Truck insurance explained
Need to insure a truck, lorry or heavy goods vehicle as a lone operator or as part of a fleet?
If you drive a large haulage vehicle, you need to make sure it’s properly covered before you hit the road.
The policy you need could be described as truck, lorry or heavy goods vehicle (HGV) insurance. But these all refer to pretty much the same thing. Here’s what you’ll need to know to get the right deal to meet your needs.
What is truck insurance?
At the most basic level, truck insurance is the policy you need to take a truck or other HGV onto the road.
It ensures that in the event of an accident that’s your fault, you’re protected against claims from other road users for damage or even personal injury.
Truck or HGV insurance is similar to van insurance, in that it’s aimed at the commercial sector and as such should be tailored to business vehicle use.
In many cases you might be able to get a discount with HGV fleet insurance, which insures multiple trucks on the same policy.
As well as potentially saving you money, this could mean considerably less administrative work as renewals come up at the same time each year.
What does truck insurance cover?
As is the case with your standard car insurance policy, there are two main types of cover when it comes to lorry insurance. These are third-party, fire and theft, and comprehensive cover.
Third-party, fire and theft (TPFT) is essentially the bare minimum requirement when you’re insuring a vehicle of any kind.
TPFT provides cover in the following situations:
- If another vehicle is damaged or written off in an accident where you shoulder at least some of the blame.
- In a situation where property is damaged – note that there’s a statutory minimum limit of £1.2 million for property claims. So this is the lowest level of cover that insurers are allowed to offer. Some policies might provide a greater level of cover.
- In the event that someone other than the driver is injured. TPFT could cover personal injury claims in such circumstances.
- If the truck is damaged or destroyed by fire.
- If the truck is stolen or if it’s damaged as a result of theft.
Comprehensive truck insurance policies, on the other hand, might also include cover for damage to your own vehicle as well as to the driver. That’s even if this damage is the driver’s fault.
If you only have TPFT, you might still be able to make a claim against another motorist. This could be for damage to your vehicle or personal injury if the accident was their fault.
There are also a number of policy extras that you could add to your truck insurance, or which come as standard depending on the insurer.
- The ability to choose which repairer you use in the event of any damage
- Assistance with the removal of debris after an accident
- Covering the costs of towing a broken-down or undriveable truck following an accident
- Changing or replacing locks and keys
- Getting the truck back to you after it has been stolen.
Not every insurance provider offers the same extras. So, it’s essential you check the terms and conditions of your policy to make sure you understand exactly what you’re covered for.
There are also some extras that you usually have to choose as an optional extra, but might increase the cost of your policy.
- Additional cover for trips to mainland Europe or the Republic of Ireland
- HGV breakdown cover
- Cover for the goods you’re transporting
- Legal protection cover, which could help cover legal and court fees in the event you need to take court action against another road user
- Hazardous goods cover for businesses that transport dangerous loads
- Public liability protection, which covers the cost of defending claims from members of the public or customers
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How to choose the right truck insurance for your business
If you’re driving an HGV or other large truck, you’re probably doing so as part of a business. That could be either as a one-person band or part of a larger fleet.
Commercial truck driving can be split into two main categories: haulage and carriage of goods.
- Haulage means there is just a single pick-up and drop-off point.
- Carriage of goods entails a number of drop-off points.
Make sure that your truck insurance policy is suitable for the way in which your truck is going to be used.
If you’re an employer with a number of trucks on your books, HGV fleet insurance could be worth considering as a way to save both money and hassle.
You might qualify for fleet insurance even if you just have two or three trucks on your books.
Do you need special insurance for recovery trucks?
Recovery trucks that provide assistance in the event of a breakdown or accident need insurance too. It can be insured on its own, or it can be covered as part of a fleet of other vehicles.
There are a number of providers that offer specialist insurance for recovery trucks, so it’s worth shopping around.
What's the difference between HGVs and LGVs?
LGVs (light goods vehicles) have a maximum gross weight of 3.5 tonnes, which includes passengers, cargo as well as fuel.
Pick-up trucks and vans are typically classified as LGVs. Usually, you’re allowed to drive LGVs with a standard driving licence but check before you do so.
You might be required to do some extra training before you can get behind the wheel of certain kinds of LGVs.
Lorries or HGVs have a gross weight of over 3.5 tonnes – 7.5 tonne lorries are particularly common, for example.
Some of the more widespread examples include articulated lorries – also known as artics.
These consist of a tractor at the front connected via a pivot bar to a trailer – and other lorries with more than two axles.
For more information, check out our guide to van body types.
Before you take a vehicle like this onto the road, you need to carry out the relevant training and apply for an upgraded driving licence.
The Certificate of Professional Competence (CPD) for HGV drivers involves four tests and 35 hours of training in order to keep the licence valid. This needs to be renewed every five years.
Normally, truck insurance policies are for vehicles that weigh no more than 44 tonnes. If you want to insure anything heavier, you might have to look for a specialist policy.
What's the difference between a truck and a lorry?
It’s not always easy to say whether you’re driving a truck or a lorry. The problem is that these terms tend to be used interchangeably, or at least without any clear, widely agreed definition.
In general terms, truck tends to be more widespread in American English, while lorry is much more commonly used in the UK.
In fact, this word is rarely heard in the United States. Both trucks and lorries are classed as heavy goods vehicles or HGVs.
To add to the confusion, the word truck can sometimes be used to refer to a pick-up truck. This is a lighter vehicle with an enclosed cabin and an open cargo area at the rear.
If you want cover for such a vehicle, you might need pickup insurance.
Telematics truck insurance
Telematics truck insurance policies use black-box technology in the vehicle to work out the size of your annual premium.
It does this by monitoring your driving, for example your braking, acceleration, cornering and speed. It also considers the times of day you are most likely to be on the road.
More cautious, sensible drivers tend to be rewarded with lower annual policy costs.
So, if you or your company’s drivers are careful at the wheel, this kind of cover could save you a considerable amount in the long run.
Unsurprisingly, these black box van insurance policies are becoming more common among companies that own fleets of trucks.
Businesses also recognise that by incentivising careful driving, their trucks are less likely to be involved in accidents. This in turn could result in fewer damaged goods or missed delivery deadlines.
How do I reduce the cost of my HGV insurance?
Signing up for a telematics policy is just one way you could reduce the cost of HGV or truck insurance.
If you plan to take your truck outside of the UK, this could push up the cost. And the nature of your business could also have a bearing on premiums.
For example, let’s say your firm is involved in the transport of dangerous or valuable goods. You might pay more if you want these goods to be insured against loss or damage.
It could also cost more to include recovery insurance if you’re concerned about the impact of breakdowns.
But there are several steps you could take to try to reduce your premiums:
- Keeping the HGV in a secure facility when it’s not on the road to reduce the risk of theft.
- Agreeing to pay a higher level of voluntary excess. This means that if you need to claim, you might have to cover more of the cost of the claim out of your own pocket.
- Taking out fleet insurance if you have multiple trucks you need to insure
- Fit cameras that help determine who’s at fault in the event of an accident
- Ensure all drivers have clean licences
- Ask employed drivers to pay their excess - this may encourage safer driving
- Shopping around for truck insurance quotes each year
For more information, check out our guide on how to get cheaper van insurance.