Do I need specific van insurance or is general cover OK?

When you go out to get insurance cover for your business van, you’ll find a lot of different policies. One of the main factors is what type of van you’re insuring. We explore some of the key considerations in van insurance.

You may have a box Luton, a pickup, a tipper, or a double or single cab model. So do you just need light commercial van insurance?

If you’re not sure whether your vehicle needs to be insured as a car or a van, check your V5C vehicle log book. Some vans can be insured in the same way as cars; others must have specific van insurance. A quick peek at the vehicle log book will confirm which you need. An M1 vehicle can be insured with car insurance but an N1 or N2 vehicle must have specific van insurance.

Levels of van insurance

There are three levels of cover when it comes to insurance for your van:

Fully comprehensive – this means that you, any passengers in the van and any goods in transit that you are carrying in the van, are covered. This type of policy usually covers you if you are hit by an uninsured driver. Your van is also protected if it’s hit by theft or vandalism.

Third party, fire and theft – this means that if you cause damage to someone else’s car or property (for example parking crunches) your insurance company will pay up. You’re also covered for fire or theft. But it doesn’t pay out for damage to your vehicle.

Third party only : This is the lowest level of cover for van drivers. It just covers your liability to other people when you’re driving.

Extra cover

There are lots of extras you can add to your policy, for example, insurance providers will often add breakdown cover. Sometimes this is included in the package but it often comes as an extra charge on your premium. Make sure you select an insurance provider who is authorised and regulated, so that you enjoy the protections provided by the regulator. And check their cookie policy and privacy statement when you are on their site, to make sure your details aren’t being passed on to third parties without your specific agreement.

If you’re going abroad in your van, you might want to look at insurers which include European driving in the cover, or which can add this for a reasonable extra sum. And if your van is absolutely vital to your business, look for a policy that will provide a replacement van if yours is out of action. You may be a great driver but you can get hit by someone who isn’t – the effect on your business will be the same.

Legal cover and protected no claims

If you have an accident that wasn’t your fault, legal cover will ensure that you get help with any legal costs that result. This cover often includes a 24 hour helpline for legal problems.

Protected no claims is a way of protecting your good record as a driver. If you don’t need to claim on your policy because you don’t have an accident, the insurance company will reward you with a reduced premium in the form of a “no claims bonus”. It’s possible to insure that good record by having “protected” no claims bonus. That means that if you drive perfectly for a number of years, then have an accident, you don’t lose your no claims bonus because of one unfortunate event.

Remember to be honest and upfront about your driving history. Insurers check your details and share information and databases. You’re very likely to be caught out if you leave something out, so a straightforward approach is always best.