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Why is van insurance so expensive? 14 ways to cut the cost.

Van insurance can seem surprisingly expensive if you’re just used to car insurance.

But when you think about things from an insurer’s point of view, it’s a bit more understandable.

Vans are often out on the road all day, they’re bigger and heavier than cars and have more powerful engines.

And the solid sides and backs don’t exactly help with visibility when you’re manoeuvring.

A delivery driver sitting in a van alongside a parcel checking paperwork on a tablet computer

How to get cheaper van insurance

Given how much van insurance can cost, it’s all the more important to make sure you get a good deal.

There are some details you can’t change when looking for van insurance such as your age, where you live and what you use the van for.

But other things aren’t set in stone.

And there are lots of things you can do to make sure you get a good deal on your van insurance.


1. Shop around for the best van insurance deal

Just because your current van insurer gave you the best deal last year, that may not be the case this year.

Don’t do nothing and let your current insurer auto-renew your policy.

Do your research and see if it is still the best deal. Chances are it won’t be.

So compare van insurance quotes to find out who is offering the best deal for you this time.

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2. Pay for the van insurance in one go

While it may be tempting to spread the cost of your van insurance out over a year, this is likely to cost you more than paying for it in one go.

So if you can, pay for the insurance upfront and not throughout the year to get it cheaper.


3. Drive a van in a lower insurance group

The lower the insurance group, the lower the insurance is likely to be on your van.

Like cars, vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes are put into insurance groups.

And like with cars, the higher the group number the higher the insurance premiums are likely to be.

Somewhat confusingly though, van insurance groups don’t start at 1.

Vans are put into insurance groups labelled 21-50.

To add to the confusion, before 2016 the groups were the logical 1-20.

This is worth bearing in mind when deciding between a new van or used van.

So group 21 is the lowest van insurance group today but group 1 used to be the lowest until a few years ago.

The way of deciding which group a van is allocated to is still the same though.

Thatcham, the research arm of the Association of British Insurers, looks at how expensive it would be to put a van back on the road after a crash.

Factors considered include:

  • The price of the van – expensive vans cost the insurer more if they’re written off.
  • Van performance and engine size – quicker vans with bigger engines tend to be in higher groups.
  • Cost of parts – cheaper parts normally means a lower group.
  • How easy the van is to repair – if it needs to be worked on for longer, this tends to cost more.
  • Security – if the standard security features on a van are good it’s less likely to be stolen.

So it follows that cheaper, smaller-engined vans with good safety features are going to feature in the lower insurance groups.


4. Increase your voluntary excess

Your excess is the amount your insurer deducts from any claim before you get the money.

While a compulsory excess is set by the insurer and can’t be changed, you can vary the amount of the voluntary excess.

So see what difference varying the amount of the voluntary excess does to your quotes when you're comparing van insurance.

Setting a higher voluntary excess may get you lower quotes as an insurer would pay out less of the total claim.

But don’t forget that this means you end up paying more if you claim.


5. Improve your van’s security

Obviously the more security features your van has, the harder it’s going to be to steal.

This means that you're less likely to claim, potentially saving the insurer money.

Adding extra locks to your van can act as a deterrent to would-be thieves.

What locks work best depends on how you use your van.

A deadlock, for instance, may not be practical for a van making multiple drops in a day.

And don’t forget old school devices like steering wheel locks.

Even if thieves manage to start your van, these make it much harder to drive away.


6. Off-street parking for your van

On-street parking may be the only option where you live.

If you’ve the option not to park on the street though, it could bring your premiums down.

When getting your van insurance quotes see what difference it makes when you change the details of where your van is left overnight.

Always be truthful with this though.

If you make a claim and your details don’t check out, it could invalidate your insurance.


7. Advertise your business on the van

Now this one can work 2 ways.

Plastering your name and business all over the van may well make it less attractive to thieves. And so possibly cheaper on the insurance front.

Having some signwriting on your van could also help the police track it down if it’s stolen.

But if it’s covered in a vinyl wrap this may well count as a modification and may mean you need modified van insurance

Having a wrap on your van is certainly something your insurance company and the DVLA will want to know about.

If your van began life white and is now green and purple, the new details need to be registered.


8. Think twice about van modifications

Some modifications could make you less likely to have a claim and so lower your insurance risk.

Things like after-market parking sensors and engine immobilisers.

Other things like the vinyl wrap and tinted windows may be looked on less favourably.


9. Accurately declare how you use your van

When people think of van drivers they tend to assume that the vans are used for work.

But there are plenty of cases where people use vans for non-business reasons.

So make sure you tell the insurance company exactly what you use your van for.

You may be an avid camper or fisherman. So you might have a van to fit all your kit in easily and not use your van commercially at all.

In this case you’d need private van insurance and your premiums would likely reflect this.

Use your van for business? You need to get it insured for business use.

Our guide explains the different classes of van insurance.


10. Consider multi-vehicle policies

You may think that policies that cover more than one vehicle at the same time are just for cars.

But many multicar policies also include things like vans and motorbikes.

If your van is not used commercially, see if a multi-vehicle policy could save you money.


11. Build up a no-claims bonus (NCB)

As with car insurance, you can build up a no-claims bonus on your van insurance.

And the longer you don’t claim, the bigger the NCB should be.

Some insurers might also allow you to transfer a NCB from a car to a van, but you’re only be able to use it on one vehicle at a time.


12. Think about who you put on the van insurance

Think about who really needs to be insured on the van.

Do you need to add your mate who has points on his licence or the apprentice who has only just got their van licence?

Their driving records are likely to bump up the insurance.

But if they do end up driving your van, they must be insured, regardless of the cost. 


13. Be accurate with your mileage

The distance you travel every year in your van can impact how much you pay for your policy.

The more you use your van the more likely you are to make a claim, so the cost of your insurance should reflect this.

You shouldn’t underestimate your mileage to try and get a better price but overestimating it could mean paying over the odds.

Being accurate with your mileage helps you get the right level of cover at the right price.


14. Leave off optional extras you don’t need

Look closely at what’s included in the policy and what you have to pay extra for.

Make sure you’re not paying extra for something you’re never likely to use.

See if it is cheaper to get a policy that includes just the things you need.

If your van is never going to make it out of the UK then you won’t need cover for driving in Europe, for instance.