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Cheap van insurance

The Honest John Vans insurance guide has everything you need to know about commercial vehicle insurance and how you can benefit from cheap van insurance. From cutting the cost of cover, to ensuring you have the right type of policy for your business needs, our step-by-step guide will take you through the entire process of getting van insurance.

We'll also tell you what to do if you have to make a claim and which pitfalls to lookout for, so you’re not left out of pocket should the worse happen. 

Insurance Costs: Does age & postcode make a difference?

Our regular round-up of van insurance quotes shows the impact that your age and postcode has on a policy. It's designed to highlight trends in the market and give you a steer as to whom may be offering decent deals and where you may be able to get cheap van insurance from.

We've kept the van the same throughout, but changed a few other variables to reflect what we'd expect from each of the age brackets - i.e being single or married and the type of work they may be doing.

Moneysupermarket Copy (1)

We have used MoneySupermarket* to compile these insurance quote examples.

It has a wide coverage of the market and is regularly rated as being cheapest.

Others include: confused.comcomparethemarket.com and gocompare.com.

What did we find?

Of course this only applies to the quotes we have conducted and this may not apply to your own circumstances, but we have found that 18 year olds continue to get a raw deal, with an apprentice builder being quoted a minimum of £3700 for a 12 month comprehensive policy on a four-year-old Ford Transit Custom panel van.

In our basket of popular insurers, Churchill and More Than - two household names - were incredibly uncompetitive and were not once a best buy. All of Churchill's quotes for a city-based 25-year-old builder being in excess of £3200 for a panel van worth £10,000. At the other end of the age brackets, there's very little difference in policy cost between the 35 and 45 year olds, with some insurers quoting identical amounts regardless of single or married status. 

Cheapest van insurers we found for an 18 year old

Assumptions: Ford Transit Custom 2.2-litre manual, worth £10,000, single, licence held for one year, apprentice builder covering 20,000 miles a year with no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £300 excess.

Rural postcode

 

Admiral

 

Admiral Little Box 260215 (1)

£3734*

 

Gladiator

 

Carrot _100x 30

£3809*

City Insurance

City (8)

£13,946*

 

Town postcode

Admiral

Default -common -admiralgraphicsmall

£5218*

 

Gladiator

 

Download (1)

£5322*

City Insurance 

Default -common -citygraphicsmall

£14,577*

 

City postcode

Admiral

Carrot _100x 30

£5365*

Gladiator

Download (2)

£5473*

City
Insurance

Elephlogo

£20,253*

Cheapest van insurers we found for a 25 year old

Assumptions: Ford Transit Custom 2.2-litre manual, worth £10,000, single, licence held for five years, builder covering 20,000 miles a year with no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £300 excess.

Rural postcode

 

Hastings Direct

 

423

£1049*

 

One Call Insurance

 

Df 6b 078068aeec 5465f 5b 294fdb 871de (3)

£1069*

 

Nova Insurance

 

Nova insurance

£2460*

 

Town postcode

One Call Insurance

one call

£1118*

Complete Van Cover 

More -than -logo (1)

£1131*

Nova Insurance

Download (9)

£1183*

 

City postcode

Complete Van Cover

Complete

£1234*

BG Insurance

BG Insurance (4)

£1593

Hastings Direct

Hastings

£1602*

 

Van insurance quotes by popular insurers

 

 More Than

Be Wiser

Churchill

 Admiral

 Hastings

Rural postcode

 £1375*

 £1588*

 £2149*

 £1785*

 £1049*

Town postcode

 £1333*

 £1546*

 £1673*

 £2154*

 £1368*

City postcode

 £2061*

 £1979*

 £3234*

 £2216*

 £1602

Cheapest van insurers we found for a 35 year old

Assumptions: Ford Transit Custom 2.2-litre manual, worth £10,000, single, licence held for 15 years, apprentice builder covering 20,000 miles a year with no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £300 excess.

