If you already have a car insurance policy, it’s important to know what you’re covered for before you get behind the wheel of another vehicle.
Whether it's your own van, your company van or a hired van, the rules can vary. Here’s a quick summary before we dive into the detail:
In most cases, your car insurance will not automatically cover you for driving a van. You’ll need to have specific van insurance, whether it's a temporary hire, a borrowed vehicle, or a van that you own. Depending on what you use your van for, you'll need either private or commercial van insurance.
Driving your own van
If you own a van, your existing car insurance policy may not cover you. Even if you have a fully comprehensive policy, it might only cover you to drive a van on a third-party only basis.
This means that if you have an accident when driving the van, you'll only be covered for damage to other vehicles or injuries to other people, not you or the van you're driving. In this case, you might want to consider a separate van insurance policy.
Driving someone else's van
If you're planning to drive a van that belongs to someone else, it’s unlikely that your car insurance will fully cover you, even if you plan on driving the van safley its not worth the risk. If your policy includes some cover for driving other vehicles, this is likely to be in an emergency only, and probably only on a third-party basis.
To drive someone else’s van, you’ll most likely need to be added as a named driver on the owner’s policy. Or you may be better off taking out a temporary van policy instead.
Hiring a van
When hiring a van, most van rental companies will include some sort of van cover as part of their hire package. However, you should always check if this is the case, and that the level of cover is right for you.
If insurance isn’t included as part of the van rental company’s hire package, you should look into buying a temporary van insurance policy.
Van insurance vs car insurance policy
While there are many similarities between van and car insurance, they aren’t exactly the same. When you take out motor insurance, you’ll need a policy suited to the type of vehicle you drive. But the type of policy you need also comes down to what you use that vehicle for.
Vans are usually covered for either private or commercial use. If you only drive your van for personal use, you’ll need private van insurance. If you use your van for work, you’ll need business van insurance.
Licensing to drive a van
Once you’ve passed your full UK driving test (category B), you’re allowed to drive a car or van with a trailer, weighing up to 3.5 tonnes. Anything larger is considered a commercial van, and you’ll need to apply for a category C licence.
It’s an offence to use a vehicle you’re not licensed to drive. Doing so could result in a fine and points on your licence. Your insurance could also be invalidated, which means you wouldn’t be covered against any costs or damage following a collision.
No-Claims Discount (NCD) transfer
You may be able to transfer your no-claims discount (NCD) from a car to a van, but it depends on your insurer. Not all van insurance providers will accept NCD earned on a car or bike, so it’s a good idea to check before you get a quote. In any case, most insurers will only accept proof that is less than two years old.
So, if you were planning to drive a van on your car insurance, be sure to check your policy details, or speak with your insurance provider, before getting in the driver’s seat. In most cases you won’t be covered to drive, so you may need to take out a temporary van insurance policy to make sure you're covered.
Frequently asked questions
Can you drive a van if you have car insurance?
While your existing car insurance policy might provide some coverage for other vehicles, it's not a certainty. Coverage varies between insurers, so it's important to check your policy details, or speak with your insurance provider to understand if you can drive a van on the same policy. In most cases, you’ll probably need a separate van insurance policy.
Can you drive a van if you are fully comprehensive?
If you own a van, regardless of whether it's for commercial or personal use, you'll need specific insurance for that vehicle. Your name must be on the van's insurance policy. Insurance from another vehicle, even if it's comprehensive, doesn't typically extend to a van.
Can you insure a van for non-commercial use?
Yes you can. If your van is used for personal driving, like grocery shopping, weekends away, or trips to see family, you’ll most likely need private van insurance. This type of insurance is designed for vans used for non-work-related reasons.
What insurance do trades vans need?
Tradesmen, such as builders, plumbers and electricians, need a business van insurance policy that covers their tools and equipment, as well as their vehicle. This is sometimes referred to as “carriage of own goods”.
What is a non-commercial van?
A non-commercial van is a vehicle used primarily for personal driving – things like trips to the shops or visiting family. These vans typically have more seating and less boot space than commercial vans, catering more to passenger comfort than transporting goods.
Does fully comprehensive mean you can drive any car?
No, having fully comprehensive insurance doesn't automatically allow you to drive any car. If you plan on driving someone else's car, you’ll need to make sure that you're insured for that specific vehicle. You can do this either by taking out a temporary insurance policy, or by being added as a named driver on their insurance. Driving other cars without the proper insurance can lead to legal fines or points on your licence.
Can any driver drive a van?
Yes, most vans can be driven with a standard driving licence. However, for larger commercial vans (over 3.5 tonnes), a specific type of licence may be required. That’s why it’s always a good idea to check the vehicle's requirements before driving.