Ring.
nurburgring touristenfahrten - what are the risks?
Just like driving your car on any other race track, at the Nurburgring the main risk is crashing. But with blind crests, almost zero run-off areas, 100mph+ corners and varying weather and surface conditions within the same lap, the risks at the Nurburgring, with its well-deserved title of the most dangerous circuit in the world, are higher than anywhere else.
Add in to that the additional risks from tourist driving – no safety briefings, hundreds of cars on track together, first time track drivers doing a ‘fun’ lap with no track knowledge, huge speed differentials between vehicles – and it is easy to see why the risk of having an incident here is higher than at any other circuit in the world.
how much does it cost to crash on the ring?
There are 3 main types of incident that you might be involved in, and these will all incur different costs:
1 – You have an accident and damage your car
2 – You get caught up in someone else’s accident and damage your car
3 – You cause damage to other cars, either by crashing in to them or a mechanical issue on your own car (such as leaking fluid) causes their accidents
In scenarios 1 and 2 you have two types of cost to consider: a) damage to your own car and b) Nurburgring track infrastructure costs such as armco barriers and supporting posts.
In scenario 3 you have an additional cost to consider: c) third party liability – damage to other people’s cars and any other costs associated with these.
€1625 bill for 20m of armco and 4 posts in 2015. Costs have since gone up.
Cost a) – Damage to your own car. You know what your car’s value is, so you know that in the worst case your maximum financial risk is the total value of the car if you were to write it off. Even in scenarios where the damage may not seem too comprehensive, the potential cost of parts, paint and labour may add up to way more than you think. A good example is provided by Misha on his YouTube channel, where he crashed a Porsche Cayman GTS and the total potential repair cost was just under 100k Euros, more than the value of the car, so the car was broken for parts.
Cost b) – Nuburgring track infrastructure costs can come in multiple forms
– Armco barriers (both removal and installation)
– Armco posts (both removal and installation)
– Attendance of armco truck
– Tow truck attendance and recovery
– Safety car attendance
The costs for the above change each year, but CarThrottle suggest that damaging a 20m section of armco would cost over €3000 in this video from 2020.
There are many individual stories out there of specific crash costs – some people having to pay €700 Euros after a light brush with the barriers, others having to pay over €12000 after taking out massive sections of armco. Either way, the track infrastructure costs will no doubt add more financial pain to a miserable day.
Cost c) – Third party liability. This is the scary one. In an accident caused by yourself, you are liable for the costs of damages to other people’s cars. In the worst case scenario, if your car dropped oil or coolant and multiple expensive supercars cars crashed on the fluid, you could be looking at hundreds of thousands of Euros, if not millions, in damages. The last post on this page talks about an incident which racked up a bill close to €2m. Rumour has it this specific incident is one of the reasons insurers wised up to the financial risks of offering Nurburgring insurance.
Also check out this video onboard a GT3 RS that, along with 14 other cars, crashed on dropped oil. Here is a second angle of the same incident. It’s easy to imagine the costs spiralling for an incident like this, without even considering ambulance, hospital or other medical fees should someone be injured
does my uk insurance policy cover me on the Ring?
Why not? Let’s start with first party liability – damage to your own car. Gone are the days in the early 2000s where insurers had not heard of the Nurburgring and simply telling them you had an accident on a German toll road was all it took to get them to pay out. Now, all UK Insurance companies are wise to the Ring and its risks and do not offer insurance for Nurburgring driving. Most UK road car insurance policies will explicitly exclude coverage on the Nurburgring, or if not mentioning it by name directly they will exclude one-way toll roads, racing circuits, prepared courses or something similar.
In 2010 the Financial Ombudsman Service ruled that the Nurburgring Norschleife, on tourist driving days, was a prepared course. Additionally, they ruled there was ‘no restriction on the insurance provider’s right to exclude certain matters affecting the policy holder’s own property and person’. As such, these exclusions within your insurance policy mean that your insurer will not pay out for any damage to your own car sustained on the Nordschleife during touristenfahrten.
So how about third party liability – damage to other people and property, including the track infrastructure. Well in the same ruling the Ombudsman said that UK and EU law requires insurers to provide a minimum of third party only cover, even when the car is used in a situation that invalidates their first party cover (such as on the Ring). So, to comply with UK and EU law, your insurance provider must pay out for third-party damages in the event of a claim against you on the Nordschleife. However…
…However, most insurance policies will also include a clause stating the insurer is entitled to reclaim the total pay out value from the policyholder if the settlement was made in a scenario where it was obligated to meet the claim.
So put simply, if your insurer has paid out for third party damages as required by law, they can come after you for reimbursement of these costs. There have been multiple scenarios of this happening, usually involving lengthy court proceedings.
To summarise, your standard UK road car insurance policy will not cover you for any damage to your own car. And as your insurer will come after your for third-party costs then you have to consider yourself uninsured for that too.
can you insure your car on the nurburgring?
There are a few companies out there, such as MORIS trackday insurance who provide Nurburgring insurance cover for Tourist driving sessions at the Ring on a first-party only basis. They explicitly state that third-party cover is not provided. So should you bin it they will only pay out a pre-determined percentage of your car’s value. Any Nurburgring infrastructure or third-party costs will not be covered.
Above is an example of some costs from Moris for first-party insurance on the Ring. As the car’s values have gone up in the last couple of years, expect the insurance costs to have gone up too.
There are no companies who offer third-party insurance coverage for tourist driving sessions, and it is unlikely there ever will be as the potential third party costs, as we’ve seen already, can easily be huge.
If you have a UK insurance policy and you drive your car on a Tourist session at the Ring, you must consider yourself uninsured. Knowing how easily things can go wrong at the Green Hell, and the potentially life changing sums of money involved in settling third party costs if you are deemed to have caused a massive accident, is that a risk you really want to take?
If you are still desperate to drive the Ring, check out Nurburgring trackdays where your third-party liability is greatly reduced. Alternatively, look at Nurburgring car rental from one of the local motorsport companies who offer track cars especially prepared (and insured) for the Ring. Or, if you want to see just how good the Nurburgring professionals are, consider a Ring taxi lap.