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 Correct as of December 2023.
Comparing private van insurance
If you own a van for personal rather than business use, you’ll need private van insurance. Here’s how to find the right policy, along with some tips for getting the best-value policy for you.
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What does private van insurance cover?
Private van insurance is for vans that are only used for social or domestic purposes.
If you’re using your van to go on holiday, do a big shop or move house, or for activities like surfing, mountain biking or camping, this counts as private rather than commercial usage. It determines the kind of van insurance you’ll need to get.
As with car insurance, there are different types of policies to cover you for different types of risk.
What are the different types of private van insurance?
Depending on how much you want to spend and the level of cover you need, you have three options to choose from:
- Third-party only - this is the minimum level of cover you need to drive legally in the UK. It covers you for injuries to others, and any damage you cause to their property or vehicle.
- Third party, fire and theft - this includes third-party cover, plus the cost of repairing or replacing your van if it’s damaged by fire or stolen.
- Fully comprehensive - this covers all of the above, plus any damage to your vehicle, regardless of whose fault it was.
You may be working as a courier, a tradesperson, or even just using your van for your daily commute: it’s all business-related activity that’s focused on making money. This would make a private van insurance policy void if you needed to make a claim.
Is my vehicle considered to be a van?
Modern vans are more comfortable, better equipped, and easier to drive than they used to be. Some models can also look a lot like cars. However, a van can’t be covered by car insurance and vice versa, so it’s important to know what you’re driving.
If you’re not sure, you can use your registration number to find out on the gov.uk website. If the Vehicle Type Approval Number (TAN) is M1, it’s a car. If it’s classed as N1 or N2, it’s a van, also referred to as a goods vehicle.
You should also find this information in your V5C logbook.
What policy add-ons can I get for private van insurance?
Depending on the insurance provider, you may be able to include some of the following in your private van insurance:
- Legal cover – this could help cover legal costs such as solicitors’ fees after an accident that wasn’t your fault.
- Courtesy van – a temporary replacement if your van is out of action. If it’s being repaired, you may be required to use a garage approved by your insurance provider.
- Keys and windscreen cover – to cover costs if your keys or windscreen are damaged or you lose your keys.
- Stereo cover – for any permanently fitted audio equipment.
- Personal accident – to cover injury costs if you’re involved in an accident, or a pay-out to your family in the event of your death in an accident.
- Personal belongings cover – to help you replace possessions that are damaged or stolen while in your van. Exclusions may apply.
- Driving abroad – giving you the same level of cover in the EU as you have at home – usually up to 90 days per trip.
- Breakdown cover – to help you get back on the road faster with roadside assistance or ensure that you and your van are taken to your intended destination.
- 24-hour emergency helpline – so you’ve always got support and advice on hand if you need it.
Always read the small print before choosing a private van insurance policy.
How can I get cheaper private van insurance?
Every van is given a Group Rating by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). This plays a part in how much you’ll pay for private van insurance and it’s something you might want to think about when you’re buying your vehicle.
Vans registered before 2016 fall into categories 1-20 and those registered from 2016 onwards are put into categories 21-50. In both instances, the higher the number, the more you’re likely to pay for insurance as these are recognised by insurance providers as higher-risk vehicles.
There are various factors that affect the category of your van, including:
- Purchase price
- The size and weight of the vehicle
- Engine size and power
- Security features, including alarms
- Cost of repairs.
Once you’ve bought your van, there are other ways you can get a better price on your insurance, from reducing your annual mileage to parking it in a garage or driveway rather than on the road.
Comparing private van insurance policies could also help you save. Visit our van insurance comparison page for a quick and easy way to review the best options from our panel of providers, plus some suggestions to help you get a cheaper quote.
For more money-saving advice, there’s also our top tips for getting cheaper van insurance.
How much does van insurance cost?
What do I need to get a quote?
To get a quote for private van insurance, you’ll need to give us some information about you and your van, including:
- Your age and address.
- Your van’s make, model and registration number. Have a look in the vehicles VC5 logbook for details or on the gov.uk website.
- Recent insurance documents. These will provide details of your driving history including any claims you’ve made. Your driving record is also available on the gov.uk website.
- Type of usage – for private van insurance you’ll need to select social, domestic and pleasure only.
- The level of cover you want.
- Details of any named drivers you’d like to add.
You’ll also be able to include any add-ons you may want to buy. Once we have all the necessary information, we’ll show you a list of suitable quotes to compare.Start a quote
Frequently asked questions
Is van insurance a legal requirement?
Yes, van insurance is a legal requirement for all van drivers in the UK. The minimum amount of cover you’re allowed is third party only.
Does private van insurance cover commuting?
No, for insurance purposes, commuting to work counts as a business-related activity. If you’re using your van to commute, even if it’s only occasionally, you’ll need a business/commercial van insurance policy rather than private van insurance.
Do I need private van insurance even if I don’t drive my van regularly?
Yes. Under the 2011 Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) scheme, any vehicles on the road and in public places must be insured even if they’re not in use. The only exception is if you’ve officially declared your van ‘off the road’ by making a SORN statutory off road notification to the DVLA.
Once you’ve done this, you can’t then drive or park your van on a public road. If you do, there’s a fixed penalty of £100, your van will be clamped, compounded or even destroyed, and you could face prosecution and a maximum fine of £1,000.
Are trailers and caravans covered by private van insurance?
In most cases, your private van insurance will cover a trailer or caravan you’re towing, but only at third-party level. For example, if you’re driving along and the trailer becomes disconnected, causing an accident, it’s likely you’d be covered for injury and damage to others involved, but not for damage to your trailer.
If you use your van to tow a caravan, you might want to consider a separate caravan insurance policy.
Find out about the rules and legal limits for towing in our useful guide.
I have a pick-up truck – do I need van insurance?
Are the contents of my van protected with private van insurance?
Most comprehensive policies include personal belongings cover up to a certain limit as standard. Depending on the insurance provider, you may also be able to add a higher level of cover for expensive sport and leisure equipment.
If you have third-party only or third-party, fire and theft cover, protection for your personal belongings can often be added as an extra. However, it’s worth comparing fully comprehensive van insurance, which usually includes personal belongings cover. In some cases, the higher level of cover could work out to be cheaper.
Always read the small print of your policy carefully as some have rules against leaving your belongings unattended, or state that they shouldn’t be visible to anyone passing by.
Will private van insurance cover me for driving abroad?
If you’re planning a holiday to Europe, your van insurance will automatically provide a minimum of third-party cover for driving in EU countries, although for certain destinations you may also need a green card from your insurance provider. You’ll find country-by-country requirements on the gov.uk website.
Most policies allow you to travel as many miles as you like, but typically there’s a limit on the number of European countries you can visit and on the number of days you’ll be covered per year or per trip. Check your policy to be absolutely sure about what is and isn’t covered.
Talk to your insurance provider if you want to increase the level of cover. For example, it may be that you want fully comprehensive insurance, which can cover you in a wider range of situations than third party. You might need to pay for extra cover as an add-on to your existing policy.
If you’re planning a trip away, read our simple guide to driving abroad.
It’s also a good idea to consider European breakdown cover, either as an add-on to your private van insurance or as a separate policy.
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What our expert says...
“If you’re unsure whether you need private or commercial van insurance, talk to your insurance provider for advice and assistance. Be honest about what you use your van for to ensure you have the right type of cover.”
- Julie Daniels, Insurance expert