Driver’s Van Insurance Error a Lesson, Say Police
One Derbyshire driver has been left to regret his failure to obtain any van insurance after he was stopped by Derbyshire Roads Policing who found that he was without cover and therefore illegally behind the wheel. When stopped, the driver said that he did not need van insurance cover, incorrectly believing that his fully comprehensive cover on another vehicle meant he had third-party cover for his van. However, the police informed him that this would only have been the case if another individual had been insured on the van; as such he was without any suitable third-party cover and had to face the music.
A mistake to avoid
Derbyshire police were keen to point out the van driver’s error in the hope of preventing other drivers from making the same mistake. A police tweet stated, "Tibshelf. Van is uninsured, but driver says he's fully comp on another car so he is covered third party. "Not the case as 1 - he owns the van and the car, and 2 - the van must be insured by someone else for third party cover to kick in. #seized "
Vehicle insurance is compulsory
It may be difficult for any driver to find cheap van insurance although it is particularly difficult for younger drivers and those who have previously been convicted of a road offence. However, motor insurance is mandatory for every driver and vehicle in the UK. It is easy to understand why it is a legal requirement: van insurance offers financial protection in the event of injury or damage in a road accident. The minimum level of cover is third-party insurance. However, more comprehensive levels of cover are advisable as third-party cover will only cover injuries and damage suffered by others in incidents where the policyholder is at fault. Those with the broadest and most flexible needs should consider any driver van insurance, while the owners of fleets will need fleet van insurance.
Could Football Stickers Invalidate Your Van Insurance?
The most ardent football fans in Britain could be inadvertently raising the cost of their any driver van insurance by fixing stickers of their team's crest on their vehicle.
This follows a piece of research by Auto Express that was carried out in conjunction with the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) and a motor insurance company.
The study found that stickers could count as a modification as, under many insurer’s rules, a modification is deemed to be any change that is made to a van once it has been sold by its manufacturer.
As such, failing to declare a football sticker, satnav system or any other addition to the body or interior of a van could potentially invalidate a van insurance policy. In the case of a football sticker, some insurance companies may contend that it makes the vehicle vulnerable to vandalism attacks by fans of rival football teams. Furthermore, once declared, such modifications can add to the cost of a premium by as much as £100.
However, not all football-crest-related items are considered modifications. For example, a football club air freshener – a very popular product in the UK right now – is fine so long as there is only one and it does not interfere with the driver’s view.
If in doubt, notify your insurer
If you are in doubt as to whether something counts as a modification, it is always best to check in with your insurer so that they confirm its status. This is true even in cases where a modification is for the purposes of improving safety. For example, sometimes insurance companies used to increase the cost of a premium when drivers fitted winter tyres to their vans. However, in 2011, 70 percent of insurance companies became signatory to an agreement to not increase premium prices for drivers who fitted winter tyres to their vehicles – but most still wish to be informed.
The same is true of modifications such as tow bars and roof racks; it is unlikely they will increase the cost of your premium, but your insurer is likely to want to be informed regardless.
Furthermore, it is important to inform your insurer of any of the following modifications:
- Tinted windows
- Spoilers, skirts and valances
- Extra lights
- Upgraded upholstery
- Upgraded brakes
- Stripes, decals and badges
- Replacement seats
- Turbo/supercharging engine
- Exhaust system changes
- Flared wings, bonnet bulges
- Specialised paintwork
- Roof rack
- Tow bar
- Hand controls
- Alloy wheels
- Sat nav
- Parking sensors
The theme here is clear: if in doubt about whether something constitutes a modification, let your insurer know.
Rise in the Cost of Tools Theft
Analysis by building services sector specialist ECIC has revealed that there has been a worrying rise in the economic value of tools theft from vans over the past twelve months, with the total value of such incidents up by 55% on the previous year.
What is interesting is that despite the cost of tools theft incidents rising dramatically, tools and van insurance companies are facing roughly the same number of claims as they did in the previous year.
One theory as to why this might be the case concerns the savviness of thieves; it is thought that they may have become better at identifying and targeting vans containing valuable tools.
Furthermore, it is thought that thieves have become both more brazen and more sophisticated in their tactics, with increasing numbers using the “peel and steal” method to saw vans open and steal the contents. Other popular methods include keyless entry system hacking and driver distraction techniques.
