What is Bus Insurance?

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Bus Insurance UK

As a bus owner or driver, you aim to give your passengers the best possible experience during their journey with you. However, sometimes things can go wrong, and the cost of these incidents can be severe. This article will cover everything you need to know about Bus insurance and the financial protection it can offer, including the types of insurance available to you and some real world examples of how these might apply to you.

If you’d like to know what a policy might look like for you fill out a quote form and you’ll receive quotes from the UK’s leading specialist bus insurers.

Popular Types of Insurance for a Bus Owner

Any vehicle driving on UK roads requires Vehicle insurance. Public Liability will protect you from claims by the general public and is considered must-have by most bus owners. If you hire anybody, Employers’ Liability is a must, and if you're using your bus to generate income, you'll need Commercial Vehicle insurance

Bus insurance can be a complicated thing, and you may be wondering what you’ll need and what is optional. Most bus owners don’t operate without Public Liability and a Commercial Vehicle coverage, and if they hire any staff (such as drivers, whether full-time or part-time) then you’re legally required to have a valid Employers’ Liability policy.

Common Types of Bus Insurance & What They Cover
1.Public LiabilityIf a member of the general public (pedestrian, passenger etc.) incurs damages or injury due to your operation
2.Employers' LiabilityIf somebody you’ve employed (whether past or current) claims they’ve been injured or become unwell while working for you
3.Vehicle InsuranceSimilar to Car insurance, comes in 3 categories: Third Party Only (TPO), Third Party, Fire and Theft (TPFT) and Comprehensive. Protects your vehicle if an accident happens
3.5Breakdown CoverUsually bundled with Vehicle Insurance, can arrange for your vehicle to be collected from wherever it has broken down and arrange for a replacement
4.Tour Operators LiabilityIf you operate a tour, can cover the cost of compensation or refunds if something goes wrong (such as stormy weather making the tour unsafe to drive)
5.Personal InsurancesIncome protection if you or an employee is unable to work due to injury or illness
6.Fleet InsuranceUseful for larger businesses, can cover multiple vehicles under the same policy

There may be other types of business cover you want as well, such as legal expenses which can assist with contract disputes.

Next we have some real world examples to give you an idea of how these insurance coverages can work in real life, and why they’re so important.

Bus Insurance Examples

  • Public Liability: A passenger drops and breaks their mobile phone on your bus and claims your driving is at fault. They sue you for the cost of the repair.
  • Employers’ Liability: One of your drivers becomes unwell and claims that the food and drink you supplied staff is why. They can’t work for 2 weeks due to their illness, and sue you for the lost wages.
  • Vehicle Insurance: Your engine overheats and breaks down. Your Vehicle Insurance pays for a replacement engine.
  • Breakdown Cover: When your engine breaks down, your Breakdown Cover pays for someone to come and collect your bus, and arranges a replacement for you while it’s in the garage.
  • Tour Operators Liability: Stormy weather makes driving conditions too difficult and so you have to cancel your scheduled tours for the week. Your customer’s refunds are covered by Tour Operators Liability.
  • Personal Insurance: You’re involved in an accident and are out of work for 6 weeks. Your Personal Accident coverage covers your salary while you’re off work.

FAQs

Absolutely. Public Liability is considered must-have by most Bus owners and operators. It simply isn’t worth taking the risk of something going wrong when large vehicles, dangerous roads and the general public are involved.

Employers’ Liability is required by the government if you hire any staff (even if they’re only with you for a short time), so keep that in mind if you’re bringing anyone onboard.

You’ll also need (at minimum) a Third Party Only vehicle insurance policy to make sure you’re insured while you’re on the roads.

Finally, it’s definitely worth considering breakdown cover or more comprehensive vehicle insurance policies. Buses are expensive to replace and repair, and the impact on your business of them being out of action can be costly.

Buses are large vehicles that take up a massive portion of whatever road they’re on. The risks you’re exposed to while driving a smaller vehicle, like a car or a van, are amplified as a result of how large buses typically are.

You’ll also be carrying a large number of passengers, far more than most road vehicles, and so if something does go wrong then far more people are likely to be impacted, and the price of your insurance needs to reflect this.

Finally, bus drivers often navigate unfamiliar roads and drive long hours, increasing the chances of something going wrong.

Tried and tested methods of saving money on your car insurance are still applicable to buses. These might include things like:

  • Paying annually
  • Comparing providers
  • Fewer passengers
  • Smaller vehicle
  • Less coverage
  • Higher voluntary excess
  • Naming all drivers (as opposed to having an Any Driver plan)
  • No claims bonus

Insurers will also ask what your bus is (minibus, coach, etc.) and what you intend to use it for—more risky travel, such as in big cities, might make your insurance more expensive, so try and avoid these if you’re looking to keep your costs as low as possible.

Insurance companies may ask you for different information but it’s like to be a combination of the following:

  • Primary use (e.g. school bus, tours/exhibitions, social clubs, church)
  • Types of Cover (e.g. motor insurance, employers' liability, public liability, breakdown)
  • Vehicle value
  • Number of passengers
  • Drivers insured (e.g. you only, you + a named driver, any driver over 25)
  • Make and model
  • How many vehicles are you insuring?

If you’re driving for somebody else’s company as an employee then you should be covered under their policy. It can be good to know what you are and aren’t covered for, so be sure to check with management ahead of time.

If you’re a subcontractor or freelance driver, most companies will insist you have your own Public Liability coverage, even if you’re driving their vehicles. Many insurers won’t cover subcontractors as part of a policy, so if an accident happens you risk not having any protections. Most companies should ask for proof of this before you drive for them, so make sure you’ve got something sorted ahead of time.