Rural postcode

 

City Insurance

 

City

£539*

 

Van Quote Direct

 

Van Quote 2 (1)

£582*

 

One Call Insurance

 

One Call

£633*

 

Town postcode

City Insurance

City (1)

£539*

 

Autonet

 

Auto

£555*

Van Quote Direct

Van Quote 2 (2)

£568*

 

City postcode

Hastings Direct

Hastings

£706*

BG Insurance

BG Insurance (6)

£805*

Van Quote Direct

Van Quote 2

£891*

 

Van insurance quotes by popular insurers

 

 More Than

Be Wiser

Admiral

 Churchill

 Hastings

Rural postcode

 £774*

 £777*

 £812*

 Did not quote

 £693*

Town postcode

 £750*

 £768*

 £980*

 £799*

 £598*

City postcode

 £1121*

 £1020*

 £1008*

 £1008*

 £706*

Cheapest van insurers we found for a 45 year old

Assumptions: Ford Transit Custom 2.2-litre manual, worth £10,000, single, licence held for 20 years, builder covering 20,000 miles a year with no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £300 excess.

Rural postcode

 

 

Autonet

 


Auto (1)

£529*

 

BG Insurance

 


BG Insurance (9)

£537*

One Call Insurance


One Call (2)

£538*

 

Town postcode

City Insurance

City (2)

£539*

 

One Call

 

One Call (1)

£548*

BG Insurance

BG Insurance (7)

£551*

 

City postcode

Hastings Direct

Hastings (1)

£599*

BG Insurance

BG Insurance (8)

£683*

City Insurance

City (3)

£708*

 

Van insurance quotes by popular insurers

 

 More Than

Be Wiser

Admiral

 Churchill

 Hastings

Rural postcode

 £665*

 £666*

 £759*

 £826*

 £571*

Town postcode

 £688*

 £679*

 £812*

 £874*

 £562*

City postcode

 £977*

 £823*

 £1008*

 £1315*

 £599*

Cheapest van insurers we found for a 55 year old

Assumptions: Ford Transit Custom 2.2-litre manual, worth £10,000, married, licence held for 30 years, builder covering 20,000 miles a year with no convictions or accidents. Looking for comprehensive insurance with £300 excess.

Rural postcode

 

 

One Call Insurance

 

One Call (3)

£431*

 

Autonet

 


Auto (2)

£483*

City Insurance


City (4)

£487*

 

Town postcode

Hastings Direct

Hastings (3)

£444*

One Call Insurance

One Call (4)

£452*

City Insurance

City (7)

£507*

 

City postcode

Hastings Direct

Hastings (2)

£515*

Autonet

Auto (3)

£583*

City Insurance

City (5)

£604*

 

Van insurance quotes by popular insurers

 

More Than

Be Wiser

Admiral

 Churchill

 Hastings

Rural postcode

 £650*

 £587*

 £667*

 £786*

 £502*

Town postcode

 £629*

 £608*

 £805*

 £611*

 £444*

City postcode

 £910*

 £714*

 *

 £1182*

 £515*

Search van insurance groups

This tool enables you to find and compare van insurance groups for every model on sale in the UK. To get started simply pick a manufacturer from the list below. 

Please note that insurance group ratings are purely advisory. They are used by many insurers as just one of the many input factors in calculating premiums. As such, insurance groups can provide a useful indicator of the likely relative cost of insuring a particular vehicle. Insurers are not required to follow the advisory group ratings and the full cost of insurance will depend entirely on the age, profession and status of the policy holder.

   

What are van insurance groups exactly?

The lower the number, the cheaper the insurance. Both vans and cars used to be graded on a one to 20 insurance group system. This changed to one to 50 for cars in 2009, to make the ratings more accurate, and Thatcham and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) – the bodies responsible for UK vehicle insurance groups – introduced a new 21 to 50 system for vans in 2016.

This accounts for elements that were not covered by the old regime, so it’s a more accurate, detailed and up-to-date way of classifying vans for insurance purposes.

Why did the system change?

