Whilst you can get standard private/domestic insurance for your van, if it's being used in connection with a business, it's important that you have appropriate cover for commercial use of the vehicle. This will ultimately cost you more, but without it your claim will likely be rejected.
What you need to know
Van insurance is very much the same as standard car insurance. Like cars, vans fall into certain categories for insurers, and your cost will be dependant on size, weight, power, value etc. You'll be assessed and quoted based on standardised questions about vehicle type, age, mileage, usage/ purpose, along with more van specific related information, such as whether the vehicle will be carrying hazardous waste, or whether it has signage, or carries a 'how's my driving' hotline sticker (some insurers give discounts for the last two).
Levels of Cover
During application you'll be invited to select from the typical 'third party', 'third party, fire & theft', or 'fully comprehensive' level of cover, but it's particularly relevant to pay attention to the inclusions and add-ons depending on the usage of your van.
- Third party is the legal minimum requirement available, and covers you against any costs in the event of damaging someone else, or their property.
- Third Party, Fire & Theft covers the aforementioned, plus additional insurance should your vehicle be stolen, or purposely damaged.
- Fully Comprehensive offers all of that, plus accidental damage to your van, and many other inclusions and incentives depending on provider. Naturally this is the most expensive option
If you've recently started driving a van, and have an existing no claims bonus on your car policy, look out for providers who offer the function to transfer this to a van insurance policy. The same also applies if your situation is reversed and are changing vehicle from van to car – or bike. This will help force down the price on your monthly premium considerably. If you have your eye on a particular policy, and the provider doesn't offer no-claims switching, it's worth contacting them by phone and mentioning how many years you have as they may take that into consideration when providing a quote.
If the van is part of a multi-vehicle fleet for your business you should look for a multi-vehicle policy where you can expect to save anything up to 15%, depending on the broker. Read more on this on our multi car insurance article.
Classes of Business Van Insurance
Different classes of business insurance exist, but the boundaries vary between providers, so always check the small print. Generally, business van insurance falls into the following classifications:
- Business Use – Class 1: covers you in connection with your job, such as visiting different sites away from your workplace. This type of class will not cover commercial use, such as delivery of goods, nor does it cover if the vehicles is used for 'sales' – both of these uses fall under separate classes. Alongside covering for business use, you can also expect to be covered for standard domestic and social use.
- Business Use – Class 2: Provides the same cover as that mentioned above, but will also allow you to add a named driver to use the same vehicle, although some providers stipulate that they must both have the same occupation, so check the details on any policy your considering.
- Business Use – Class 3: will cover you for usage during deliveries (haulage) and other light commercial activities such as door-to-door sales
- Goods/Tool Cover may be an important consideration for you if your van is used to store or transport your work kit. Most policies won't include this as standard so you'll need to look to add it on. It's generally broken down into two separate add-ons:
- Tool insurance: will cover you if you need to leave your tools in the vehicle overnight. This can insure you for thousands of pounds worth of equipment, meaning you won't be out of pocket in the event of a burglary. It won't cover loss of earnings, but you may find this covered in another form of business class insurance inclusion.
- Goods in transit: Is essential if you're a courier or haulier, and need to cover the cost of goods should they become damaged or stolen. Some insurers insist that the goods need to be removed overnight, so it's worth checking the small print.
- Breakdown Cover: is another important consideration if your van is being used as part of your business. Some policies include this as part of fully comprehensive package, some don't. Either way you can usually add breakdown cover as an optional add-on if you require it
- Replacement Vehicle: after an incident is another inclusion which will vary by provider and policy. Again you can generally purchase as an add-on should it not be included in any particular policy.