Understanding Insurance

A Beginners guide to van insurance

Do you know where to start with getting your Van insured? Read the Dial Direct beginner’s guide to van insurance where we attempt to answer your questions and unscramble the world of van insurance for you!

Why do I need van insurance?

Since the Government brought in the Road Traffic Act (1930) it has been a legal requirement, for all drivers on UK roads, to have insurance. Whether you drive a car, a motorbike or a van, you are legally obliged to be insured against the possibility that you may injure another person or cause damage to another’s property. Of course, depending upon your level of cover, you will also be covered for damage to your own vehicle.

What will happen if I don’t have van insurance?

Anyone who doesn’t have van insurance will be liable for a penalty fine. Additionally, under the new Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) legislation that came into force in 2011, it is now an offence to be a registered keeper of a vehicle that does not have insurance. The exception to the rule here is if you have applied for, and been granted, a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) from the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA).

Based on the CIE legislation, if you own a van and fail to either insure it or get a SORN, even if it is just sat on your driveway, then the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and DVLA will find out pretty quickly.

If you are found to not have insurance, in the first instance you will be sent a warning letter, called an Insurance Advisory Letters (IAL) from the MIB. If, after you have received this letter you still do not insure your van, then you will be hit with a £100 fixed penalty and a fine of up to £1,000.

Eventually your vehicle can be clamped and seized as well.

What types of van insurance are there?

There are four main types of policy available with differing levels of cover for van owners, these are:

Telematics insurance relies on the insured vehicle being fitted with a telematics box otherwise referred to as a ‘black box’. This device calculates the price of your premium by analysing your driving style and risk factor. So, the general premise of telematics is that the safer you drive, the cheaper your premium could be.  

Third party only insurance is the minimum legal requirement that is available within the UK. This level of cover, should you have an accident, will pay for any damage, caused by you, to another’s vehicle or property. It does not cover the repairs to your vehicle or any medical costs that you may incur as a result of the accident.

Third party fire and theft offers everything that third party only insurance does but with the added benefit of covering your vehicle in the case that it is stolen or damaged by accidental or malicious fire (arson).

Comprehensive insurance is the highest level of cover that you can purchase in the UK and covers you for all of the above plus cover for you and your car for any injury or damage sustained, even if the accident was your fault.

What sorts of van insurance are there?

Depending on whether you use your van for business or pleasure, you will require different sort of van insurance policy. Depending on your vans function, there are different options available to you including private and commercial van insurance.

Private van insurance covers you for social and everyday activities only. Activities like taking the children to school, going shopping and family outings are covered.

If you do not use your van for business, including commuting, then you will be required to purchase a private van insurance policy.

It may be easy to presume that commercial van insurance applies only to self-employed drivers using their van to carry out a trade such as plumbing or carpentry.

But, in fact, if you use your van for work, whether you own your own company or simply use your van to travel to work, you will need to purchase a commercial van insurance policy.

There are three different classifications of commercial van insurance, these are:

Carriage of own goods

Offers cover for van drivers that carry equipment and tool’s needed for their trade. For example; a builder, plumber or carpenter will need this type of cover. This level of cover is also needed for people who use their van to commute to their place of work.

Carriage of goods for hire or reward

This type of van insurance applies to delivery drivers, particularly those who deliver to multiple addresses and customers.


Haulage tends to apply to drivers that take a single load to a drop point a long distance away. For example; those who help with house moves.

A carriage of goods for hire or reward policy can overlap with a haulage insurance policy. A haulage insurance policy can also cover courier work. It all depends on the classification of your role and whether you do single or multiple drop-offs. It is always worth researching the type of insurance policy you need before committing to purchase.

What factors may will affect my van insurance price?

There are many factors which contribute towards the price of your van insurance policy, including but not limited to:

Where you live

If you live in an area where, statistically, there is a high crime rate (e.g. car theft, arson) then your insurance is inevitably going to be priced higher.

Where you work

Some occupations can make a difference to your insurance premium.  For example, if you spend your entire day on the road, the chances of you having an accident may be higher than those who spend their day working at a desk.

Whether you have raised a previous claim/ conviction

Previous driving convictions, claims and penalties can affect the cost of your insurance premium.

What information do I need to get a van insurance quote?

Depending upon who you are applying for cover with, the questions asked may differ. That said, when applying for van insurance you will be asked a number of standard questions which will work together in order for the insurer to calculate a price.  As a basic guide, you may be asked to provide the following details:

  • Your name
  • Your age
  • Your occupation
  • Your full address
  • Details of any previous claims and convictions
  • Details of any medical conditions
  • Van use
  • Full van details including; age, registration, make and model, any van modifications
  • The annual mileage that the vehicle will cover
  • Where your van is kept overnight
  • Any additional drivers details
  • Any no claims discount you have

It is important to note that insurance fraud is a serious offence so it is integral that you answer all questions honestly. Incorrect information will result in your insurance being void.

We hope that this guide has been helpful. If you have any suggestions or would like us to cover any specific topic, please email us at feedback@dialdirect.co.uk with your request.

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