Police commissioner hints at new van hire regulations
The struggle of some tradespeople to find cheap van insurance helps explain why ad hoc van hiring is a surprisingly popular way to get a commercial vehicle on the road and on the job.
However, the fact that the terrorists behind the recent attacks in London used hire vans to carry out their atrocities, the second and third such instances in just three months, has called some to question the ease with which people are able to hire a van and, as a consequence, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, has suggested that new regulations might be brought in to try and reduce the possibility of such tragic events occurring.
Rental companies have already been instructed to take more care in determining exactly who is hiring larger commercial vehicles and have been told to report any suspected criminal activity to police. And now Dick has asked the London Assembly whether van hire "should be regulated in any way?"
"There's a whole big review to be done," she added. "I don't know. It might require some tweaking of legislation."
Although more stringent regulations might seem like yet another unwelcome administrative hurdle to tradespeople already struggling to find cheap van insurance, it should be noted that even if new regulations save just one life, they will have done their job, and there must surely be an intelligent way to regulate van hire that doesn't unfairly punish the operators of small businesses. Dick has recognised that more stringent regulation would be difficult to achieve but underlined her belief that doing so would involve a community effort.
The first attack in London involved the use of a Hyundai Tucson SUV, the second a Renault Masters and the third most and most recent attack, on a group of worshippers in Finsbury Park, a Citroen Relay box van.
Toby Potson, from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, told The Times newspaper that although his members uphold a "long-established set of protocols to enable the efficient reporting of any suspicious activity" and often do this with the added support of specialist security managers, he would seek to explore additional ways to "share information more effectively with law enforcement organisations."
Whatever the case, it is likely that added regulations will only serve to make cheap van insurance that little bit more attractive, when it can be found, of course.
Van thief takes owner for bonnet ride
Footage has been released of a any driver van insurance policyholder from Slough being given the (unwanted) ride of his life by a bold and opportunistic thief.
The 34-year-old delivery driver was briefly stopping on his rounds to make a delivery when the thief saw his moment, got in to the commercial vehicle, and attempted to make his escape.
However, he clearly did not bargain for the bold, bravery or, as some might have it, foolhardiness of the driver, who, in attempting to stop the thief, mounted the bonnet of the van even as the thief accelerated away with gob-stopping recklessness.
The thief continued to drive at dangerous speed before making a U-turn and braking in a successful attempt to shake off the owner who, remarkably, manages to land on his feet before frantically trying to flag down a passing car in an attempt to then follow his stolen van.
However, no one stopped for the dispossessed van owner, but fortunately, and thanks to the on-board any driver van insurance GPS equipment, the van was found later that day, as was the thief who has since been sentenced to six years in prison for his crime.
"Thankfully the victim escaped with extensive bruising, but it is not difficult to imagine what could have happened if he had fallen off in front of the van, or into the path of another vehicle," commented an officer with Surrey Police.
It is now known what the thief's defence for the crime was. It is possible to imagine that he might have claimed he misunderstood the meaning of any driver van insurance, but whatever the case, his most recent ride is as a passenger in a police van.
What does the Ultra Low Emission Zone mean for small businesses?
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has revealed his plans for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which will require heavy diesel vehicles to pay a daily charge if they wish to drive in central London.
Under the ULEZ's rules, diesel vans, cars, and motorbikes that don't meet the Euro 6 environmental standard will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 to enter the zone. The same charge applies to petrol vehicles that don't meet the Euro 4 standards. Meanwhile, HGVs, buses, and coaches that don't meet the standards will be required to pay a fee of £100 per day. Keep in mind that these charges are on top of the congestion charge – which is £11.50.
The zone is planned to come into force on April 8, 2019. Starting in central London (the same area as the existing Congestion Charge zone), the ULEZ's scope is set to then widen across Greater London in 2020 and then to the North and South circular roads in 2021.
Air pollution in London has always been a major problem. Within the first five days of 2017, the city managed to breach its annual air pollution limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is mainly produced by diesel vehicles. "The air in London is lethal and I will not stand by and do nothing," Khan has said.
And while it's clearly important that all necessary measures for improving the capital's air quality are taken, there have been some concerns over what the ULEZ could mean for small businesses who rely on such vehicles to operate. Some think that Khan has given SMEs a nearly impossibly short time frame to adapt their fleets to the new system, and the cost of the transition may be too much for some businesses.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA), which represents the views of companies in the transport industry, has described the plans as "troubling" for small businesses operating in London. Natalie Chapman, FTA's head of policy for London and the south-east, said that the plans would "seriously disadvantage" companies, particularly van drivers, as it would impose unnecessary and "potentially crippling" costs on them as they try to make sure their fleets are compliant within a very short time frame.
Because of this issue, the FTA is advocating for van drivers to have a sunset period, similar to the three-year period that has already been offered to private residents living in the ULEZ, allowing them to have a discount on the fee. This would give them more time to ensure their fleets fit within the ULEZ's standards.
Chapman also voiced her support for the diesel scrappage scheme that the mayor has previously called for. The scheme will see drivers paid up to £3,500 so that they can scrap their existing diesel vehicles and replace them with more environmentally-friendly motors. Such a scheme would help relieve the financial burden on small businesses.