According to Thatcham, the old one to 20 system was introduced over 20 years prior to 2016, and hadn’t been updated for more than 10 years, so Thatcham and the ABI reviewed the old formula and settled on some relevant changes. The new version favours vehicles that have been fitted with modern safety systems such as autonomous emergency braking, are cheap to fix and are easy to repair.   

What exactly does the new van insurance group system cover?

Insurance authorities didn’t throw away the rulebook when they introduced the latest ratings, as they still cover lots of different factors, such as the vehicle’s price and the cost of repairs. However, the current system also includes the following aspects:

  • Autonomous emergency braking systems
  • The shape of the van’s bumper
  • Updated parts and repair costs, including a “cost-based measure of damageability and reparability”
  • A greater emphasis on the van’s performance and its Gross Vehicle Weight (the total weight of the van and a trailer when you’re towing)
  • The van’s size and shape
  • A simpler assessment of the van’s security systems (locks, immobilisers etc)

The groups have letters as well as numbers. What do they mean?

The letter that succeeds the insurance group number – for example, 35E – is called a suffix. It’s the same for cars, and denotes the level of security equipment fitted to the vehicle as standard. Here’s what the letters mean:

  • A: Meets Thatcham’s security requirement for the group
  • D: Does not meet the security requirement for the group, so the rating (i.e. the number) has been increased. For example, a van in group 35 that didn’t meet Thatcham’s standards may increase to 36D
  • E: Exceeds the requirements for the group, so the rating has been reduced. A van in group 35 may become 34E
  • P: Provisional, which means data for the group rating wasn’t available when the van was launched
  • U: Unacceptable, meaning the security gear is well below par and some insurers might insist that the security equipment is upgraded before they’ll provide cover
  • G: Import, which denotes a vehicle that wasn’t originally sold in the UK

Has every new van been rated on the new system? 

Most new vans have a modern 21 to 50 insurance group, but not all of them appear on the current system. Many vehicles still have an old one to 20 insurance group, which can make things confusing. 

Looking to save on van insurance?

We all worry about the rising cost of van insurance, but with a little help you'll find that there are plenty of simple ways to make savings.

That's why we have scoured the industry to find the best money-saving deals. Check our top 10 to see how you could save hundreds off your next insurance renewal.

1Never accept an auto-renew quote

Never accept an auto-renew quote

The first rule to saving money on van insurance is to never accept the auto-renewal quote. On the face of it, the insurer will look like they’re doing you a favour by automatically renewing your policy, but stop and think – who is this really benefitting? 

In our experience, auto-renew quotes are much more expensive and include a fee for the privilege. Don’t get sucked in. Instead, add your insurance renewal date to your diary and tell your insurer, in advance, that you will not be automatically renewing the policy. You can always approach them later on with the lowest quote you’ve found to see if they'll match it.

2Shop around

Shop around 

It has never been easier to shop around for van insurance, thanks to comparison websites. Simply log on, fill in some simple details about you and your vehicle and the site will give quotes from dozens of different insurers.

3Downsize your van

Downsize your van

Does your van reflect your everyday work? Is it usually half empty or do you fill it to the brim on a weekly basis? Smaller vans cost less to insure and to run, especially for younger drivers. If you find that your van isn't being used to its most then it might be time to re-evaluate the long term ownership of your van and think about downsizing. It'll save you a packet over the long run. 

4Use a broker

Use a broker 

It can sometimes work to your advantage to have a middle man - a broker. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association is yet another comparison site - but one with a difference. Instead of compiling prices from insurers, they find the nearest brokers to you in order to get the cheapest quote they can.

5Improve your van’s security

Improve your van’s security

Alarm, immobiliser, steering wheel lock and a tracker can all lower your insurance. You can also make savings by getting security etching and ensuring your vehicle is parked on your driveway or garage overnight. 

Top 10 products to improve your van's security

6Ensure that your tools are covered

Are your tools covered? 

It can be very tempting to accept the cheapest quote and forget about contents cover; however, the misery and cost will be immeasurable if you lose all of your tools and have nothing to replace them with. Sit down and work out how much your tools are worth and ensure they’re added to the policy.

