A stolen van can spell double disaster if it’s full of valuable items.
And because the contents of your van can sometimes be worth more than the van itself, van break-ins are really common in the UK, especially in higher crime areas like London. Thieves often break in just to steal what’s inside.
Most standard van insurance policies only cover your van for theft and damage and don’t include the contents. To protect your work or personal items, you usually need to take out another policy or a policy add-on. Don’t get caught out!
Here's how it all works.
Before thinking about contents, it’s important to make sure you have the right type of van insurance for your needs.
If you use your van for work, you need a commercial van insurance policy. These cover three different uses: ‘carriage of own goods’ (perfect if you’re a tradesperson like a plumber), ‘carriage of goods for hire’ (for deliveries), or ‘haulage’ (which is similar to deliveries, but tend to be bigger goods with fewer drop-offs).
If you drive a van for personal use instead of work, you need a van insurance policy that’s similar to regular car insurance. Like personal-use car insurance, van insurance can cover some personal items if they are stolen from your car (but there are limits to what’s covered).
If you want to hire or borrow a van for a short period – to move house or transport items that won’t fit in your car – you can take out temporary van insurance. Cuvva’s temporary van insurance, for example, lasts from 1 hour up to 28 days, so you can buy just the cover you need.
Moving home is stressful enough, so knowing your things are covered while you’re transporting them can bring some peace of mind.
This is a bit tricky, but you probably will have your contents insured while moving home - just not by your van insurance.
Instead, you’ll need to make sure you have home insurance before transporting your personal items when moving home.
Most standard home insurance policies offer 72 hours of insurance for transporting your contents to a new house - even including temporary storage, if you’re in-between homes for a day or two.
So while your van insurance won’t cover your flatscreen TV if the worst happens while you’re en route, your home insurance (probably!) will. Just make sure that the goods you’re transporting are all covered by your home insurance policy.
As ever, exact details differ from insurer to insurer, so always check in advance.
Tool insurance 🛠
Tools and equipment can be expensive to replace if stolen – not to mention the lost days of work. Lots of insurance companies offer contents insurance designed especially for tradespeople. This is sometimes called ‘tool insurance’, ‘van tool insurance’, or ‘contents and tool insurance’.
You can usually choose the amount of cover you need, with most tool insurance policies offering a limit of up to £10,000. There’s also an excess you need to pay when you make a claim – this can be around £100.
Some things to remember when it comes to tool insurance:
Every tool insurance policy is different so always check the fine print to make sure it meets your needs.
Goods in transit insurance 📦
Another way to cover your van contents is through ‘goods in transit’ insurance. This is helpful for people who use their vans for deliveries and moving items (called ‘haulage’).
Goods in transit insurance protects the contents of your van while you are travelling from A to B.
The level of cover changes from one insurance company to the next, though. Some policies will only cover items that belong to a customer. And some policies only cover items for the time spent in transit, which means you won’t be paid out if a theft happens while loading or unloading your van.
Other ways to get covered
Before you take out tools or goods in transit insurance, check to see if your van’s contents are protected by any of your other work-related insurance policies.
If you have ‘public liability insurance’, it might already cover your work equipment – or you could take out tool insurance as an add-on. Some insurance companies also offer general ‘tradesman insurance’, which can cover a range of things, from public liability to buildings and equipment kept in your van.
If your items are stolen and you need to make a claim, there are a few things to remember to make the claims process easier.
First, call the police to report the theft. Take photos of your van showing any damage and signs of forced entry.
Phone your insurer to file your claim as soon as possible. You will need your police crime number to hand, as well as any receipts you might have for the items that were stolen.
We've got a separate guide about making a claim on your car insurance, if you fancy some extra reading.