Your guide to van insurance

10 minutes

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Considering a change of car or adding another to your household? Rather than simply going for a newer model, it could be time to switch to a van. 

Vans offer much more flexibility, mainly due to the extra space they give you. This can make many tasks a lot easier, such as:

  • Moving house
  • Taking your dogs for a walk
  • Packing tents and equipment for a camping trip
  • Filling with bikes, skis and other sports gear

Whether you’re looking to buy a new or second-hand van, it’s essential that you arrange appropriate cover to protect yourself and your vehicle. Understand what type of insurance you need and how to find the most affordable van insurance quotes with our handy guide.

Why do I need van insurance?

Van insurance is a legal requirement to drive your vehicle on the road. You can receive a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if you’re caught driving without cover, which can escalate to a driving disqualification.

It provides financial protection against the same risks car drivers face. You can claim if you have an accident or if your vehicle is damaged or stolen.

What are the differences between car and van insurance?

Car and van insurance are similar, for example they both cover accidental damage and provide third party cover. However if you're using your van for work, for example, you'll need to check your terms and conditions carefully as not all insurers will cover you for business use.

Do I need car or van insurance?

Check your V5C vehicle registration certificate, the log book, to see if your vehicle should be insured as a car or a van.

The higher the group, the greater the premium. Vans are allocated a group depending on various factors, including the cost of their parts, performance and engine size.

Whether you’re looking to buy new or old, it’s worth checking the insurance group, as this will impact the cost of your cover.

Can I drive a van on my car licence?

If you have a standard car licence, then you can drive a van up to 3,500kg gross vehicle weight (GVW). However, if you passed your test after 1st January 1997, you may need to take extra tests before you can tow a trailer with a van - or drive one that weighs between 3,500kg GVW and 7,500kg GVW.

Driving a van is different to driving a car, mainly due to the size, weight and shape. You need to be aware of any blind spots – especially when there isn’t a rear-view mirror. Give yourself extra room when exiting junctions, parking and driving down narrow roads. The extra weight increases your braking distance too, so ensure you keep an appropriate distance between you and the vehicle in front.

How do I buy the best van?

The kind of van you buy will determine the type of van insurance quotes you receive. Answer the following questions to narrow down your choice and find the right van for you:

  • Why do you need a van? The reason you need a van should influence the shape and size you go for. If it’s just to put your dogs in the back, then a small, city van will be fine. For packing up bikes, you’ll need something larger like a panel van. While a crew van is great for taking the whole family on holiday.
  • How often will it be driven? If you’re buying a van to be your main vehicle, you’ll want something new with low mileage. If it’s only going to be driven on weekends, then an older model should be fine.
  • What’s your predicted annual mileage? Again, if you’re not going to drive it much, then mileage won’t be too much of a priority. The lower your estimated mileage, the lower the van insurance quotes you’re likely to receive.
  • Will you buy new or second-hand? This will depend mostly on your budget and usage. If you plan to do a lot of driving in your van, then you can get good value from a new model. Otherwise, to avoid the costs of depreciation, second-hand can be best.

What can I do to get cheaper van insurance?

There are many ways to lower insurance premiums and the van insurance quote you’re offered. These range from simple tips such as paying annually, rather than monthly, to adding another driver to your policy. Or even putting all your vehicles onto a single insurance policy.

Other ways to get cheaper van insurance include:

  1. Building your no claim discount – in some cases you can use your no claim discount from driving a car towards your van
  2. Improving security – the more secure your van is, the less risky it is for insurers. Fitting a tracker, immobiliser, steering wheel lock and alarm can help
  3. Choosing a small van – generally, the smaller the engine and shorter the wheelbase, the cheaper the insurance. Older models can also lower your premium, but consider the running costs
  4. Increasing excess – agreeing to pay a higher excess if you need to make a claim can reduce your van insurance costs

Make sure you’re fully covered and apply for a van insurance quote today.


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All content is approved by our in-house advisory board of experts.