7Use your van to advertise your business

Use your van to advertise your business

Vans that are easily identifiable are generally avoided by thieves. As a result, vehicles with a business name on the side are less likely to be stolen because it poses more hassle - and cost - for the criminal to hide or cover it. 

8Be careful who you add to the policy

Be careful who you add to the policy

Younger drivers, like an apprentice, will usually ramp up the cost of the policy. Likewise, a driver with points or a history of irresponsible driving will also increase the price of cover. Work out who really needs to drive your van and (if you have more than one vehicle) use a specialist insurer to ensure you pay for comprehensive cover to protect both your workforce and your vehicles. 

9Haggle

Haggle

So you've searched the web, found the lowest quote and ensured they'll cover all of your tools. Why not pick up the phone and give the firm with the cheapest quote a call? You might be able to haggle a discount, or get a better policy altogether. Don’t accept their first offer. Instead, challenge their quote with other prices you’ve found. 

10Be honest

Be honest

Always be honest. Don't bend the truth and tell the insurer that your van will be stored on your parents’ leafy gated driveway if in reality it'll be outside your flat in the city centre. Likewise, be upfront about your mileage and the value of your vehicle. Remember, insurers base their quotation on what you tell them and reserve the right to cancel your policy or refuse a claim if you have given false information. 

What is van insurance excess? 

Excess is the first part of the claim you have agreed to pay. This should only be applied to claims on your own vehicles and not claims against you. These come under the following titles.

Statutory or Compulsory Excess

This is the lowest excess on your policy you can pay. It forms the basis of how the insurer underwrites the policy so the higher this excess, the higher the risk they attach to it.

Voluntary Excess

This is the amount you have volunteered to pay in addition to the compulsory excess, so the two are added together.

The higher the voluntary excess, the lower the premium will be. Make sure you can afford to pay it in the event of a claim because this will automatically be removed from the financial settlement you receive from your insurer. 

Young Driver Excess

If you are a young driver (someone under-25) you may well find this excess applied. This also is added to the Compulsory Excess. Check the policy, as your insurer may advise they add all three together.

In addition, there are products available you can use to 'insure' your excess, that way you do not have to pay it if you have an accident. You can also get a lower premium by having a higher excess, saving many hundreds of pounds, so it makes sense to insure it.

Top 10 lowest insurance group pick-ups

 1) Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara - Group 35E

The cheapest pick-up to insure is the Nissan Navara, which starts at group 35E in either basic Visia or Acenta specification. You’re not limited on body style if you want the lowest group either, as the same applies to both the double cab or the extended pick-up body style.

Click here to see how much it could cost you

 2) Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger - 37E

Despite the all-American gas-guzzling image, the Ford Ranger is the second cheapest pick-up to insure in the UK, if you go for the 130PS 2.2 TDCi version in regular cab guise and XL trim. 

Click here to see how much it could cost you 

 3) Ssang Yong Musso

Ssangyong Musso – Group 37A

Ssangyong is building its reputation on great value, well-equipped vehicles and the Musso pick-up is no exception. The best bit, in insurance terms, is that every variant falls into the same 37A group, regardless of whether you go for a manual, an automatic or SE or EX trim level

Click here to see how much it could cost you

See which other models complete this Top 10 list

Making a claim

What happens if you have an accident, want to claim on your car insurance or have a problem to resolve?

1What to do if you have an accident

What to do if you have an accident

If your van has been involved in an accident with another vehicle then it's vital that you stop - failure to do so is an offence under the Road Traffic Act and leaves you liable for prosecution. 

Switch off the engine, turn on the van's hazard warning lights and check that your passengers and the people in the other vehicle(s) are okay. If anyone is hurt or trapped, ring the emergency services immediately.

If safe to do so, get yourself to a place of safety. If you're on a motorway or dual carriageway, get out of your van and either get behind the barriers or up the embankment. If your van is in a dangerous position, or if there is any debris in the road, ring the emergency services. Be sure to tell them if your van is carrying anything hazardous, like gas canisters. 

What if someone is injured?

