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Is van insurance the same as car insurance?

There are plenty of similarities between car and van insurance, but they aren’t the same. Whether you drive a car or a van, you’ll need a policy that reflects the type of vehicle you drive, otherwise you could face severe penalties. Here, we take a look at what the key differences are and why it’s so important to have cover that suits your needs.

What’s the difference between van insurance and car insurance?

Cars and vans are typically used for different reasons. As a result, policies will cover slightly different risks specific to each vehicle.

For example, cars are usually driven for personal and domestic reasons, such as doing the school run or driving to the shops. Vans on the other hand, are mainly driven for work and business which means they typically cover more miles and transport goods. As the uses are different, so too are the policies.

These different classes of use are reflected in the specific types of policies available for cars and vans. When you buy car cover, you’ll be able to choose a policy that covers social, domestic and pleasure (SDP) driving. You’ll also be able to add commuting to this if you drive to a single place of work (SDP+C). For cars, both these types of policy come under the umbrella of ‘private’ vehicle insurance.

However, van insurance doesn’t usually come with an SDP+C option. Instead, you’ll have to choose between private and business van insurance (read more about the differences here):

  • Private van insurance – this only covers you to drive for social, domestic and pleasure reasons.
  • Business van insurance – this can include social and domestic use but will also cover you to drive to work.

Crucially, you must have business van insurance if you use your van in relation to anything that earns you money. So, if you drive to work in your van (even if it’s to the same office every day), you’ll need business van insurance.

What does van insurance cover?

Here’s where car insurance and van insurance do share some features. Policies for both vehicles are available in one of three levels of cover:

  • Third Party Only (TPO) – these policies are the minimum you can have by law. They compensate other people and drivers for injury or damage you cause.
  • Third Party, Fire and Theft (TPFT) – this includes TPO cover and will also compensate you if your van is stolen or damaged by fire.
  • Comprehensive – this includes TPFT, and insurers will also pay out to repair ore place your van if it’s damaged in an accident (even if the accident is your fault). This is the highest level of cover available.

As well as your level of cover, business van insurance also comes with added features that specifically insure you for the way you use your van, for instance:

  • Carriage of Own Goods – this will cover items that belong to you, for example tools and equipment.
  • Carriage of Goods for Hire and Reward – this is a legal requirement and covers you if you transport people or items that do not belong to you. For example, if you’re a courier or taxi driver.
  • Haulage – aimed at drivers and businesses who transport goods over a long distance.

Does business van insurance cover the goods I transport?

No, business van insurance doesn’t automatically cover any items you transport, policies only cover you to drive while carrying out those activities.

If you want to insure the actual goods you transport (which is highly recommended if you’re a courier), then you’ll need to add on Goods in Transit (GiT) insurance.

When does a car become a van?

Your vehicle logbook (V5C) should make it clear what the vehicle type is. Generally speaking, a vehicle is classed as a van if it has one of the following features:

  • No windows to the rear side panels.
  • A flatbed (either with or without a roof) to carry goods.
  • A double cab to separate the driver and front passenger from the rear.

How much does van insurance cost?

Like car insurance, your van insurance premium will depend on you and your circumstances and insurers will consider a range of factors, including:

  • Your age – youngers drivers can expect to pay more than the average. This is because under 25s are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident.
  • The type of van you drive – expensive vans or vans with powerful engines tend to cost more to insure as they’re usually more expensive to repair or replace. They can also be a target for thieves.
  • How you use your van – business policies typically cost more than private van insurance. This is because vans used for work generally cover more miles, make frequent stops and carry goods. This increases the risk of an accident and theft.
  • The features you choose – adding on extra features (such as Carriage of Own Goods) can increase what you pay overall. You might also decide to add on optional extras such as glass and windscreen cover, roadside recovery or European cover – all of which will increase your premium.
  • Security – the greater the risk of theft or vandalism, the more you can expect to pay. You can help keep premiums as low as possible by keeping your van parked in a locked garage overnight, or installing a security device.

How can I lower the cost of my van insurance?

The policy you choose must reflect the way you use your van and cover the risks you face. If you don’t have appropriate insurance, you can be fined and be given six penalty points. If your case is taken to court, you could even be disqualified from driving.

That said, there are ways to lower your premium without skipping on essential cover, for example, quick wins include:

  • Paying for your policy in one go – this avoids interest and admin fees.
  • Choosing a telematics policy – a small telematics device monitors your driving and based on the data it records, could help lower insurance costs.
  • Increasing your voluntary excess – but make sure the amount is still affordable. You’ll need to pay it to proceed with a claim.

Another simple and easy way to lower van insurance premiums, is to compare a range of policies from different insurers. The good news is that you can do that right here. Simply fill in one form and our friends at QuoteZone will show you up to 60 quotes, helping you get the best value for money. You can also read more about how popular van insurance companies are rated here.

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