Van insurance: how to get the best deal

Citroen Berlingo all doors open
9 May, 2014 9:10am Steve Walker

The best van insurance policy isn’t always the cheapest. Here’s how to get the best deal.

Like car insurance, van insurance can be expensive and there’s a strong temptation to simply choose the cheapest deal you can lay your hands on.

That’s not necessarily the best course of action though. You might save on the monthly premiums but if your van insurance policy isn’t up to scratch, it could cost you and your business further down the line.

There’s more to consider when choosing van insurance than the upfront price and our handy guide will set you on the road to a great value deal that works for your business.

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Nissan NV200 Fridge van

Decide what kind of van insurance you need

Third party van insurance

This is the legal minimum level of insurance needed to drive on UK roads. It’ll cover you for any damage you do to other vehicles but you’ll be liable for any repairs to your van. It’s usually (but not always) the cheapest option.   

Third party, fire and theft van insurance

As the name suggests, this adds cover for theft and fire to your basic third party van insurance policy. Once again though it won’t cover you for accident damage sustained by your vehicle.

Comprehensive van insurance 

Fully comprehensive van insurance is the route taken by most van operators. The price differential between this and third party cover often isn’t as great as you might think and you get much greater piece of mind.

If you depend on your van for work, fully-comp cover makes sense but be warned, not all fully comprehensive van insurance policies are the same…

Peugeot Boxer left side

Know what’s covered by your van insurance policy 

As ever when we’re talking insurance, the devil is in the detail. One fully comprehensive van insurance policy may not be quite like another and for van owners who rely on their vehicles to make a living, knowing exactly what’s included in your cover can be crucial.

Van insurance policy excess

There will be a compulsory excess on your policy which is the amount you’ll need to pay towards the cost of any claim. A higher excess usually means lower monthly premiums and you can lower them further by adding voluntary excess on top. It’s a gamble because any savings on the premiums could be wiped out if you have to claim.

Breakdown and recovery cover

Some insurance policies will include a level of breakdown cover. This can be anything from basic roadside assistance to recovery of the broken-down vehicle.

If having your van off the road puts your whole business on hold this can be an invaluable addition to your policy. Particularly bearing in mind the potential expense of recovering larger vans from the roadside. 

Replacement van

A replacement van can keep your business moving in the event of serious damage to your vehicle. Some insurance policies include a replacement van in the policy, some offer to supply one within 24-hours.  

Goods in transit cover 

A fully comprehensive insurance policy may not cover you for the contents of your van. Make sure the cover includes ‘goods in transit’ if you regularly carry valuable items that need to be protected in the event of damage or theft. Check what value the goods in transit cover is up to and whether this is sufficient for the kind of cargo you carry.

Sign writing and internal modifications 

Many vans are specially modified by businesses to suit their particular needs but those modifications may not be covered by an insurance policy. If you have signwriting on your vehicle or aftermarket modifications inside such as specialist lining or storage racking, make sure that these are covered by your policy.    

Claims management 

Time is money for van operators so the last thing you need is the time lost through an accident or theft from your van compounded by more time wasted sorting out the insurance claim. Many van insurers will run a 24-hour helpline and offer a complete claims management service, but some won’t.

Ford Transit on the road

How to get the best van insurance deal 

With so much to consider, finding the best van insurance deal at the right price can be tricky but it’s worth putting the time in to get the level of cover you need.

Shop around 

The process of getting quotes for your van insurance has been made much simpler in recent years by the growth of price comparison websites. Compare the deals that different insurers offer carefully bearing in mind the points above. Don’t get too fixated on finding the lowest price. 

Tell the truth 

Being economical with the truth on your insurance forms is never a good idea and any untruths could well come back to bite you in the future. Be as accurate as you can with details such as where you park the vehicle overnight and the annual mileage you cover.

Hunt for discounts 

Insurers offer various discounts on insurance premiums. The obvious one is the no-claims discount, which can significantly reduce the cost of your insurance if you’ve gone some time without making a claim. Some insurers will apply the no-claims discount you’ve accrued on your car to your van.

Van operators can also benefit from a multi-vehicle discount if they insure a number of vehicles with the same insurance company.   

Tell us about your van insurance successes and nightmares in the comments section below...