If you are hurt and think you have back or neck injuries the emergency services may suggest that you do not get out of your van; however if the vehicle is in a dangerous position - on a blind bend or on a fast flowing road - you may need to reconsider this.

Do not admit liability or say it was your fault.  Also request their insurance details

If you have a hi-vis jacket, put it on. Likewise, if you have warning triangle in your van, place it at least 45 metres down the road to warn other road users. If possible, photograph your van and the vehicle(s) involved in the accident. Take as many photos as possible with the vehicles in situ, do not move the vehicles if you can avoid it.

When taking pictures, stand back to give a perspective of road layout and distance relative to both vehicles. This way insurers can see exactly what part of each vehicle has hit each other. This is very important and greatly aids your insurer to work out what has gone on.

What about liability?

Do not admit liability or say it was your fault. Obtain the other parties details: get their name, address, phone number, vehicle registration and insurance provider. Make a note of how many occupants are in their vehicle, also note the make, model and colour of the vehicle. 

For peace of mind, (politely) ask for proof of identity, so you know the information is not false. You are entitled to do this as a refusal to give insurance information is a criminal offence under Section 154 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. So if they refuse at the scene, ring the police.

Look for any witnesses and get their details. Also look to see if any cameras are around. If possible photograph the driver and occupants - there is no law against this. If you feel comfortable doing this, it is up to you, but it can be of massive benefit in stopping fraudulent claims against you.

Insurers often find that the people who object the most have something to hide. If someone in any way gets aggressive towards you when you request their details, ring the police and advise them you have had an accident and feel intimidated by the other party. They will attend. If the other party leaves the scene without stopping, contact the police immediately.

2How to claim from your insurer

How to claim from your insurer

When you claim through your insurer, you are bound by the terms and conditions of the contract you have entered into. The contract of insurance is there to indemnify you, this means you should be put back into the same material position you were in prior to the loss occurring. You should be in a no better or worse situation.

The original premise of insurance was to provide 'pecuniary compensation' in other word financial monies, for the loss that occurred. Insurers have now manipulated this under the guise of customer service by offering to repair your car, when what they are actually doing is saving themselves money.

On the one hand you may get your car repaired fantastically well as approved repairers have had to jump through many hoops to attain the British Standard most insurers require. Though you do need to be aware that this standard approves the use of second-hand and non-original parts in the repair of your van.

It is very important you read the contract of insurance along with the terms and conditions of that contract prior to making a claim

An insurer will provide indemnity by either repairing your van, providing a cash settlement at the cost of repair (this is not necessarily what it would cost them to repair your car) or dealing with your vehicle as a total loss.

It is very important you read the contract of insurance along with the terms and conditions of that contract prior to making a claim.

You might find clauses you were not aware of. For example, a lower level of glass cover for your windscreen should you have it replaced somewhere other than the insurer's choice of supplier. This can be very important on modern van where advanced driver assistance systems, like adaptive cruise control or automatic city braking, are fitted.

The insurer may try to add an additional excess should you wish to have your van repaired at your own choice of repairer. You can have your vehicle repaired wherever you wish, but insurers try to restrict this.

3What to do if you have an accident abroad

What to do if you have an accident abroad

Before you go

You can protect yourself against the risk of receiving less compensation when you have an accident abroad by purchasing additional insurance cover.

It is important that you contact your insurer regarding the need for additional insurance cover for your travel. The insurer will then advise you which additional insurance cover would be best for meeting your needs.

If you have an accident abroad, the law of the country in which the accident happens applies. Your claim for compensation (property damage and personal injury) may therefore be submitted and handled differently to how it would be in your country of residence.

The time limit to submit your claim may be different from the one in your country of residence. It is therefore important that you submit your claim as soon as possible

If you have an accident in Europe, you can use the system set out in the European Motor Insurance Directive to ensure quick settlement of your claim. This applies to the European Economic Area (the EU member states, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland.

If the insurer falls outside the scope of the Directive, your claim may have to be made directly to the foreign insurer.

If your van is involved in an accident abroad for which the driver is being held responsible, the victim can pursue a claim for injury or damage through the Green Card System.

