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What’s the difference between private and business van insurance?

Choosing between private and business van insurance can be confusing. Especially if you use your van for lots of different activities and the lines between personal and work use become blurred. But having the wrong insurance can invalidate any policy you do have—leaving you with expensive repair and compensation costs.

Here, we explore the difference between private, and business van insurance so that you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you.

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What is private van insurance?

Private van insurance is suitable if you use your van purely for domestic reasons (also known as ‘social use only’). This includes activities like school runs or visiting friends and family.

When considering a van vs a car, keep in mind that van insurance is usually more expensive than car insurance.

What is business van insurance?

You’ll need business van insurance (also called commercial van insurance) if you use your van in relation to work. This covers driving to an office each day or using your van as part of your job—for example, if you’re a courier. The cost of business van insurance will be higher than private van insurance in most cases.

If you need commercial van insurance, you’ll be able to choose from one of three main categories:

Carriage of Own Goods

This covers items such as personal belongings and tools that belong to you. It’s suitable if you use your van to get to work and if you carry equipment that enables you to do your job—for instance, if you’re an electrician, plumber, or mobile hairdresser.

Carriage of Goods for Hire and Reward

If you carry passengers or transport items in exchange for money, you’ll need this specific type of cover by law. It’s the type of insurance you’ll need if you use your van as a taxi or if you’re a delivery driver making stops at lots of different locations.

Haulage

This is similar to Carriage of Goods for Hire and Reward but designed for drivers covering much longer distances. It’s typically used by haulage firms who make pre-planned pick-ups and drop-offs at set locations.

Why do you need to choose between private and business van insurance?

Your van insurance should cover you for the risks you face. Those risks are different depending on how you use your van.

For example, if you’re using your van for work, you’re likely to have a high mileage which puts you at greater risk of an accident and making a claim. Not only that, if you keep tools in your van, this could make it a target for theft. A business van insurance policy will reflect those risks and your premium will be priced accordingly.

If you don’t have the right policy for your needs, you risk invalidating whatever policy you do have. That means your insurer can refuse to pay out if you need to make a claim, leaving you to cover repair costs.

What type of van insurance do you need?

Essentially, you’ll need commercial van insurance if you use it in any activity that helps you earn an income—such as driving to work. Crucially, that also includes using it for hobbies that bring in extra cash, for instance, if you DJ or coach sports in your spare time.

If you only ever use your van for domestic and social reasons (like food shopping and day trips), then a private-use policy should be enough to cover your needs.

If you use your van for both work and personal use, let your insurer know. In these instances, your provider should be able to offer business van insurance plus social use.

Read more about business vs. private van insurance in our article here.

What other van insurance features are there?

Whether you choose private or business van insurance, most insurers will give you a choice of optional extras which can be added to your policy for a fee. For example:

  • Breakdown cover and emergency assistance
  • Courtesy van
  • Windscreen and glass cover
  • Legal expenses cover

You’re under no obligation to add on any extras but if you rely on your van on a daily basis, they’re well worth considering. Particularly legal expenses cover, which pays for professional advice if you need to go to court. Typically, it costs around £30 or £40 but could save you thousands in solicitor and court fees.

Does van insurance come with exclusions?

Exclusions are events not covered by your policy. Almost all types of insurance come with exclusions which are clearly set out within your policy documents. Exclusions vary by insurer but often include:

  • Negligence. You’re unlikely to be covered if your van or belongings are stolen because you left keys in the ignition or doors unlocked.
  • Wear and tear. Policies rarely cover parts that have stopped working because of age.
  • Overnight storage. Your policy probably won’t cover any tools you leave in your van overnight. If you have to store items in your van, let your insurer know so they can reflect this in your policy.

Search for van insurance that fits your needs

You can search for private or business van insurance right here, it takes just a few minutes and there’s only one form to fill in. With up to 60 quotes generated, we’re confident you’ll find the right van cover for your needs—giving you protection and peace of mind.

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