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Van insurance classes of use explained

When you get a van insurance quote you’ll need to choose a class of use. You should select the class of use according to how you use your van.

A white van parked up on a road

What are the different van insurance classes?

There are five different van insurance classes of use to choose from:

  • Social only
  • Social and commuting
  • Carriage of own goods
  • Haulage.

Social only means just that – leisure and domestic use. This is for your general runaround activities like shopping and dropping the kids off at school.

Social and commuting means you can also use the van for driving to and from your regular workplace. The important thing here is that it refers to a single, permanent place of work.

Anyone using a van for commercial or business purposes might need to choose between carriage of own goods, and haulage.

Carriage of own goods covers your tools and equipment needed to carry our your job. Haulage adds to that any cargo that you store that doesn’t belong to you eg parcels for customers.

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What type of van insurance do I need?

The class of use you choose influences how you drive your van and, ultimately, the risks associated with driving it.

We go into each class of use in detail below, looking into how each could impact your policy.

Social only

If you only use your van for social, domestic and pleasure purposes then a social only policy could be for you. This sort of van cover is often referred to as private van insurance.

General day-to-day use, like visiting family and friends and shopping sits within this class. Typical hobbies that people use their vans for include surfing, golf and camping. Vans are also great for getting away from it all – taking a road trip or simply going off on holiday.

However, choosing a social only van insurance policy means you’re not allowed to use your van for anything to do with business or work, including commuting.

Social use and commuting

Social use and commuting van insurance covers everything that comes under the social only category. But you should also be able to use your van to drive to and from your workplace.

It could be a good policy for you if you’re someone who takes their van on camping trips, and also uses it to commute. With this sort of policy, you still can’t use your van for anything to do with your business – the commuting part of the cover is defined as commuting to and from a regular place of work.

If your job takes you to multiple sites, this class of use likely isn’t for you. This is more designed for those who drive to and from the same office every day, or to the train station before heading to work.

With commuting comes increased time on the road, especially at peak hours of traffic. This makes it a bigger risk to an insurer, so you might see extra costs to your policy.

Carriage of own goods

If you use your van for carrying business related goods, tools or equipment, then you’ll need to choose business use (carriage of own goods).

This is the commercial van insurance policy to choose if you carry items that you own relating to your business. For example, this could be the right cover for someone in the building trade who uses a van to transport their own tools and equipment to work.

This could also apply if you’re a shopkeeper or sole trader like a florist. This class of use would also include driving to multiple places as part of your job, such as a shop, a client’s building, or a warehouse.

Even if the tools belong to your employer, you’d still likely need to choose this option.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the tools or goods themselves that you carry in your van will be covered as standard – for that, you might need additional tool cover. And you’re not supposed to use this type of van insurance policy if you’re going to be delivering goods belonging to other people in your van.

Given that you’re likely to be on the road a fair bit – and carrying potentially expensive equipment that thieves might target – this could be more expensive to insure.

Haulage

This type of commercial van insurance policy is typically suited to delivery drivers and couriers. It could provide cover when other people’s goods are being carried for payment and when multiple drop-offs tend to be needed. It’s a legal requirement for those providing courier services to have a basic level of courier insurance in place.

This should protect against damage to other people and their property when deliveries are being made. Courier van insurance policies usually don’t include goods in transit insurance as standard – this typically covers against loss, theft and damage to your cargo.

The added value of all those goods in your van makes for a potentially expensive claim should there be an incident. Combined with the fact that you’re likely to spend most of your time driving, haulage cover could be one of the more expensive options to have.

 

Optional extras for van insurance 

You can also choose from optional extras to give added protection:

Loss or damage to attached trailers

Provides cover for your trailers.

Legal cover

This could pay your legal costs if you ever have to go to court because of an accident that wasn’t your fault.

Breakdown cover

Adding breakdown cover will give you peace of mind and should make it quicker and easier to get back on the road if you do breakdown.

Goods in transit cover

This covers your cargo against loss, theft and damage. You need to ensure that the level of cover offered is high enough to meet the value of the goods you carry.

Tools in transit

This optional extra provides cover for any tools in your van against loss, theft or damage.

 

Is business use more expensive than social use only?

Carriage of goods for hire or reward and haulage insurance tends to cost more than social only van insurance. However, carriage of own goods business van insurance can work out cheaper than van insurance for social only use.

For example, our data* has shown that builders can pay considerably more if they select social use only compared to business use (carriage of own goods). They’ll also get fewer prices to choose from.

Insurers use complicated algorithms to give prices based on the information you enter when getting a quote. It’s unlikely that you’ll only use your van for social use if you’re a builder which could be one reason why the policies are pricier.

Some people assume that a social only policy is cheaper and may think that lying about the class of use won’t matter. The truth is that it could invalidate your insurance policy and end up costing you more.

*Confused.com quote data July 2019 – Feb 2020 – builders paid an extra 60% when they selected social only compared to business use and received 21% fewer quotes.

 

What happens if I lie about how I use my van on my insurance policy?

Giving your van insurer false information can easily backfire:

  • It could invalidate your cover, meaning if you had to make a claim as a result of an accident you won’t be insured. Things could get very pricey!
  • If the insurer discovers you’ve misled them, they have the right to cancel the policy or charge you the correct policy price.
  • If your insurer cancels your policy your meant to declare this on any future applications. This could increase the van insurance prices you’re quoted.

There are other ways to bring down the cost of your van insurance which are legitimate:

For the full list of tips, check out our guide on how to reduce the cost of your van insurance