Who can drive my buses?

When signing up for a policy, it should clearly define who is and isn’t insured to drive your bus. It is typically categorised as:

  • Insured Driver: The person who holds the policy
  • Insured and Named Driver: Declare specific named drivers who are also covered to drive your vehicle
  • Any Driver: Anybody over a certain age (typically 21, 25 and 30) can drive

Insured Driver covers only the person who has signed up for the policy. It’s best if you’re self-employed and not expecting anyone else to get behind the wheel of your vehicle.

Insured and Named will cover both the policy holder and anyone else they’ve specified to the insurer will be driving the vehicle. It allows the insurance provider to conduct background checks on drivers and so can reduce costs, however if you own multiple vehicles or employ multiple drivers it can be complicated to check who’s insured for what.

Any Driver is self-explanatory—it’ll cover anyone over a certain age to drive your vehicle. It’s great for medium-large businesses who’s drivers regularly swap between vehicles, or if you have a high staff turnover and want to save the administrative time of changing the named drivers for each vehicle you own.

Insurance for both individual buses and Fleet insurance are both divided into these categories, so it shouldn’t be any more complicated even if you’re insuring multiple vehicles (even though it will be more expensive, of course).

What types of Bus insurance are there?

Insuring a bus is a complicated business—you’ll need a form of Commercial Vehicle Insurance to cover your bus for transporting passengers in return for payment.

You’ll find your Bus insurance in the same three categories as your traditional vehicle insurance—Third Party Only (TPO), Third Party, Fire and Theft (TPFT) and Comprehensive. Here’s what they cover you for:

Types of Vehicle InsuranceTPO (most basic)TPFTComprehensive (most robust)
Repair if your vehicle is damaged in an accident
red x
red x
thumbs up
Repairs if your vehicle is damaged in a fire or stolen
red x
thumbs up
thumbs up
Compensation if other people are injured in an accident
thumbs up
thumbs up
thumbs up
Damage to other people’s property
thumbs up
thumbs up
thumbs up

These insurances will also apply to any Fleet insurance policy you’ve taken out, and generally cover all vehicles included to the same level.

Where can I get Bus insurance quotes?

Fill out a quote form here and we’ll happily connect you with some of the UK’s leading Bus insurance providers. It’ll give you the chance to ask any questions you’ve got before signing up, and work with a specialist advisor to build a policy that makes sense.

What to look for in a Bus insurance provider?

You may have found that many large insurance companies tend to stay away from Bus insurance. As such, a number of excellent specialist providers occupy the market and are better qualified to tailor a policy to your exact needs.

Specialist insurers have a number of benefits that larger insurers typically can’t offer—they’ll have market experts to help build your policy, and often offer dedicated agents so you’ve always got a point of contact you can refer back to if you’ve got any questions or need to make a claim.

Potential Policy Exclusions and Key Facts

  • Vintage Bus: You may need a slightly different policy if your vehicle meets certain criteria to associate for the additional expense of repairs/replacements.
  • EU/International Travel: If you take your bus outside of the UK, make sure to inform your insurer so they can make sure you’re covered wherever you go.
  • Deliberate Act: Your insurer won’t cover you if they feel any accident or issue was caused deliberately
  • Sub-contractors: Some insurers won’t allow sub-contractors to drive your vehicle, even on “any driver” policies, so they’ll need their own public liability before driving for you. It’s your responsibility to check this, as your company will be liable if anything goes wrong.

Things to Look Out For When Buying Bus Insurance

These are a few things it’s worth being aware of when you’re signing up for Bus insurance. These benefits can be especially useful to businesses that have passengers depending on them, like buses and coaches, where things going wrong impacts both the customers and your business.

Check with each provider what does and doesn’t come as standard—it’ll vary from insurer to insurer, so prioritise what you want and don’t want and create a policy that covers you well.

  • 24 hour support: Customer support if something goes wrong, 24/7
  • Accident Recovery: Help getting your vehicle somewhere secure if it breaks down
  • EU/International Cover: Coverage when driving in Europe (and further afield)
  • Replacement Vehicle: Your insurer will replace your vehicle with an equal or equivalent model if yours is in the garage
  • Windscreen Cover: Repairs for your windscreen if it’s chipped or cracked

Additional Information

Public Liability Insurance

Public Liability Insurance for Bus drivers and owners keeps you covered if a third party (pedestrian, passenger etc.) is injured or incurs property damage while you’re driving. While your policy will cover you up to a certain value (usually £1M, £2M, £5M or £10M), your Public Liability can cover anything from somebody damaging their luggage while you’re driving up to more serious road accidents.

It’ll cover any compensation a court awards and any legal costs you incur during your defense, and considering the average settlement in 2019 was £13,500, it’s not worth risking operating without.

Employers Liability Insurance

Employers' Liability Insurance has been compulsory in the UK since 1969 for any business that hires staff. Irrespective of whether they’re full-time, part-time, or even only working for you for a short period of time, you must hold a valid policy before they begin work.

You’re liable to be fined up to £2,500 per day that someone works for you while uninsured, so make sure you’re covered before they get started.

Employers’ Liability will cover any legal claims made by current or former employees who believe their work for you caused them to become ill or sustain injuries. It’ll cover any compensation the court awards, and any legal costs created during your defense.

Luke Masters

Prior to NimbleFins, Luke studied economics at Brunel University and worked at FreshMinds, Investigo and BMW. His work in data analytics, pricing, strategy and business development helped him write business insurance content to support SMEs at NimbleFins. He now works at DataPOWA, a sports & entertainment data analytics company. Read more on LinkedIn.

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.