Modified van insurance

Your insurance provider will want to know about any modifications you make to your van, no matter how small. Read our guide to how modifications may impact your van insurance policy…

Your insurance provider will want to know about any modifications you make to your van, no matter how small. Read our guide to how modifications may impact your van insurance policy…

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
7
minute read
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Posted 8 DECEMBER 2020

What is modified van insurance?

When insuring a van, the type and model are key factors in determining its value, performance and safety. If you modify your van in any way, this could impact these things, which will then need to be reflected in your policy. A modified van insurance policy will tailor your cover to reflect your van’s changes.

Do I need modified van insurance?

Yes, van insurance is a legal requirement, and if you’ve insured your van but since modified it, or failed to declare any modifications, your policy won’t be valid. To make sure that you’re covered, declare any modifications to your provider and change your policy to reflect them.

What is a modification?

A modification is any alteration you make to your van that changes its look or performance. Whatever the reason for it, modifying your van can affect your insurance policy.

What does modified van insurance cover?

For the most part, modified van insurance will cover you for all the same things as a regular van policy. It’s just that you’re tailoring the policy to suit the way you’ve also tailored your van. It probably won’t surprise you that insuring a modified van will usually cost you more, as you’re also insuring the additions you’ve made.

The main thing you need to be careful about is ensuring that your modifications are legal. If any of them aren’t, then you’ll face obvious issues getting cover. A common example would be that tinted windows don’t let in enough light. You need to ensure they let in at least 70% of light, otherwise, not only will you not get cover, you’ll need to replace them again with the right sort.

You can also get the usual added extras to your policy. These include things like breakdown cover, courtesy van cover and smaller things like lost keys and windscreen protection.

What modifications do I need to declare to my insurance provider?

You need to declare any modifications to your insurance provider, or you could invalidate your policy. It’s also the law that any vehicle registered in the UK is classified correctly.

If you buy a higher-spec model, with features like a built-in sat-nav, parking sensors, or alloy wheels, this shouldn’t affect your premium. That’s because your van should still conform to the manufacturer’s specifications. But if you make your own modifications that increase your van’s value, you could find your premium goes up.

What counts as a modification?

There are lots of reasons you might modify a van. If you own a food truck, you’ll probably want to custom-paint your van or add refrigeration equipment. If you’re a plumber or a photographer and have lots of tools, you might want to kit out your van with specially designed storage.

But not all van modifications are business related. Let’s say you love surfing or mountain biking, you might want to add racks for your gear.

Here are some of the most popular modifications people make to their vans. If you make any of these changes to your vehicle, be sure to tell your insurance provider:

  • Adding shelves, storage or racks
  • Removing or adding seats
  • Adding power points
  • Fitting extra tech, like sound systems
  • Customised paintwork or upholstery
  • Fitting alloy wheels
  • Adding a dashboard camera or sat nav

Will every modification alter my insurance?

Some modifications may increase your premium, especially if they add value to your van, or make it more attractive to thieves. But other modifications will not affect your premium – and some could even make it cheaper, if they reduce your risk of having an accident.

Similarly, if you’ve made changes that improve your van’s security, like fitting internal racking or heavy-duty locks, an alarm or immobiliser, you might find that your insurance provider reduces your premium. Parking sensors could also lower your premium, as they mean you’re less likely to bump the back of your van, so you’re less likely to make a claim.

If you change the way your van drives, by altering the engine output or suspension, it’s likely to increase your premium. Cosmetic changes, like fitting spoilers or extra lights, could also make your insurance more expensive.

If you’ve only lightly modified your van, by changing the colour, wheels or sound system for example, it’s less likely to affect the price of your policy.

Dan Hutson, our motor insurance expert, says: “Modifications are always of interest to your insurance provider. While many small modifications are unlikely to affect your premium too heavily, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re covered in the event of an accident.”

How do I insure a modified van?

If you’ve modified your van, contact your insurance provider to see if they’ll extend your cover to include the modifications. If your van’s been heavily modified, your provider could increase your premium and might even decide not to offer you a renewal quote. If that happens, you’ll need to shop around for a specialist provider willing to give you a quote.

Why do I need to tell my insurance provider if I modify my van?

You need to tell your insurance provider so that they can adjust the policy for you. That’s because by modifying your van, you’re likely to be making it more valuable. Also, it may now have extra fixtures and fittings that your insurance provider doesn’t know about. This means they wouldn’t otherwise be covered if they got damaged.

How do I insure a converted campervan?

If you’ve converting your van into a campervan, consider getting specialist campervan insurance. You’ll also need to let the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) know once you’ve finished converting your van into a campervan. They’ll need a full description of the work that’s been done, along with photos and receipts. You may also need to take out personal possessions insurance to cover your belongings kept in the campervan, if they’re not already covered by your contents insurance.

What kind of modified van insurance can I get?

As with all types of van cover, there are three main types of modified van insurance you can choose from: third party only insurance, third party fire and theft insurance, and comprehensive insurance.

Third party: This is the most basic cover, and the minimum you need by law. It covers you for any damage to another person or vehicle. But it won’t cover repairs to your own van. Nor will it cover you if you have an accident, or someone breaks into your van and steals your equipment.

Third party, fire and theft: This gives you the same cover as third party, as well as protection against fire or theft.

Comprehensive: This gives you all the cover of a third party, fire and theft policy. On top of that, it’ll cover the costs of repairing your own van if you have an accident.

Most people assume that fully comprehensive is the most expensive, but that’s not always the case. It’s worth getting a quote so you can compare all the options.

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

To compare quotes, you’ll need your vehicle details, recent insurance documents and details of any recent convictions.

Vehicle details – make sure you have the make and model of your vehicle to hand, as well as details of any modifications. If you’re unsure, your V5C document may have this information.

Recent insurance documents – again, these will contain the details you’ll need for a quote. You should also find up-to-date claims information, which may influence the price you’re quoted.

Driver's personal details – along with the usual name, address, age and so on, you’ll need to declare any past offences. For example, speeding penalties.

How can I get cheaper modified van insurance?

If you want to know how any particular modification will affect your insurance, you should check directly with your insurance provider. And if you’re still keen on modifying your van, our van comparison service allows you to declare any changes up front, so you know the price you’re offered will include any modification you’ve made. By comparing providers with Compare the Market, we could help you get a great deal and reduce the cost of your modified van insurance.

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