A beginner's guide to van insurance

Written by Steve Cook

Published on

If you're a van owner in the UK, having the right insurance is essential. Van insurance not only keeps you on the right side of the law, it also provides financial protection in case of an accident, theft or damage.

In this beginner's guide, we'll walk you through the basics of van insurance, helping you understand the different types of cover and the things that can really affect your costs.

Parked panel vans

Why is van insurance needed?

Just like car insurance, van insurance is a legal requirement in the UK. The Road Traffic Act states that all drivers must have insurance to cover any potential injuries or property damage that can occur following an accident.

The type of van insurance you need depends on how you use your vehicle — private van insurance covers social trips and everyday driving, while commercial van insurance covers you for business use and work-related driving.

Types of van insurance

When insuring your van, it's important to choose the right type of cover:

Private (social, domestic and pleasure only)

If you only use your van for personal driving, like trips to the shops or weekends away, a social, domestic and pleasure policy will cover you.

Social and commuting

This type of policy covers you for personal use (see above) plus commuting to a single, fixed place of work.

Business use (carriage of own goods)

For tradespeople who use their vans to transport tools and equipment for their work, a business van insurance policy is needed.

Courier insurance (carriage of goods for hire and reward)

If you use your van to deliver goods to multiple addresses in exchange for payment, you'll need courier van insurance. This type of cover is essential for delivery drivers and couriers.

Haulage insurance

Typically, haulage insurance covers the transportation of goods over longer distances to a single location, such as moving items between warehouses or storage facilities.

Levels of van insurance

Like car insurance, van insurance comes in 3 main levels of cover:

Third Party Only

Third party only is the minimum legal requirement for van insurance in the UK. It covers damage or injury caused to others but provides no protection for your own van.

Third Party, Fire and Theft

This policy includes third party only cover and additional protection against fire damage and theft of your van. However, it does not cover damage to your own van resulting from an accident.


Comprehensive van insurance is the highest level of cover. It includes third party, fire and theft coverage, as well as protection for your own van in case of an accident. Comprehensive policies usually cost the most, but also tend to include additional protection, like windscreen and personal belongings cover.

Van driver loading his van

Things that can affect van insurance costs

Several factors can influence the cost of your van insurance premiums:

  • Your work or occupation
  • Previous claims and convictions
  • How you use your van
  • Your van insurance group
  • Any optional extras you choose

Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

Work or occupation

The type of work you do can affect your van insurance costs. Some professions are considered higher risk than others, particularly if your job involves frequent driving or transporting valuable goods. Insurers may view this as a high risk, which means higher insurance prices.

Previous claims and convictions

Previous claims or driving convictions can also lead to increased van insurance prices. Insurers view drivers with a history of accidents or violations as more likely to make future claims, and that usually means higher costs.

Van usage

How you use your van is another crucial factor in determining your premiums. Your annual mileage and the type of goods you transport will be considered when calculating your insurance costs. Higher mileage or transporting hazardous materials may result in increased premiums.

Van insurance groups

Insurance groups play a significant role in determining the cost of your van insurance. Vans are categorised into different insurance groups, based on things such as their value, repair costs, safety features and performance.

The make, model, age, and any modifications to your van can also affect your insurance price. Newer, more expensive vans or those with high-performance modifications may cost more to insure due to higher repair or replacement costs.

Optional extras

To tailor your van insurance policy to your needs, you can often choose from a range of optional extras. Breakdown cover can help if your van breaks down, including roadside repairs and recovery, helping to minimise downtime and get you back on the road quickly.

Legal expenses cover can help in the event of a dispute or legal action, covering costs if you need to defend yourself or pursue a claim related to your van.

Replacement vehicle cover provides a temporary replacement van if yours is off the road due to an insured incident, helping to keep your business running smoothly while your van is being repaired.

Reducing your van insurance costs

Check out our guide to cheaper van insurance for some handy tips on how to reduce your van insurance costs. By understanding the things that affect your premiums, you can help to keep your insurance costs under control.

Van drivers smilling in parked car

Frequently asked questions

What is the cheapest van for insurance in the UK?

The Mercedes Vito, Peugeot Expert, and Renault Trafic are among the cheapest vans to insure in the UK.

Are vans expensive to insure?

Vans are often more expensive to insure than cars. This is mostly due to their size, weight, powerful engines, and the fact that they often travel greater distances for business or work reasons, which increases the risk of a crash.

Can I drive a van on my car insurance?

It depends on your specific car insurance policy. Some fully comprehensive policies may cover you to drive a van, but only on a third-party basis.

Why is my insurance so high on a van?

Van insurance can be more expensive because vans are often on the road all day, are larger and heavier than cars, and have more powerful engines, increasing the risk of an accident.

Are older vans cheaper to insure?

Not necessarily. Both older and newer vans are placed in insurance groups, with higher numbers indicating more expensive premiums.

Why is van insurance so high in the UK?

Van insurance is typically more expensive in the UK due to higher repair and replacement costs, increased accident risks, potential for greater damage, and the temptation for thieves to target vans for their contents.