What type of van insurance do I need?
It depends how you use your van. Get the insurance classification wrong and you might end up paying more than you need. Or, worse, risk invalidating your cover.
If you’re using your van for pleasure and domestic use, your policy is going to be different from regular business use. This is known as private van insurance or ‘social use only’.
Most van insurance comes under the commercial or business van insurance category because it relates directly to work. So, if you’re making regular deliveries to customers or carrying lots of tools, that’s likely the policy you’re after.
But if you’re using your van for multi-drop deliveries then you might want to consider courier van insurance.
Courier van cover could be more expensive because you’re making lots of deliveries, which could increase your risk of making a claim.
But for any policy you might need goods in transit cover as an add-on. Goods in transit cover means that if any of your goods are stolen, damaged or lost you’re covered to replace them.
Van insurance is pre-packaged in three levels: third-party, third-party, fire and theft, and comprehensive. Each gives you a different amount of protection.
Third-party only (TPO) means you’re covered for damage you cause to a third party when you’re out and about. It doesn’t cover any damage to your van, though.
Third-party, fire and theft (TPFT) bolts fire and theft risk on top of this, as you’d expect. This type of policy doesn’t cover damage to your van’s windscreen. And you still don’t have the advantage of cover for your van if an accident ends up being your fault.
Fully comprehensive is the highest level of cover you can get. Comprehensive cover means you’re covered against damage to another vehicle and your van as well. Theft and fire cover is also included here. A good fully comp policy might also include wrong fuel cover.
It’s worth looking at prices for comprehensive and third-party cover before you make any decisions based on price. Sometimes there’s little difference in cost between third-party and comprehensive cover.
How to get cheap van insurance for young drivers
We understand that as a young driver your insurance is likely to be higher than average. You might be tempted to bend the truth about how you use your van day-to-day, but you shouldn’t. Especially if it compromises your level of cover, just to save in the short term.
The details you give insurers about you, your van and how you use it should be accurate. If not, you risk your policy being void and could run into problems if you make a claim. For example you shouldn’t say you only use your van for private use if you use it for work as well.
The trick with getting cheaper van insurance is paying only for what you need.
If you’re using your van for construction work, you might have expensive tools in the back that you’d need to replace if they were stolen. If you run a dog grooming business, you might be making several drops at clients’ homes.
Making sure your policy works for your specific needs is the best way to ensure you’re not over or under-paying for your insurance.
But there are several small-but-important things you could do to get cheaper van insurance, especially if you’re a young driver:
- Choose a black box or telematics policy
- Add more security to your van
- Use a dashcam while you drive
- Buy a van that’s cheap to insure
- Be wary of van modifications
- Add named drivers
A black box or telematics policy collects data on your speed, braking, cornering, mileage and time of day you drive. If you prove to be a good driver the insurer may offer a cheaper price.
Add more security to your van by fitting extra locks like slamlocks. These add an extra layer of security and could be useful for multi-drop drivers. Professionally-fitted deadlocks, also, could be a good idea they’re more difficult to force open. They can be reinforced with extra plating so they can’t be drilled into. If it’s an older van then make sure you’ve got an engine immobiliser fitted. Any UK-registered van made after 1998 should have one fitted.
Advertise and shout your name about.If you’ve got highly visible sign-writing all over you’re going to stand out. It’s a good deterrent for thieves and makes it harder for the vehicle to be sold on.
Use a dashcam while you drive as some insurance providers could offer you a discount on your policy if you have one and you’re able to send accident footage to back up a claim.
Buy a van that’s cheap to insure if you haven’t bought one yet. Size does matter when it comes to van insurance. Generally the bigger the van, the bigger your premium. So, think hard about how much space and payload you really need. Could a smaller van do the job just as well?
Be wary of van modifications because the more mods you have the higher your premiums might be. Vans are particularly easy to modify as there are more seating and storage options.
Adding named drivers to your policy can sometimes reduce the policy cost - especially if those drivers are more experienced. But if you add a named driver they must be likely to use the vehicle and not added simply to reduce the cost. If you plan on doing the bulk of the driving yourself, you must be the main driver on the policy.
Need more ways to save? Read about how you can cut the cost of your van insurance.
Need more help?
Yes they can, but 17-year-old drivers are likely to see some of the highest van insurance costs. A lot of insurers impose tight age limits on cover. Some insurers might only cover van drivers if they’re aged 21 or over.
Other insurers might not want the added risk. Drivers aged 17-24 make up about 7% of UK licence holders and drive fewer miles than average – but they’re involved in 24% of fatal collisions.
Any driver under 21 might have more of a struggle to get van insurance at a competitive price than older drivers. But, yes, 20-year-old drivers can get cover. If you were successful in getting a policy at 17 or 18 perhaps then you’ve had a chance to build up your no-claims bonus, which could help keep costs down.
But bear in mind it isn’t all about age. Any insurer might also be looking closely at your profession, driving history and whether you have any criminal convictions.
You’ll need business van insurance if you’ll be using your van for anything to do with work, even if it’s just for commuting. Personal van insurance is only for leisure and pleasure – things like shopping and visiting the family. Learn more about the different van insurance classes of use.
The categories on your driving licence will detail which vans and vehicles you’re qualified to drive. If you plan on driving your van for business use, you’ll need company van insurance to protect you and other drivers.
To be eligible to drive most heavy goods vehicles you’ll have to take a separate test, but there are some that can be driven on a standard licence.
What our van insurance expert says
When working out their insurance prices, insurers use van insurance groups to categorise different vans. As a young driver, choosing to drive a smaller, less powerful, or expensive van in a lower insurance group could be a good way to find cheaper van insurance.
Head of van insurance