Private van insurance

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Comparing private van insurance

If you own a van that’s for social, domestic or pleasure – but not business – use, then it’s a good idea to shop around for private van insurance. Here’s how to get the right cover, including some tips to lower the price of your van insurance.

What is private van insurance and how does it work?

Van insurance is similar to car insurance as your vehicle is insured for various risks, and what you pay for your policy (the premium) is based on a variety of things, including:

  • the type of vehicle 
  • what you use the van for 
  • how many miles you drive 
  • where the vehicle is kept overnight 
  • your driving history and experience 
  • your personal circumstances

Different insurers may also consider other factors including if you have an immobiliser, whether there are other drivers on your policy, and if you have access to other vehicles. 

In terms of types of vehicles, vans are put into categories from 1-50 by the Association of British Insurers. The number 1 is the lowest risk category and 50 is the highest-risk category. There are various factors that contribute to the category into which your van is placed. These factors include the size and weight of the vehicle, its value, safety ratings, cost of repairs and even emissions. 

Like car insurance, you can get different types of policies to cover you for different types of risk.

What are the different types of private van insurance?

Van insurance is similar to car insurance in that you get three types of policies:

  • Third party only. This is the minimum level of cover you need to legally drive on UK roads. It covers any injury you cause to someone else, and for any damage you cause to their property or their vehicles. 
  • Third party, fire and theft. This gives you the cover that third party provides, and it also provides cover for your van if it’s damaged by fire or stolen.
  • Fully comprehensive. This covers you for all of the above, and it also means you’re covered for damage to your own van, no matter whether the accident was caused by you or not.

You’ll need to work out if you need private van insurance or business and commercial van insurance.

What does private van insurance cover?

Private van insurance will cover you only for your personal and social use. This could include holidays, personal haulage such as shopping for large items or moving house, as well as any sports and activities that might require lots of equipment.

The important thing to know is that private van insurance won’t cover business use. If you’re driving your van for commercial purposes without the right cover, you’ll void your policy and won’t be covered.

Do I need private van insurance or business/commercial van insurance?

This depends on what you use your van for.  
You’ll need private van insurance if you’re using your van for social, domestic or pleasure only. Basically, you don’t use your van for anything related to a business or making money.  
For example, if you’re into adventure sports, you might have a van for carrying surfboards, camping gear or mountain bikes. Or you might only use your van for the big weekly shop or for taking the dogs to the park. In this case, you’ll need private van insurance.  
You’ll need business/commercial van insurance if you use your van for business purposes. For example, you’re a courier, or a tradesperson such as a carpenter or blacksmith and you use your van to carry your work tools.  
Even if you only use your van to commute to work, you’ll still need business/commercial van insurance as it’s considered a business-related activity.  
Find out more about business and commercial van insurance.

Is my vehicle considered to be a van?

A van can’t be covered by car insurance and vice versa, so it’s important you know the difference to get the right kind of insurance for your vehicle. Modern vans are more comfortable, equipped and easier to drive, so it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish the vehicle category.  
For example, pick-up trucks are increasing in popularity, both for private and commercial use. However, for insurance purposes, a pick-up is considered to be a van, not a car.  
If you’re unsure, you can use your registration number to find out if your vehicle is a van or a car.  
You should also be able to find the information you need in your V5C logbook. If it’s classed as M1, it’s a car. If it’s classed as N1 or N2, it’s a van.

What policy add-ons can I get for private van insurance?

If you want extra cover for your private van insurance, you might want to consider these add-ons:

  • Legal cover - this could help cover legal costs such as solicitors’ fees in the event of an accident that wasn’t your fault.
  • Courtesy van – a temporary replacement if your van is out of action.
  • Keys and windscreen cover – repair costs if your keys or windscreen are damaged or if you need to replace lost keys.
  • Personal accident – injury costs if you’re involved in an accident, or a pay-out to your family if an accident results in your death.
  • Driving abroad – gives you the same level of cover as you have at home when you drive in the EU – usually for up to 90 days.
  • Breakdown cover - this can help you get back on the road faster with roadside assistance, or ensure that you and your van are taken to your destination.

