Need for Multi-driver Policy to Soon be in the Past?
When you consider that more than 90 per cent of road accidents are caused by driver error, it becomes easier to understand why finding cheap multi-driver van insurance can sometimes seem so difficult, usually requiring a trawl of multiple internet van insurance comparison sites using the search terms "multi-driver van insurance".
However, things are changing, both in the commercial vehicle insurance landscape and in the wider world of vans, with autonomous vehicles looking like an increasingly inevitable feature of the future. This is not to say they are just around the corner; there are still insurance liability and technological issues to be worked through, but there is now little doubt that within the next decade fleet managers will at least have the option of autonomous commercial vehicles.
But that isn't necessarily a good thing. Sure, fleet managers and business owners might be freed from their multi-driver van insurance obligations, but will the autonomous alternative actually be any cheaper and will driverless vehicles fulfil the remit required? This, of course, remains to be seen.
Perhaps fleet managers will no longer even have their own vans. Perhaps the whole ownership model will be different. Perhaps large companies will have huge fleets of autonomous commercial vehicles for hire, and when business owners need them they will simply call them in a similar way to how Joe Public does today when he wants to order a taxi or Uber. Connectivity options may also allow business owners to pool their needs so that they can share services with other owners. Much in the same way we speculate that costs could go up, they could also go down and it is almost impossible to predict how this future will pan out.
Cyber security is another unknown and as such is a potential area of concern. If vehicles can be hacked the scope for sabotage, accidents and other misfortunes is vast, particularly if systems are, as is likely to be the case, interconnected. In some extreme projections, it is possible to imagine business rivals effectively engaging in cyber warfare in order to bring down the competition.
Of course, before we even reach this stage it is necessary to first negotiate the myriad of safety, regulatory and insurance issues regarding autonomous vehicles. There are certainly interesting times ahead.
A Gentle Reminder to Check Your Documents
Have you ever thought that you are receiving surprisingly perhaps even astoundingly low cost van insurance? Unfortunately, just like many other things that appear too good to be true, ridiculously low cost van insurance can sometimes be deceptive.
This was the case recently for a 28-year-old Scottish man who took his partner's Nissan van out to run some errands only to be stopped by police and informed that he was driving without insurance.
However, the man was stunned, adamant that he was a named driver on his partner's policy and was therefore driving perfectly within the law. Police double-checked the insurance details of the vehicle and informed the man that unfortunately he was mistaken: only one driver was legally entitled to be driving the van, and that driver was not him.
As such, the man had to appear before a court where, despite claiming that his partner had told the insurance company to include him on the policy, he received a £500 fine and five penalty points on his driving license, which brought the total number on his licence to 11.
It seems that the man might have been telling the truth when he claimed that he thought he was not doing anything illegal; it turns out that he was a named driver on one of his partner's low cost van insurance policies, only it was a different van altogether – a Ford Transit Van.
"There was some uncertainty as to whether he had been added to that policy," said a police spokesperson. "It's fair to say the insurance company has a different version of the conversation they had to [the driver's] version."
"He would say there was a misunderstanding. His partner owns a Ford Transit van, which is insured for him. He has stated it was not deliberate flouting, if he wished to drive he would have driven the van. He would say it was a misunderstanding as to whether he had been added to the policy."
However true the driver's story in the case described above, the incident should be a reminder to all of us not to make certain assumptions without first checking all the relevant documentation.
Sure, low cost van insurance policies are not everyone's favoured reading material, but it does only take a few minutes to verify that you have been included on a policy. Doing so can save you a fine, penalty points and a bill for prosecution costs.
Which roads are Britain's most dangerous?
UK roads can be a nightmare – as a tradesperson whose business relies on their van, we're sure you know what we mean.
Many businesses are built around vans, and all van drivers will no doubt understand the importance of safe driving. But tradespeople are also very busy and will often be rushing around to get to their next job, meaning they'll always be on the lookout for the fastest route.
However, some roads pose more of a danger than others and even the safest of van drivers often think twice before using them.
A new study from the European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP) evaluated motorways and A roads outside of urban areas to find out which ones posed the highest overall risk to drivers.
The most dangerous road was found to be the A537 between Macclesfield and Buxton in the Peak District (named the Cat and Fiddle after the inn located at its summit). Popular with motorcyclists, the road is known for its many bends, which increase the likelihood of users being involved in serious and fatal accidents.
The list was decided based on the level of road safety improvement (or lack thereof) between 2010-2012 and 2013-2015. The roads were ranked on the frequency of accidents, their severity, and the cost of the accidents. The roads that the EuroRAP categorised as "persistently higher risk" were the ones that were very busy and where the rates of serious crashes were "little improved or worsening".
Similar routes that were judged to be dangerous were the A254 between Ramsgate and Margate, the A259 from Glyne Gap to Ore, and the A588 from Lancaster to the A585 junction outside Poulton-le-Fylde.
Previously, it was thought that the North and the Midlands had the most dangerous roads, but this new research has suggested that, despite the most dangerous road still being located in the North West, the South East of England is now the riskiest place in England to drive, featuring six of the ten most dangerous carriageways. South Glamorgan was considered the most dangerous county to travel in, with the highest cost of crashes totalling at £105 million in 2010-2012 and £115 million in 2013-2015.
