Van life: Could you be invalidating your van insurance?

5 minute read

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People are living the van life everywhere. No longer are they only used by workmen to transport tools and equipment around. Many drivers are now choosing a van over a car  to enjoy their outdoor passions, get around during the day and take drives at the weekend.

  • You must arrange van insurance by law
  • While most modifications are legal, you must tell your insurer 
  • Your policy may become invalid if these details are incorrect
To embark on your van life, you may need to modify your vehicle. Many of these can be covered by van insurance, but you need to ensure they’re declared when you get a quote and you update your current cover. Otherwise you risk invalidating your policy, which can lead to problems if you need to make a claim.

Ways to invalidate your van insurance

Van insurance is a legal requirement  to drive on UK roads and it’s essential that you have the correct level of cover to protect you and your vehicle. When applying for a quote, there’s a lot of information to provide. Mistakes or gaps can invalidate your cover. This can mean you end up out of pocket when making a claim.

There are various ways you can invalidate your cover:

  1. Giving incorrect information
    It could be about where your van is parked in the day or at night, your average mileage or occupation, but not giving accurate information can make your policy invalid.
  2. Not updating details
    If any of your personal or vehicle details changes, you must inform your insurer. A new job or moving to a new house can impact how you use your van and introduce different risks.
  3. Poor van maintenance
    Keeping your van in a roadworthy condition will likely be a requirement of your insurance policy. Breakdowns because of negligence may not be covered.
  4. Allowing other drivers to use your van
    Insurers can’t pay out if an unnamed driver has an accident in your van. Only let named drivers on your policy drive your van.
  5. Making modifications to your van
    Modifications can affect the value and/or power of your van, impacting your premium. Not all of these can be covered and if your insurer isn’t aware of them, it can invalidate your policy.

If any of these apply to you, the best thing to do is to contact your insurer.

What is classed as a van modification?

A lot of changes you make to your van could be classed as a modification. Whether you’re redesigning the interior, adding extra seats or tinkering under the bonnet to increase engine performance, all can change the value and power of your vehicle.

Common van modifications include:

  • Spoilers, body kits and vinyl wraps
  • Internal and/or external racking
  • Extra seats and windows
  • Alloy wheels
  • Engine and exhaust upgrades
  • Refrigeration equipment

It’s important you ask your insurer before making any kind of modification, no matter how little, to see if it will impact your premium.

Before you carry out any modifications to your van, make sure you speak to your insurer to find out if your insurance will be affected. Or, if you’re applying for van insurance quotes for an already modified vehicle, make sure these changes are clearly detailed.

Is living in a van legal?

Living in a van is legal as long as your vehicle is taxed and has passed its MOT. It will depend on where your van is parked though. There are restrictions in place for where you can park up, how long for, and whether you can stay overnight.

While there are ways to make living in a van legal, you should do some serious thinking before switching to van life full-time. You’ll need to consider the cost of modifying your van as well as fuel and parking charges.

Van driving tips

Van maintenance and safety is important to avoid invalidating your policy. Driving in an economical and safe way will keep you protected and insured, especially if you’re switching from a car to a van  for the first time.

Some important tips crossover with driving a car. It’s important you’ve got a comfortable driving position, know where the controls are for lights, windows, air-con and that your mirrors are in the right position.

Van-specific driving tips include adjusting your driving style based on the size and weight of your van. Heavier vehicles can take longer to slow down and if there isn’t a rear-view mirror, you’ll have additional blind spots.

This can make parking more challenging and the larger size of a van means you need to be more aware of roads with height and weight restrictions.

Ready to embrace van life? Make sure you have the right van insurance in place before you take to the roads. Get an online quote today.


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

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