This is just an introduction to van insurance and is not intended to be representative of the covers or restrictions offered by any particular insurance or that all insurance provide the protection described. You can get a recommendation for a particular insurance to suit your own circumstances by talking to the skilled staff at Goods in Transit Direct on freephone 0121 448 6914.
It is the law in this country that every motor vehicle must be insured to a minimum standard defined by the Road Traffic Act of 1988. This says that you must have insurance to cover you at least for injuries that you might cause to other people and damage to their property. Insurance companies treat vans with a gross vehicle weight of less than about 3.5 tons as small commercial vehicles. Heavier vehicles than this are insured as trucks, and may have specific licensing requirements. For instance the need for drivers to be properly qualified and hold a large goods vehicles licence, and for the operator to have a haulage operator’s licence.
Most “third party” insurances cover you for little more than the legal requirements. “Third party fire and theft” insurances will also cover you for damage caused to your vehicle during a theft or an attempted theft, or if your vehicle is involved in a fire. If your vehicle is not recovered following a theft, or is a total loss in a fire, the insurance company will pay you the value of your vehicle at the time of the incident. If you have a valuable vehicle, you may want to purchase “comprehensive” insurance. This also covers damage to your own vehicle in an accident, even if the accident is your fault, and malicious damage.
“Third party” type insurances do not cover you for damage to your own vehicle or property.
“Comprehensive” policies usually have an “excess”. This is an amount of money that you are responsible for if you make a claim. Suppose you make a claim for £1000 of damage. If you have an excess of £250, you will be required to pay for the first £250 of the claim and the insurer will pay the rest. There will also be restrictions on what you can use your vehicle for and who may drive it. For instance, the insurance may only cover the vehicle whilst being driven by certain named drivers. Commercial vehicles need to be insured for the particular type of activity that they are being used for.There are three common types:
“Carriage of own goods” insurance is appropriate for trades people such as builders, plumbers, electricians, window cleaners and so on where the van’s contents belong to the owner and are being used for the work being carried out. The van’s contents will be tools and materials typically.
Haulage insurance is for people using their vans typically for a single drop load carried over a long distance. You will be carrying the goods on behalf of a third party who will be paying you specifically for this. Your insurance certificate will include a phrase saying that you are allowed to use the vehicle “for business purposes including the carriage of goods for hire or reward”. A couple of drops would be acceptable, but having several drops in a small area is regarded by insurance companies as a higher risk which will require courier insurance.
Courier insurance is similar to haulage, in that you are carrying other people’s goods for hire or reward, but it is expected that you will be using your van in a small area in a town or city to make many drops. You might be carrying parcels to local businesses or homes for instance.
The goods and tools being carried are typically not covered by the insurance. You need to take out a “goods in transit” insurance separately to cover the goods. Tradesmen can sometimes get tools cover as an optional extra on their public liability insurance. If you allow your vehicle to be driven by someone else, or used for some other purpose, it will not be insured and in fact it will be being driven illegally.
When obtaining quotes for your commercial vehicle insurance make sure that you have the correct useage. Your policy will need to state courier useage, hire and reward and/or haulage.Just because you have a van doesn’t mean you need basic van insurance. Without the correct useage on the policy, you will not be insured correctly and any claim may be classed as void.The police now pull over van drivers to check that they are insured correctly under the useage. If you are a courier and don’t have the correct useage cover, you may end up with an IN10 (i.e. driving without the correct insurance PLUS six points on your licence)
Sometimes broken windscreens are not covered. It is normal now for your vehicle to not be covered for theft if you leave your keys in the vehicle.