Driving a van in the UK without insurance is illegal - and leaves you financially liable for any damage caused to people and property. Choosing the right insurance will protect you financially should you find yourself in this position.
Specialist van insurers tailor their cover to meet your exact requirements, so whether your van is used for domestic or business purposes, or both, there will be policy types and add-ons to suit.
Types of cover
On all their quotes, van insurance UK providers will distinguish between private, business and sole trader van use. You will need to declare your intended usage as one of these types, and abide by it - otherwise your insurance may be invalidated and make driving your van illegal.
Across each of these categories UK van insurance companies offer different bands of cover, namely 3rd Party, 3rd Party Fire and Theft, and Comprehensive. You will need to review each band of cover and pick one that you are happy with.
Private / Business / Sole Trader
Private van insurance will only cover you for personal use of your van. This may come cheaper where providers assume you will have a lower yearly mileage. Allowances vary substantially, however, so make sure you compare van insurance to ensure you'll actually be able to drive your van year-round.
For business users, the commercial van insurance policies available tend to insure the van rather than any specific person. This allows any number of authorised drivers to use the vehicle, although having an open policy will likely raise premiums significantly.
Another option is to name employees that might use the van on the policy, and doing so often attracts a discount.
If your usage is classified as sole trader, this assumes you intend to use the van both privately and commercially. While you can expect to pay higher premiums than for private use remember that the business-specific add-ons will protect not only your transportation but also your livelihood.
Whether private, business or sole trader - if you have more than one van, check for multi-vehicle discounts.
Discounts vs. add-ons
Discounted policies, however cheap, aren't always the best choice. Having the cheapest van insurance is immaterial if you aren't adequately covered, so cheap van insurance quotes can be misleading.
Matching a policy to how you intend to use your van is a better bet than simply trying to squeeze out every last concession. It may be worth opting for some specific add-ons to ensure that you and your van are fully protected.
Most van insurers include cover for windscreens, tools, van fixtures, locks, keys and audio equipment as standard in a comprehensive policy. However, these are usually available as add-ons to lower cover levels if required.
Additionally, breakdown cover and legal expenses insurance can be included on your policy if required.
If you are likely to use your van overseas, check if you are covered or if policy extensions are available to bring your protection whilst abroad into line with that at home. If you definitely won't need this, removing such provision from your policy might save you some money.
Assumptions and restrictions
As with specific levels of cover, when looking for van insurance compare the assumptions and limitations of all policies forensically.
It is worth checking whether the company places any limitations on the maximum load or age of insured vans, for example, to ensure you will be fully covered.
Likewise, make sure to check limits on engine size or whether any restrictions are placed on usage, i.e. solely for business or solely for domestic purposes. This applies to the vehicle's contents, too: does the policy cover items left in the van or in transit? If not, does your home/business insurance cover them?
Finally, check assumptions on overnight storage (commercial) and parking (private, sole trader), as this could either invalidate your policy or save you money. You could get significant discounts if you store your van in a compound overnight, if you have off-street parking, or if you simply invest in a steering wheel lock.
By obtaining comprehensive van insurance from a specialist provider, you can be sure that you, your vehicle and even your business will be financially protected should the unexpected occur. It therefore makes sense to both assess your own use of your van as well as research policies and providers, prior to buying.
Use our tables for the cheapest van insurance comparison, and once you've begun to narrow the field down make sure to get more than just one van insurance quote to get the best deal.