Why choose a van instead of a car?

5 minute read

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Cars are a great way to get around but they’re not always the most practical option. If you have a large family, love exploring the great outdoors, or enjoy road trips and staycations, van life may offer the flexibility you’re after.

  • Vans offer more freedom than cars
  • Insurance can be just as affordable
  • Smaller models make a transition easier
Owning a van certainly offers you much more freedom. Whether your passion is for outdoor sports such as kayaking, cycling and surfing, weekend camping trips or even hobbies such as fishing, a van allows you to embrace what you love. Regular staycationers and roadtrippers will benefit from the extra space.

The cost of a van can put some drivers off. But there are many small models available and ways to get cheaper van insurance to make it affordable.

What should I consider when buying a van?

If you’ve bought a car before, purchasing a van shouldn’t be too different. Start with your budget and decide what you want a van for. This will tell you what size of van you need and whether it’s best to buy new or second-hand. Fuel economy, van insurance and maintenance need to be considered within your budget too.

If you’re buying a second-hand van, make sure you take a test drive to check it’s in a good condition and the price is fair. Mileage and engine size impact van insurance costs.

Buying a van:

  • How you’ll use your van
    This will help you find the right model for your needs
  • Insurance Group
    Mileage, engine size, and weight influence your insurance group and quote
  • Van access
    Do you need rear or side access?  
  • Loading regulations
    Every vehicle on the road in the UK has a ‘plated weight’. Estimate the weight of your gear and check you’re safe

Is van insurance more expensive than car insurance?

Van and car insurance work in the same way, just the type of vehicle being insured differs. The same factors influence both policies. These include:

  • Age of the driver
  • Location where the vehicle is kept
  • Make and model
  • Engine size
  • Level of cover required

Just as the cost of insurance usually increases for a 2.0-litre saloon compared to a 1.2-litre model, the same is true for vans.

The vehicle’s use also affects van insurance quotes. If you’re planning to use it for work and store tools, materials or other valuable goods inside it, commercial van insurance will be required. This will normally be more expensive as it has to cover the extra value of any equipment.

If you’re only using a van for domestic use, standard van insurance should be fine.

Can I drive a van on my car licence?

Yes, if you have a standard car driving licence then you can drive a van up to 3,500kg. To drive a larger van that weighs up to 7,500kg or tow a trailer with your van, you will need to take extra tests if your driving licence was issued after January 1st 1997.

Make sure you have the right driving licence – otherwise you can be fined up to £1,000 and receive 3 or 6 penalty points on your licence.

How do I get cheaper van insurance?

Aside from the vehicle, van insurance will likely be your second-highest expense. When choosing a model there are a few things you can do to make it more affordable:

  • Apply for van insurance quotes early
    Research has shown that getting a quote the day before a policy starts can cost more than organising it 3 weeks before
  • Buy a second-hand van
    Generally, older vehicles are cheaper to insure as the purchase price is lower
  • Drive a small van
    The less powerful the engine and smaller the van, the lower the risk and the cheaper the insurance
  • Limit your mileage
    More driving means more risk of a claim, so try to give an accurate estimate of how many miles you expect to drive in a year
  • Improve your security
    Even if your van is used for personal reasons and left empty overnight, adding an alarm, immobiliser and tracker makes it more secure and cheaper to insure

Once you’ve decided on the van that’s right for you, get a van insurance policy to make sure you’re fully covered.


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