At the scene

If you have an accident, collect as much information as possible about the other vehicle’s owner, operator and driver.

Fill in the European Accident Statement or an equivalent form from your insurance company. The other party may ask you to fill in a European Accident Statement. It is perfectly safe for you to complete and sign this document, if you keep a duplicate of the document with the other party’s signature.

It is simply a way of ensuring that the parties to an accident exchange the relevant information and, if possible, agree on how the accident occurred.

If you do not have a European Accident Statement or insurance form, ideally write down the following information

  • The date, place and country of the accident.
  • Name and contact details of the other party (owner/keeper/driver/operator of the other vehicle).
  • Name and contact details of the other party's motor third party liability (MTPL) insurer.
  • Registration number of the other party's vehicle. If it is a lorry or a tractor towing a (semi-) trailer, note the registration numbers of the towing vehicle and of the trailer, as the registration plates may differ.
  • Country of registration of the other party's vehicle.
  • Make and type of the other party's vehicle.
  • Names and contact details of any witnesses.
  • Information (such as address and reference) about the police authorities to which the accident has been reported.
  • The circumstances of the accident. If both parties agree on these, it is recommended that both parties sign a statement.

Contact the local police. In some countries the police may only go to the accident scene and compile a report if one of the parties has been injured or if multiple vehicles are involved. You should keep any documentation that the police give you in case you need it to pursue your claim.

If possible, take photographs of the accident scene and the damaged vehicles (including the registration numbers).

102727vw

When you get home

You can submit your claim in your country of residence, in your own language, to a claims representative of the other party’s motor insurer. Your insurer (motor or legal expenses insurer), may be able to assist you.

To find the representative's contact details, contact the information centre in your country of residence. If you know the name of the insurer, the information centre can provide you with the claims representative’s contact details.

If not, they will trace the other party’s insurer and its claims representative from the vehicle registration number, make and model of the vehicle and any other details you provide them with.

If the foreign insurer has not appointed a representative in your country of residence, you can send your claim to the national compensation body. This body also intervenes when the other party’s vehicle is uninsured or the insurer could not be identified, if the accident occurred in an EEA country.

Points to remember

The time limit to submit your claim may be different from the one in your country of residence. It is therefore important that you submit your claim as soon as possible.

You may receive a different amount of compensation to that you would receive in your country of residence, because the applicable law of the country of the accident may allow for different types and amounts of compensation.

4How to claim from an accident management or credit hire firm

How to claim from an accident management or credit hire firm

If you're claiming through a claims management company, accident management company or a credit hire company, it is important you do some research.

Your insurer may pass you onto a company who will advise that they can get you in a van straight away and take care of everything - at no cost to yourself. Do nothing until you have checked the company out.

Your insurer may pass you onto a company who will advise that they can get you in a van straight away and take care of everything - at no cost to yourself. Do nothing until you have checked the company out. It's the same story if a company approaches you. You need to be assured that any company you use is acting with your best interest at heart and they will not at act in any way that could be in conflict to your interest.

It may sound odd, but whatever route you use, you need to look at what options there are to complain should things go wrong. Claims management companies must be regulated by the Claims Management Regulator. Currently, it is the Ministry of Justice that regulates over claims management companies.

This changed in 2018 when the Financial Conduct Authority took over the regulatory Authority.
It is very important that any company you use is regulated by either The Ministry of Justice, The Claims Management Regulator or the Financial Conduct Authority.

If you use a company that is not regulated by the above, then you have no recourse of action via any arbitration services should things go wrong. With claims management companies and accident management companies, should you need to complain, you can do so to the Legal Ombudsman Service.

There has been plenty of contentious media on accident management companies, who cold call asking people whether they want to make a claim or have an injury from an accident. A lot of these companies are not regulated in any way. They do not have your interests at heart but want to sell your details to get a referral fee from a solicitor.

5Can you buy back a van or pickup that has been written off?

Can you buy back a van or pickup that has been written off?