How can I get cheaper private van insurance?

Here are some ways that could help you get a lower price on your private van insurance:

  • Compare private van insurance quotes – we can help you compare van insurance policies, quickly and simply. Visit our van insurance comparison page and see if you can save.
  • Increase your voluntary excess – voluntary excess is the amount you contribute (in addition to the compulsory excess) towards any claim. If you’re prepared to increase the voluntary excess on your policy, it may reduce your premium. Just make sure you can comfortably pay the full amount if you do need to make a claim.
  • Build up your no-claims discount – providers typically offer a discount based on the number of years you’ve been driving without making a claim.
  • Park wisely – if you’re able to park your van off the road, it could lower your premium.
  • Reduce your annual mileage – a lower mileage could potentially mean lower insurance premiums. But it’s important you’re honest, as underestimating your mileage could invalidate your policy in the event of a claim.

Frequently asked questions

Is van insurance a legal requirement?

Yes, van insurance is a legal requirement for all van drivers in the UK.

Does private van insurance cover commuting?

No, for insurance purposes, commuting to work counts as a business-related activity, which means that, to use your van to commute to work, you’ll need a business/commercial van insurance policy.

Do I need private van insurance even if I don’t drive my van regularly?

Yes.  Van insurance is a must  even if you only drive your van at certain times of the year. From June 2011, the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) act was introduced, which states that all road-going vehicles must be insured even if they’re not in use. The only exception to this is if you have declared the vehicle SORN statutory off-road notification with the DVLA. If you do this, you can’t drive or park your van on a public road.

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 which may offer a more specific level of cover.  
Find out about the rules and legal limits for towing in our useful guide.

What about the contents of my van?

Most comprehensive policies include personal belongings cover up to a certain limit, as standard.  
Some policies also include contents like sporting and leisure equipment with a higher limit. But some policies will have rules against leaving your belongings unattended, or state that you shouldn’t be able to see them from the outside. 
If you have third party only or third party, fire and theft cover, you should be able to add personal belongings cover as an extra. However, it’s worth comparing with fully comprehensive van insurance, which includes personal belongings cover. In some cases, the higher level of cover could work out to be cheaper.

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.  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 for. Usually cover lasts for 60 or 90 days. 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.  
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.

How much does van insurance cost?

Get van insurance from £653 a year** Young drivers can get van insurance from £1,598 a year*** 29.26% of customers achieved an average saving of £737.34****

**51% of people could achieve a quote of  £652.08 per year for their van insurance based on Compare the Market data in March, 2022. 
***51% of young drivers between 17-24 years old could achieve a quote of £1,597.74 per year for their van insurance based on Compare the Market data in March, 2022. 
****29.26% of new van insurance customers achieved an average saving of £737.34 through Compare the Market according to independent research carried out by Consumer Intelligence during March, 2022.

What do I need to get a quote?

To get a quote, you’ll need to give us some information about you and your van, including:

  • Your age and address 
  • Make, model and registration number of your van 
  • Type of usage – for private van insurance you’ll need to click social, domestic and pleasure only 
  • Details about your driving history including any claims and convictions 
  • The level of cover you want 
  • Details of any named driver you wish to add

Also, you’ll be able to choose any add-ons you may want to buy. Once we have your details, we’ll show you a list of suitable quotes to compare.

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Why use Compare the Market?

We compare 45 van insurance products^^^ 92.0% of users would recommend Compare the Market to friends or family^^^^
^^^Correct as of March 2021. 
^^^^For the period 1st June to 31st August 2021, 8944 people responded to the recommend question. 8,226 responded with a score of 6 or above, therefore 92.0% are likely to recommend.
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Rob Warren

Van insurance expert

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.”