Van insurance is, very basically, similar to any other vehicle insurance but with extra options and add-ins that can be added to a policy in order to protect the goods being transported and/ or that can add extra coverage in the event of accident, theft or other unexpected damage or loss. These extras can make all the difference to a small trader or freelancers, helping the business to continue trading and helping to meet unplanned expenses.
Even if your van is rarely driven, it will still need to be insured unless it has been declared SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notice), in which case it does not have to be insured, but this also means that it must be physically 'off road' – in a garage or behind a fence: it cannot be parked on the side of the road!
There are several different types of van insurance and choosing the right one for your needs is vital.
Levels of Cover
Comprehensive van insurance, also known as fully comprehensive or fully comp, often includes features like windscreen cover and the provision of a courtesy vehicle when needed. This is one of the most expensive types of van insurance, but it is a worthwhile investment if you cannot work without a vehicle. It is better to pay out a small sum every month, rather than risk losing your customers by letting them down. The policy document will contain a list of everything covered, and will sometimes have an exclusion list detailing those things that are not covered, and any reasons why a claim may be denied. This can include things like having a secure garage for the vehicle to be kept in overnight, so do be sure to read the document carefully and discuss any conditions that might be a problem for you to adhere to.
Third party, fire and theft is a mid-range policy that will cover you in the event that your van is damaged or destroyed by fire, targeted by thieves or if you run into another vehicle or person. However, this is a fairly basic policy, and will most likely not cover the contents of the van – a major consideration if you will be carrying tools for your work, or delivering packages (see courier insurance below). If you will only be using your van for transport to and from work, this insurance may suit you.
Third party only is the most basic insurance. It will protect you from paying out in the event of your causing injury or damage to another vehicle and the people inside it, but will not help you to repair your own vehicle or cover your own hospital bills. Third party insurance is the minimum legal requirement for all vehicles.
Specialist Van Insurance
Commercial van insurance is a specialised area of vehicle cover and it is always best to be honest with your insurance provider. While you may have to pay a little more for commercial (as opposed to private) van insurance, you will soon find that the benefits of a properly covered commercial vehicle outweigh the extra cost. Commercial van cover is advised if your vehicle is essential for your work: carrying the tools and equipment you need for the job, carrying packages and parcels for delivery, and even getting your from home to various work locations, depending on the work you do.
Courier van insurance is a niche of commercial van insurance and is probably the most expensive type of van insurance that there is. This is because courier insurance not only covers you for everything covered by comprehensive vehicle insurance, but it also covers the packages and parcels and even important papers that you might be hired to transport from one place to another. Consider for a moment, being left without insurance when you are transporting company cheques and payments, a handful of high-end electronic devices (especially small, but expensive products like top-of-the-range smart phones) and documents like birth certificates and passports. Not being covered for the loss of these items can very quickly leave you not only out of pocket but completely bankrupted!
Aviva, AXA, Direct Line for Business, More Than and Hastings Direct are all insurance companies that offer van insurance at competitive rates, amongst many other insurance companies.
What to Look for
- List your needs and make sure that your insurance provider understands what you are looking for. There is nothing more disheartening than having a claim turned down after months of payments because of a misunderstanding
- Read the policy document carefully. All that legalese can be tiring, but it is worth knowing exactly what you are getting yourself into.
- Shop around. And this does not mean using only one comparison site! Use two or three such sites, and also try some of the companies who eschew the use of comparison sites as sometimes they can offer great rates.
Top Van Insurance Brokers UK
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