In some cases your insurer will declare that your van or pick-up is not economical to repair; however, you don't have to accept the write off. You could buy it back, but how do you buy back a vehicle you already own? 

Retaining a Cat D is extremely unwise because you're liable to being misled by your insurer. Here's why. Imagine the repair costs on your £10,000 van is £8500. Your insurer advises you that the vehicle is a Cat D total loss, but you can keep it for £3000.

This means you get £7000, plus your van back unrepaired. But it now has the stigma of being a Cat D. And the market value is at least 20 per cent less than it would be without.

We already know it is going to cost £8500 to repair, so even using second hand parts you would struggle to repair for £7000 you received. Once you have spent your £7000 your van's now only worth £8000.

Contrary to what every insurer and pretty much anyone you speak to will tell you, yes you can retain a Cat B total loss.

Had you asked for a cash in lieu settlement, you would have received the £8500 and still have a vehicle that is not a total loss. In other words you would be at least £2000 better off.

Insurers do not like providing a cash settlement at higher figures. They prefer to reduce the risk of fraud and they have the contractual right to offer to repair. You can also insist on the vehicle being repaired.

In both situations, your van has been (or should be) repaired to manufacturer standards. So it should still be worth approximately what it was prior to the accident.

Do not forget, read your contract of insurance. It will state you are indemnified up to the market value. The insurer only has the right to retain the vehicle when they have bought the vehicle off you. Up to that point the vehicle is always yours.

What about retaining a Category C total loss?

This is where the repair costs exceed the market value. So the vehicle when repaired will be worth approximately 20 to 30 percent less than a vehicle without this history. 

If the vehicle has any structural damage, walk away. Unless you are a professional commercial vehicle repairer or have access to one, we would not recommend you contemplate retaining. The only time it makes sense to retain a Cat C vehicle is if there is cosmetic damage, or when the panels damaged are 'hang on' panels such as front wings, bumpers and doors.

Can you keep a Category B loss?

Contrary to what every insurer and pretty much anyone you speak to will tell you, yes you can retain a Cat B total loss. The question again though is why?

These vehicles can never go back on the road. You will not be able to obtain a V5C and you will never be able to tax or insure it.

The only time we would suggest retaining a Cat B is if you either have a classic vehicle - and the parts are extremely rare and hard to come by - or you have a modified vehicle and wish to retain the parts you have fitted.

This could be on anything, from a vehicle with engine and suspension modifications, to a van that has been converted into a camper. There is a possible third - retaining a flood damaged vehicle and converting it into a track or off road vehicle.

You may find the insurer will request a certificate of destruction of the shell of the vehicle, once all the items required have been stripped.

What must be remembered is the Code of Practice for the disposal of salvage is just that. It is not lawful and is not under an Act of Parliament. This means it cannot be enforced on a consumer. 

This is why it needs to change. At the moment anyone can get their hands on any salvage. As a consequence, a vehicle that has a category loss against it can be on the road but not repaired safely. Insurers need to stop profiteering by selling salvage as "constructive total losses" and repair them correctly.

6What's the difference between a Cat C and Cat D write off?

What's the difference between a Cat C and Cat D write off?

Contrary to what you may have been told, a total loss is nothing to do with the damage to your vehicle. Technically there is very little that cannot be repaired on a modern van or pick-up. 

So what is a total loss?

A total loss, is where the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds the market value. That is the correct point the vehicle is a total loss, as it is no longer economical to repair.

A vehicle is not a total loss when the repair cost are less than the market value. Your contract of insurance will (or should) say: "we indemnify you up to the market value of your vehicle." You are completely in your rights to insist on having your van repaired up to the market value, as stated in your contract of insurance.

Should your insurer not do this, they are in breach of contract. The only time a vehicle can be dealt with as a total loss when the repair cost are less than the market value, is when it is done with your consent.

This is called a 'constructive total loss' and is when you have consented to the insurer to take ownership of your vehicle and they will obtain a sum of money for the salvage of it

This allows the insurer to limit their liability to less than the market value. This type of total loss is known as a Category D total loss. If the repair costs are less than the market value - and you want your van repaired - do not let your insurer tell you otherwise. And they will.

