The simple answer, of course, is that if you wish to use any motor vehicle on the public highway in theUK, then the law says that you need a minimum of third party insurance cover.

If you own and want to use a van, however, your insurance needs may be distinguished by a number of factors.

Use

Van insurance is typically differentiated according to the use of the vehicle and most insurers employ one of three principal categories:

  • if you have simply chosen a van as the family runabout, for example, the appropriate use class is likely to be personal, recreation and leisure – just as any standard family saloon;
  • if you are using the van for business use – for getting to and from work sites whilst transporting tools and materials, for example – then a business use insurance category needs to be declared;
  • alternatively, you might be using the van as a delivery vehicle, for transporting someone else’s goods or products – and that defines the third most common insurance category;

Whatever the principal use for your van, moreover, it is important that you describe it accurately to your insurer since this is the basis on which the assessment of risk – and the calculation of the relevant premium – is made. A misleading or false declaration of the van’s use might invalidate the insurance cover entirely.

Level of insurance

Although you need to insure your van according to how it is going to be used, you may still choose the level of cover to suit your needs:

  • third party cover is the minimum required by law and indemnifies you only against claims from third parties – in other words, it ensures that your insurer meets any claims for damage to property or personal injury suffered by other people. It offers no cover for any injuries you sustain or any damage caused to your own vehicle, so is typically used only in the case of an old or low value van;
  • an alternative is the self-descriptive third party, fire and theft level of insurance cover, which protects you and your van not only against claims from third parties but also the vehicle itself in the event of fire or theft;
  • comprehensive insurance – as the name suggests – not only provides cover against third party claims, fire and theft, but also accidental damage to the vehicle for which you yourself may have been responsible.

Excess

Although you need to insure your van according to the way it is going to be used, to a level of insurance appropriate to its value and cost of repair, you might nevertheless choose to reduce the cost of the premiums by accepting a higher rate of voluntary excess (the amount of any claim which you agree to pay before settlement of any balance by your insurer). The general principle, of course, is that the higher the amount of excess, the lower the premium paid to the insurer.

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