Does my van insurance cover tools and contents?

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Insuring the contents of your van
Different types of van insurance
Insuring the contents of your van
Making a claim

Insuring the contents of your van

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.

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Different types of van insurance

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.

Van insurance usually doesn’t automatically cover your personal items
Van insurance usually doesn’t automatically cover your personal items
Bonus reading 📚
Using temporary insurance to move home. Find out how.

Insuring the contents of your van

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:

  • Some policies don’t cover tools left in a van overnight. If you store your tools in your van and can’t move them out every day, make sure you check the policy wording carefully.
  • Most insurance companies will only pay for stolen tools if there are visible signs of forced entry to your van. If you forget to lock your van, you might not be covered.
  • Make sure your van has the right level of security, as explained in your tool insurance policy – you might need an alarm system that covers the front and back of the van.
  • Keep the receipts of all your tools so you can prove how much they are worth – but be prepared to get back less than you paid for them. Insurance companies work out their value based on how old they are and ‘wear and tear’.
  • Some policies only cover theft and others cover theft and damage.

Every tool insurance policy is different so always check the fine print to make sure it meets your needs.

Make sure you’re insured before hitting the road
Make sure you’re insured before hitting the road

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.

Don't forget home insurance! 🏡
When moving home, the contents of a van could be covered by your home insurance instead of your van insurance.

How to make a claim on your van insurance

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.

Updated on 16th August 2022