The current ABI code of practice for disposal of salvage is as follows: 

Category A

Your van is a completely burned out, i.e. it has been set on fire or has caught fire, when only the shell is left and clearly cannot be repaired. This is called a Category A total loss with no retrievable parts.

Category B

Your vehicle has suffered structural damage and the repair cost exceed the market value, or the vehicle has suffered flood damage and was immersed in effluent or contaminated water. Just because your van has flood damage, does not mean it has to be a Category B total loss. Category A and B cannot go back on the road.

Category C

The estimated repair cost to your vehicle is more than the market value of your van.

Category D

This is what the insurance companies call a constructive total loss. This means the insurer is deciding not to repair your van, as when the insurer has looked at the repair cost - and the amount of money the insurer will receive when they sell the salvage - it is more than the value of the vehicle. You can, however, insist on it being repaired.

Remember, the vehicle is your property - not that of the insurer's unless they purchase it from you. To give you an example: If you have a van worth £1000 that is a Cat D loss, the insurer could be advised that they will receive £300 when disposing of it for salvage.

This means the maximum repair cost they will work to is £700. If it was greater than that, taking into account the £300 salvage, it is more than the £1000 market value.

Categorisation of vehicle salvage is due to change

The categorisation of salvage has long been in need of review. It is due to be amended in September 2018. Our understanding is that the final version of the draft has not been agreed fully, but in principle there will be three categories.

Category B: This vehicle is not suitable for repair and must be crushed.

Category S: This vehicle has sustained structural damage but is suitable for repair.

Category N: This vehicle has sustained no structural damage and is suitable for repair.

Can I retain the salvage of my van?

The answer in every situation is yes. The vehicle is your property and even on a Category A, you could technically retain it. The question that you need to ask yourself is "why"? Only in very rare circumstances would we suggest retaining the salvage. 

7What's an 'uninsured' loss?

What's an 'uninsured' loss?

Uninsured losses are the things that are not covered by your insurance as a result of an accident. These include your excess, loss of use, the cost of arranging an alternative vehicle and for personal injuries.

When you take out your policy, you may purchase something called legal assistance. This allows you to claim for the things above that are not covered by your contract of insurance.

Aside from the above, there are many other things that are seen in court as being 'reasonable' to claim for as an uninsured loss.

For example, if you get the bus or a train to work, rather than hire a vehicle, you can be offered compensation for loss of use, even if you have not hired another van.

If you do not have legal assistance, you may need to seek the services of a solicitor or a claims management company to claim these uninsured losses back for you.

There are changes proposed which will affect your legal rights to representation meaning that you may well have to pay for your own legal fees. This is why we suggest always paying for additional legal assistance cover if you can afford it. 

Top 10 panel vans with the lowest insurance groups

 8) Citroen Dispatch

Citroen Dispatch - Group 3E

The previous-gen Dispatch has the lowest insurance group of any new or used panel van, at 3E. It doesn’t actually matter if you go for the 1.6-litre HDi 90PS or the 125PS 2.0-litre HDi, both are available in the same rock-bottom group. You can also choose from L1H1 and L1H2 and 1000 or 1200 specifications.

Click here to see how much it could cost you

 2) Citroen Relay

Citroen Relay - Group 4E

The Relay starts only insurance group higher than the Dispatch, at 4E. This applies to the entry-level 110PS 2.2-litre HDi engine, and the 30 L1H1 model in standard or Enterprise trim levels, and the Relay is known for being one of the best vans in its class to drive.   

Click here to see how much it could cost you

 3) Renault Trafic

Renault Trafic - Group 4E

The Trafic is a good quality and comfortable medium-sized van, and starts in insurance group 4E. Within that group, you can find both 90PS and 115PS versions of the 2.0-litre dCi diesel engine and the company’s Quickshift six-speed semi-automatic gearbox, as well as a conventional manual.

Click here to see how much it could cost you

See which other models complete this Top 10 list

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