It's not all bad news, however, The report also shone a light on the roads that showed the most improvement within the same time period. These included the A4151 in Gloucestershire from Nailbridge to the junction with the A48 as well as the M25, which had an impressive 73 per cent improvement from 2010-12 to 2013-15.
There are other roads that van drivers would rather steer clear of, as highlighted by a similar survey by Leasevan.co.uk, which found that most drivers wished to avoid the Snake Pass road in the Derbyshire area of the Peak District, which is known as an accident blackspot. The A285 from Chichester to Petworth was another unpopular route (and has been previously named Britain's most dangerous road by the Road Safety Foundation).
A spokesperson from Leasevan said, "Tradesmen don't have a lot of time to spare when they're on the road, but it seems there are some routes they really do dislike having to travel. Sometimes it makes sense to avoid a road if there’s an alternative route that has less traffic or fewer hazards. At the same time, speed is a common factor in road accidents, so driving carefully and not too fast mitigates a lot of the dangers".
Road accidents are a big problem in the UK, costing the country £36 billion each year – that accounts for 1.2 per cent of the UK's GDP. This means that road accidents cost the economy more than GP services and primary schools combined! It's such a big problem that the UK government has allocated £175 million to the Safer Roads Fund to carry out road safety engineering treatments on the most dangerous roads.
Accidents can be particularly problematic for van drivers because their livelihood is often dependent on their vehicle. Collisions can have severe consequences for them and their business, causing massive disruption.
Of course, whether the statistics say you're on the most dangerous road in the country or the safest, good driving will help ensure you won't be involved in an accident.
And in case you are ever involved in an accident, being equipped with quality any driver van insurance from iVan should help ensure that the disruption to your business will be minimal.
Van Thieves Using Sophisticated Technology to Target Fords
Every and any van driver with van insurance cover should be aware that van thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way they target and steal vans.
This revelation comes as a result of a BBC investigation detailing the theft of 14 Ford Transit vans in Lincolnshire by gangs who are using cutting edge equipment to breach the security systems of vans in order to obtain parts and tools.
Experts say that the thieves are using imitations of the sophisticated hacking systems utilised by locksmiths so that they can easily unlock vans, start engines and make an escape.
Lincolnshire Police report that they have liaised with van manufacturer Ford and have subsequently posted details to their website outlining what van drivers can do to help prevent thefts.
"You can get new alarms fitted linked to your phone, or CCTV," said a police spokesperson. "It's about vigilance and improving your own security whenever possible. It's a difficult one. The public has to be vigilant. If they own a Transit van, it's what they can do to help themselves. If anyone is acting suspicious around you."
However, Lincolnshire Police conceded that the spate of high-tech van thefts was "worrying" and indicated that although "in an ideal world, we want to catch these people", they were currently unable to stop the thefts from happening.
Furthermore, local locksmiths admitted that the technologies they use professionally have been misappropriated by the thieves and that there was little they could do to try and counter the thefts.
One man told the BBC that he has been left angry and unable to sleep following the theft of £3,000 worth of tools from his van in October of last year. He also said that he had had difficulty in getting his any driver van insurance provider to pay out for the theft and had to use his credit card in order to buy replacements for the stolen tools.
Ford has said that it is "constantly learning more about theft techniques" and was taking the situation very seriously.
Forget White Van Man, its Rainbow Van Everyone
2017 has been a year of change in the way we perceive gender and gender relations and this has been no different in the area of commercial vehicles.
For a long time, there was a very set image of what constituted a van driver; "white van man" was just that, a balding, slightly overweight, St George-flag waving, pie-eating, Sun-reading white man.
However, as many a fleet van insurance manager may have told you, even ten years ago, things are changing (although it's doubtful things ever really did adhere to the stereotype).
Whether drivers are private policyholders or they drive under the protection of larger fleet van insurance policies, the truth is that they are from all walks of life. They can be black or white, male or female, vegan or sworn carnivores, tabloid-reading or broadsheet-reading; in fact, the broadsheet is now the newspaper of choice for most van drivers.
So it should come as no surprise that Auto Trader recently carried out a piece of research and found that women account for 32 percent of van owners. Often they are working as tradespeople, sometimes they are simply driving vans for the sake of personal practicality and other times they are driving vans because they serve their hobbies well – for example, windsurfing or dog-walking. In some cases, they may actually own one van for personal use but drive another under the protection of fleet van insurance as part of their job.
All in, according to Auto Trader around 1.4 million British households own a van, with around 40 percent of these used for both work and personal use. Furthermore, 37 percent of these vans are in the hands of "middle-class" owners, meaning that there is every bit as much chance of vehicle cabs being covered with quinoa grains as pork pie pastry crumbs.
"Our study shows a revival for the van community which celebrates van drivers of all backgrounds, genders and ages," commented Auto Trader editorial director Erin Baker.
"The van has many benefits beyond couriering work equipment, and now with modern interiors, better technology and connectivity and an overall driving experience that's becoming more comfortable, car buyers are increasingly turning to the van when it comes to considering a vehicle that meets their occupational and lifestyle needs in equal measure."
And, it is not just fleet van insurance policyholders and leisure users who are behind what Auto Trader reports as an increase of 4.4 percent in van purchases between July and September 2017; the UK housing crisis is also a factor. An unspecified number of people are turning to vans as a means of accommodation, both temporary and permanent, with many vans being specially adapted into mobile homes.
2017 has been the year of vans being all things for all people.