Commercial van insurance

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    Chris Godfrey

    Page written by Chris Godfrey. Last reviewed on November 10, 2023. Next review due April 6, 2024.

    Builders, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers – there are many types of business in the UK, but they tend to have one thing in common: They own a commercial van. It’s the vehicle that gets them to work, carries their tools, and takes their goods and materials from A to B. Keeping this vital business asset working is essential, which is why businesses should protect it with commercial van insurance. But how does this cover work, what does it cost, and do you really need it? Read on to discover more about insuring your important business vehicles. 

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      What is van insurance?

      Commercial van insurance is a type of business insurance that can cover your work vans and any personal contents you are carrying, such as your professional tools, from accident, fire or theft. Van insurance can also cover any goods or materials that you are transporting and protect you when you’re travelling to multiple places on business as well as your daily commute. 

      For an extra charge, most insurers will offer other insurance options, such as courtesy van hire and breakdown service and recovery. This can minimise the impact on your business if your van is off the road due to an accident.

      Do I need commercial van insurance?

      Yes, you do. Firstly, it is a criminal offence to drive a vehicle on UK roads without proper insurance in place. Secondly, even if you only use your van to commute to work, or rarely use it for business use, you still need commercial van insurance. 

      Business van insurance will cover light commercial vehicles (LCV) weighing up to a maximum of 3.5 tonnes. (This is the weight of the van, plus fuel, passengers and load). If your vehicle is heavier than that it is classed as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and you will need HGV or Truck Insurance, plus an HGV driving licence to operate it.

      If you only use your van for social purposes – no commuting or carrying goods and materials for reward – you may only need private ‘social only’ van insurance. These types of policy can be cheaper than commercial cover, but they will not protect you if you suddenly choose to use your van for business purposes. 

      What types of business van insurance are available?

      Business van insurance comes in three different flavours:

      Carriage of own goods

      This is the basic level of commercial van insurance. You need this type of policy if you only use your van for commuting, or for carrying tools and materials related to your work or business – such as your tools and ladders if you’re a painter or carrying bags of animal feed if you’re a farmer.

      Carriage of goods for hire or reward

      This type of insurance covers your van to transport goods for payment – essential if you run a courier business and carry goods for clients. This is the common policy for businesses and self-employed workers who transport goods to multiple destinations, such as fast-food delivery, or a same-day flower service.

      Haulage

      If you use your van to drive longer distances, usually to make one delivery, then you need haulage insurance. Depending on the type of goods you transport and your business terms and conditions, some insurers may blend this type of cover into their ‘carriage of goods for hire and reward’ policies. When buying cover, you should explain the way your business operates to ensure you receive the right sort of cover for your work. 

      What does van insurance cover?

      Coverage will depend on the type of policy that you buy, plus any options you have bought at extra cost. Van insurance can cover you for:

      • Loss or damage to your van caused by theft, fire, or vandalism.
      • Windscreen replacement.
      • Accidental damage to your vehicle caused by a motoring incident.
      • Accidental damage to the vehicles and personal property of third parties, plus any injuries they may suffer when caused by a motoring incident.
      • Part or all of the legal expenses if you make a claim or someone makes a claim against you.
      • Personal accident if you are injured at work and cannot make a claim against a third party. (This situation could occur if you cannot identify the other person, or if the accident was your fault).
      • Medical costs for injuries suffered by yourself, your passengers and/or any third parties caused by a motoring incident.
      • Other optional cover, such as legal protection, van breakdown and recovery, and courtesy van hire.

      What level of business van insurance should I choose?

      As well as making sure you buy the right type of cover, you must ensure you purchase the level of protection that best suits your business:

      Third-party only policies (TPO)

      • This is the minimum level of cover required by law.
      • It’ll cover you for any damage your van causes to another vehicle, person or property, but your own vehicle won’t be covered if it needs to be repaired or replaced. 
      • It won’t cover your van from theft, vandalism, or if it is damaged or destroyed in a fire. 
      • Although TPO is the cheapest form of commercial van insurance, you should ask yourself two questions before buying it: Could you afford the repairs if your van was involved in a serious accident? Could you pay for a new van if your current vehicle was a total write-off, destroyed by fire, or stolen and never returned?

      Third-party fire and theft insurance (TPFT)

      • TPFT covers damage caused by your van to other vehicles, people or property, but now your vehicle is also covered for damage or loss as a result of vandalism, fire, or theft.
      • You are also covered for the theft of any personal possessions, such as tools, left in your van, although commercial goods and materials are usually excluded.

      Comprehensive

      • Comprehensive van insurance covers all the things TPFT does, but it also includes repair or replacement of your vehicle in the event of accident, fire, theft, or vandalism, whether you were at fault or not
      • Comprehensive insurance is the most extensive cover you can get, but there still might be optional extras you can purchase. 

      How much does commercial van insurance cost?

      Commercial van insurance can start from as little as £300 per year, but the premium you pay will depend on the type of cover you need, what type of van you drive, how your van is used, your annual mileage, where you are located, your driving history and any optional extras you choose to buy.

      How Swoop can help

      For many SMEs and the self-employed, their commercial vehicle is the heart of their business. If it were lost, stolen, or off the road awaiting repairs, the impact on their income could be catastrophic. Don’t let an accident or mishap put your business in jeopardy. Contact Swoop today to compare the best van insurance policies and to discuss all your business insurance needs.

      Written by

      Chris Godfrey

      Chris is a freelance copywriter and content creator. He has been active in the marketing, advertising, and publishing industries for more than twenty-five years. Writing for Barclays Bank, Metro Bank, Wells Fargo, ABN Amro, Quidco, Legal and General, Inshur Zego, AIG, Met Life, State Farm, Direct Line, insurers and pension funds, his words have appeared online and in print to inform, entertain and explain the complex world of consumer and business finance and insurance.

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