Alarmingly for drivers and their van insurance companies, ECIC says that the average value of tools theft now stands at £2,685 – a figure that outstrips the resale value of many of the vans that are targeted.
“The increase of thefts from vans and van thefts is widely recognised but showing no signs of abating. It is hugely disruptive to contractors, impacting work commitments and insurance costs,” commented a spokesperson with ECIC.
Prevention is key
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of tools theft is, of course, to remove all tools from your vehicle, storing them overnight or when you are not working. Van drivers who must take tools with them throughout their working day should ensure that they are stored inside a secure box that is fixed inside the van.
Taking such steps will not only ensure that you are less likely to be targeted by thieves, it will also help ensure that your van insurance covers you in the event that a thief succeeds in taking your tools.
Furthermore, ensure that you include goods in transit cover as part of your policy and that if you have any driver van insurance, every driver who uses the van has full training on how to keep the vehicle’s tools secure.
Green Card Likely to be Needed for EU Van Insurance in Event of No-Deal Brexit
Brexit will inevitably have some impact on van drivers and the scope of their van insurance coverage.
Mainly, the likelihood is that van drivers will lose the ability to drive freely across the borders of European Union countries, including the ability to proceed across borders without inspections.
Crucially, van drivers will need to ensure that they have international van insurance that enables them to demonstrate that they are covered by their British van insurance for the duration of their stay in an EU country. These insurance green cards are free; however, they will need to be aware of the following:
- The van insurance cover provided by the green card may not be comprehensive and it may be prudent to purchase additional short-term cover.
- The green card should be applied for well in advance – ideally at least two weeks prior to your expected travel date.
- You may be refused entry with your vehicle if you do not have a valid green card.
- You will need to apply for multiple green cards if you intend on towing a trailer or caravan on your visit to the EU.
- You will need multiple green cards if you have fleet insurance covering multiple vans.
- You will need to ensure you display a GB sticker on the rear of your van when travelling in the EU.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) view
The ABI has urged all drivers to consider that EU regulations will demand a green card as proof of motor insurance unless any Brexit deal reached specifies otherwise.
Furthermore, the ABI says that any driver who travels without a green card in these circumstances risks both breaking the law and invalidating their existing cover, even when driving across the Irish border.
The ABI’s director general, Huw Evans, said that although motor insurance companies were well prepared for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, it was incumbent upon the government to offer greater clarification and support.
“With a no-deal Brexit still on the table, we want all insurance customers to know the facts about what this means for them so that they can take the necessary action,” said Evans.
Just as UK citizens driving within the EU will require a green card in the event of a no-deal, EU citizens driving in the UK will need to ensure the same.
MOT Van Insurance Statistics Cause for Alarm
In the UK unless you have a valid MOT, your van insurance is not valid, and as such if you have an accident, your van insurance company is unlikely to pay out. In fact, being without a valid MOT certificate is illegal under Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Any driver who gets behind the wheel of their commercial vehicle faces being saddled with a £1,000 fine and a charge of six to eight penalty points on their licence.
It would be natural to think that such potential penalties and consequences would be enough to keep any driver from flouting the law regarding MOTs, yet despite this a new piece of research has revealed that every year in Britain millions of miles are driven without a valid MOT.
In fact, the statistics reveal that one in six (17 percent) have inadvertently been behind the wheel of their vehicle without a valid MOT for a week on at least once occasion during the past five years and that one in 12 (eight per cent) have driven without a valid MOT for six months or more.
Men already pay more on average for their van insurance for women, so it is unlikely to encourage insurers to hear that they are more prone than women do drive without a valid MOT (20 per cent compared to 15 per cent). Similarly, younger drivers, another group who have difficulty finding cheaper motor insurance, are considerably more likely to drive without an MOT than those who are a little older.
Furthermore, Londoners, who already pay more for their premiums on average, are most likely to have driven without a valid MOT (32 per cent), compared to 25 per cent in the North East, 20 per cent in the North West and 19 percent in Yorkshire.
There is no more important aspect to life as a motorist than keeping safe on the road. Having a valid MOT is one of the fundamental steps to ensuring this; without an MOT you can have no guarantee that your vehicle is roadworthy.
However, the drivers of commercial vehicles may sometimes be hesitant about booking themselves in for an MOT as it may interrupt their business activity for a short period. However, skipping an MOT is not only unsafe, but it is also a false economy and in the end could even prove to be a fatal blow to a business.