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Van Insurance – A Guide To Buying Online

GSI Insurance

As we move into 2021, more people than ever are buying their van insurance cover from online sources here in the UK. While this is much faster than phoning around a number of different insurers to find the best price, it is often easier to have someone with the right expertise on-hand to help you arrange the exact policy you need to meet your requirements.

We hope that this brief guide will help you understand van insurance a little better, so you can walk away with the right cover no matter where you buy your policy.

It is a legal requirement to have insurance while driving in the UK, and a vehicle must also have tax unless it has been declared off road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). It is also important that you have the right cover for your use, as buying the wrong type of insurance may also cause you to fall foul of the law.

If you have more than one vehicle for your business, you might want to consider fleet insurance instead.

Giving incorrect information when obtaining van insurance

Buying insurance online adds an element of risk, as it completely relies on you understanding the questions you are being asked, and answering them correctly so that they meet your requirements. One of the aims of this guide is to help you understand some of the more complex areas of van insurance, such as the cover you need, and what your vehicle would be used for. If you have any doubt as to whether the quotes you are seeing online are suitable, we highly recommend contacting the cheapest companies by phone so they can double-check you have entered everything correctly.

Mistakes can happen, but if an insurer has to cancel your policy because of incorrect information, this is something you have to disclose when buying insurance in the future, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

With rising costs, it can also be tempting to manipulate the details, such as disclosing a lower mileage, or not mentioning that the vehicle is used for work. While this may save you money in the short-term, it could completely invalidate your insurance policy, leaving you considerably more out of pocket than you started with. The police are also stopping more and more van users to ensure they have appropriate insurance in place. If they find that you are using the van for more than you told your insurers about, you may be in line for points on your licence too.

With more and more automated validation systems in place, it is easier to get found out, even if you made a genuine error. It isn’t worth taking the risk.

What cover levels are available for van insurance?

As with car insurance, van insurance has three available levels of cover, all of which command a different premium. The options available are as follows:

  • Third party only: this is the minimum legal requirement to be able to drive. It covers the cost of any damage you cause to another person, their vehicle, or their property as a result of your driving, but it won’t pay out for any damage to your own vehicle under any circumstances
  • Third party, fire, and theft: this includes everything covered in a third party policy, as well as fire damage to your vehicle, and cost towards replacement if your vehicle is stolen
  • Comprehensive: this covers everything in third party, fire, and theft, as well as any damage to your own vehicle, whether the incident is your fault or someone else’s.

Keep in mind that a higher level of cover does not necessarily mean a higher premium. For example less companies are offering third party only cover these days, so this may restrict your options. Also some of the money saving tips we suggest later in this guide can have the most impact on comprehensive policies. It is worth considering them all.

What types of van insurance can I get?

The type of use that you need to disclose depends on how you use your van. For example:

  • Social, domestic and pleasure: for if your van will not be used for any business purpose whatsoever. This might be because of your hobby, such as motocross or fishing, where you may need the extra storage space.
  • Social, domestic, pleasure and commuting: for if your van will not be used for any business purpose other than driving to one single place of work.
  • Own goods: carriage of own goods covers you for driving your van for business reasons while carrying goods. This can include tools of your trade, items that you own and will be delivering to customers, or stock that you buy from a cash and carry or wholesaler.
  • Hire and reward: hire and reward van insurance is a requirement by law if you use your van to carry goods, or people, that don’t belong to you, in return for a payment. This kind of policy is generally suited for single jobs, such as furniture removal, rather than frequent deliveries
  • Courier and haulage: courier and haulage insurance policies cover you for transporting one or more items over long distances, sometimes called multi-drop. A good example would be the company branded delivery vans you might see around on a regular basis.

Goods in Transit Insurance

Just because you have arranged a commercial van insurance policy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the goods you’re transporting will be covered as well. Generally, the policy will cover for damage to your van if you’re involved in an accident, or if it is stolen, but won’t for the items inside if they are damaged or lost. This is something worth discussing with your insurer, as you may need to arrange a separate goods in transit insurance policy.

Goods in Transit Insurance covers goods and tools against theft, loss or damage while in your vehicle, or when sent by a third party carrier. The sum insured can be set based on the maximum value of items you will have in the vehicle at any one time.

What optional extras are available with van insurance?

  • Tools in transit: similar to goods in transit insurance, it covers the cost of tools you keep in your van if they’re lost, damaged or stolen
  • No claim discount protection: preventing your no claims discount from being affected in the event of an accident, often allowing for two claims within a three year period
  • Breakdown cover: on occasion this is included as standard, but is almost always an optional extra. You will be covered for the cost of roadside assistance if your van breaks down, and may take you to the garage of your choice depending on which level of cover you choose.
  • Courtesy van: you’ll be given a temporary replacement vehicle while yours is in for repairs
  • Guaranteed hire van: for occasions when you wouldn’t normally get a courtesy van, such as in the event of a fire, a theft, or your van being written off
  • Legal protection: to assist you with any legal costs if you are involved in a non-fault accident
  • Misfuelling: covering the repair cost if you put the wrong fuel in your vehicle, either on the forecourt, or after you’ve driven away.
  • Personal belongings: limited cover may be provided for belongings kept in the van if it is stolen, lost, or damaged. This will normally not include items in connection with your business, so you may want to think about tools or goods in transit in addition.
  • Windscreen cover: often included as standard with comprehensive insurance, covering any damaged sustained to glass on the vehicle
  • Replacement locks: for covering the cost of replacing the locks and ignition system on your van if you lose your keys
  • Entertainment equipment: often policies will provide limited cover for entertainment systems, but generally they are limited and may not cover up to the full amount if you have an aftermarket system. Sat navs can also fall under this cover, but it is not guaranteed.
  • Continental use: cover for using your van in other countries if you do some or all of your business in Europe.

What can affect the cost of van insurance?

There are a number of factors that will change the cost of your van insurance, and some of them can help reduce the amount you pay. It is important to remember however that you should be honest about your requirements, and not change your details to try and get your price down:

  • Voluntary excess: the excess is the amount you have to pay towards a claim before your insurer picks up the bill for the rest. This is usually payable in the event of a claim. The excess will have a compulsory part, but you will usually have the option of voluntarily paying more. The more you offer to pay, the lower your premium is likely to pay. Please remember to make sure that you can afford to pay the excess though, as the repairer will ask for it before they start any work.
  • Size of van: part of the premium is generally based around the gross vehicle weight of the van. Using a van that is the right size for your needs might help make a saving.
  • Additional drivers: you can add other people onto your van insurance policy, but they may impact the premium if their driving risk is higher than yours
  • Claims history: a big aspect of insurance premiums is your potential risk as a driver. If you have accidents that are your fault on record, the costs are likely to be higher.
  • Annual mileage: you’ll need to tell your insurer how much you expect to drive your van and what you use it for. Vehicles that are on the road more have more chance of being in an accident
  • Garaging: where you store your van overnight will also influence the cost of your van insurance. For example, keeping your van in a garage is likely to be safer than on the street, so this can reduce your cost. Remember that if you declare the vehicle is in a garage but the property where you live doesn’t have one, your claim may not be paid.
  • Security upgrades: adding extra security to your van, such as an alarm, immobiliser or tracker, can lower your premiums as it reduces the risk of your vehicle, or items kept inside, from being stolen

No matter what your van insurance requirements are, we have a number of schemes available to help, and are very keen to help you out. Feel free to give us a call on 0800 612 9376 or fill in our online quote form.

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