If you own a van in the UK, and you want to insure it just for personal use, that isn't really a problem; you can cover it for social domestic and pleasure purposes, or add commuting cover as well (which allows for travel to and from a single place of employment). it's important, though, to be very careful about the differences between private and commercial use.
How do private and business policies differ?
Private van insurance is designed for vehicles that are used for personal or domestic motoring, such as travelling on holidays, shopping, and other purely domestic use. You can often use the vehicle for purposes such as moving house or transporting furniture, provided that these are goods that belong to yourself or a close family member; but if there is any hint of business use (and you know how suspicious insurers and police officers can be!) you could find yourself crossing that fine red line between private and trade usage.
On the other hand, commercial van insurance is designed for business purposes, such as making deliveries or transporting goods; and even with this care is necessary when picking a policy, because there is a world of difference between carrying your own goods (for example a builder taking tools and equipment to a job) and someone making deliveries of goods belonging to other people in exchange for payment, in which case a class named 'carriage of goods for hire and reward' is mandatory.
Is it more expensive to insure a van for private use, than a car?
It can be; some insurers do charge higher premiums (which is why it is often a good idea to compare quotations!). This is because vans might be more:
- likely to be involved in accidents owing to their size and weight.
- prone to be stolen than cars.
- expensive to secure and protect against theft.
- difficult to maneuvre than cars, because of more blind spots.
- difficult to park than cars, increasing the risk of accidents.
- at risk of rollover accidents owing to their higher centre of gravity.
- at risk of break-in, owing to the valuable equipment or tools that many vans carry (yours may not, but the opportunist thief won't know that).
What does private van insurance cost?
According to the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA), the average cost of private van insurance in the UK is around £1,000 per year; although this can vary enormously (just like any other type of vehicle insurance really). In the meanwhile commercial van insurance can cost double that, because of increased risks associated with business use, such as higher mileage, more frequent use, and increased exposure to theft and accidents.
Is buying this insurance straightforward?
If you are insuring a small light van such as a Ford Transit Courier you should have no serious problems, but if you have opted for a larger van insurers may want to know why; after all these vehicles are designed more for carrying goods than providing comfortable family transport. You may of course want to use it for some kind of community use, such as for camping trips or transporting sports equipment, but if that is the case (or if you have any concerns about the cover whatsoever) here is a very important suggestion: before buying a policy, contact the insurer, tell them exactly what you propose to do with the vehicle, and get them to write to you to confirm that that type of usage complies with their terms and conditions.
They are usually easy to contact (if you compare quotes via the above link their correspondence details are provided in an easy to read format) and the customer service staff are usually very helpful and friendly; after all they want your business!
So, to sum up: van owners in the UK can certainly insure their vehicles for private use, but it's important to choose the right type of policy and accurately describe how the van will be used. If you use it for any kind of commercial purposes you could find yourself uninsured, and (a) paying out on a huge claim yourself; (b) facing a fine, points on your licence and impoundment of your van for driving without insurance or (c) both of them.
How do I buy a policy?
Easy. Click the link above and fill in a short form, specifying the type of use you will put the vehicle to, and quotes from up to 60+ specialist van insurers will be displayed online. Do it now.