"At a time when London's businesses face an increasingly challenging trading environment, the mayor should be taking every possible step to help the capital's small businesses," Chapman said.
Coping with costs is always going to be a big worry for SMEs. The FTA has promised to continue exerting pressure on the mayor to consider the van drivers most affected by the ULEZ so that they're not faced with unrealistic costs.
iVan may also be able to help your enterprise by offering you a quote for cheap van insurance. Get a quote today.
Finding cheap van insurance is getting tougher
If your business relies in some way on your van, whether you're a sole trader or responsible for a whole fleet of vehicles, it's important to make sure you get the right insurance.
It's an unfortunate fact that insurance is on the rise for all road users. There are two main reasons behind this. One is the government's decision to cut the discount (Ogden) rate from 2.5% to 0.75%. What this means is that insurers now have to pay more compensation to victims of serious road accidents than previously, and higher value compensation claims mean higher premiums.
The second is the rise in insurance premium tax (IPT). IPT has been on a steady climb recently, doubling from 6% to 12% since 2015. These two factors combined have meant car insurance has hit a record high, rising 11% over the past year, as has been confirmed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
However, what's bad news for car users is even worse for van drivers. Consumer Intelligence has released its latest quarterly van insurance index, which has shown that the government's recent changes have led to a staggering 29.5% rise in annual premiums – that's two and a half times more than the average for car drivers, making the average premium for a van driver £1,636.
As John Blevins, the pricing expert from Consumer Intelligence explains, "before the Odgen rules came into effect in March, prices were rising by around 1% a month and then rocketed by 11.4% in April with the Insurance Premium Tax rise in June adding another 2%".
But why is this? Well, according to Consumer Intelligence, premiums are more expensive for vans than they are for cars because the costs of claims tend to be a lot higher. Payouts involving vans will usually have to cover any lost business the driver has experienced because they haven't been able to use their vehicle. And, vans tend to be more technologically advanced than cars so they're more expensive to fix.
But despite the rising costs of insurance, making sure your business is equipped with the right form of cover is an essential step. Choosing a lower level of cover that doesn't protect you adequately in order to save a small amount of money can be a false economy, because if an unfortunate event does happen and you don't have the appropriate insurance it could end up costing you a lot more.
There is also an upside, news that should help tradesmen feel a little bit better; drivers who have "carriage of own goods" policies, which are usually held by those who use their van for work, will generally have lower premiums than those who use it for a hobby or as a domestic vehicle. This is because, as their livelihood partly depends on their vehicle, drivers using a van for business are more likely to take care of it and are therefore seen as less of a risk. That's why if you only use your van strictly for work, you must make sure you choose the right form of cover – you could save yourself some cash.
Of course, with motor insurance set to hit a record high, any help finding cheap van insurance quotes is likely to be welcomed by all van drivers. iVan wants to help all van drivers find the best value quotes available without minimising on quality.
By getting a quote with iVan, you can be sure that you'll be getting comprehensive cover at the best possible price. Some of our customers have saved as much as 30% on the cost of their cover.
Nissan installs new driver-monitoring tech in its vans
Nissan Europe is teaming up with Telogis, a Verizon-owned company providing software for fleet management, to create a new service that utilises telematics technology for their commercial customers.
The new service is called NissanConnect and will enable fleet operators to view and analyse their drivers' data by connecting the vehicle to the Telogis' Mobile Resource Management software platform. Viewing this data will then hopefully allow operators to make better informed business decisions
The use of telematics is often implemented as a way of monitoring how well the vehicle has been driven as well as tracking its location. For these reasons, insurance providers tend to market it as a cost-effective solution for drivers, especially young drivers, who want to reduce the price of their premium by proving that they're a responsible driver.
Nissan are hoping that the new service, NissanConnect, will encourage van drivers to remain diligent over their fuel consumption and improve the efficiency of their service. The motoring giant is hoping that this will allow them to keep up with the consumer's ever-increasing demand for a fast, quality delivery service, as well as adapting to vehicle restrictions introduced by major cities. Now that HGVs are increasingly banned from city centres, there is a need for systems which use light commercial vehicles in the most resourceful ways possible.
Phillipe Guerin-Boutard, the corporate vice president for Nissan's Global LCV Business Unit, commented on the benefits he hopes the changes will bring. "The time has come for Nissan commercial customers to benefit from the visibility and operational intelligence they gain from connecting their business. From empowering workers on the road and In the field to help them be safer and more efficient, to optimising daily delivery routes, NissanConnect Fleet will have a transformational effect on the way Nissan customers do business.
The service is expected to launch in Europe at some point this autumn. The van models that will support NissanConnect will be the Navara One Ton pick-up, NV200, e-NV200, and NT400 Cabstar. More vehicles are planned to join the scheme later.
Could services such as NissanConnect become as essential for fleet operators as having reliable commercial van insurance? It will be interesting to see how effective the telematics technology is for commercial vehicles. In the meantime, make sure your fleet of commercial vehicles is properly protected on the road by getting a quote with iVan today.