Van insurance groups
Find out how van insurance categories affect the price of your insurance policy, and how to lower your premium too.
When you’re looking to buy a van, you’ll want to keep costs as low as possible – and that includes insurance. There are many factors that affect the price you’ll pay for van insurance, and one of the most important of these is your van’s insurance group. In this guide we explain what van insurance groups are, why they matter, and how you can keep your insurance premiums as low as possible.
What are van insurance groups?
As with cars, every model of van that is made is placed into a van insurance group. The official Group Rating process for vans is delivered by vehicle safety research body Thatcham Research on behalf of the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
The group that a van is placed in has a significant impact on how much it costs to insure the van.
How are van insurance groups different from car insurance groups?
Van insurance groups work in a very similar way to car insurance groups, with one key (and slightly complicated) difference.
As with cars, there are 50 insurance groups in total, numbered from 1 to 50, but with vans it’s not as simple as 1 being the cheapest and 50 being the most expensive.
A van’s registration date is crucial
Before 2016, there were only 20 insurance groups (numbered 1 to 20).
From 2016, the industry moved to a 30-group system for newly registered vans. To avoid confusion with the older system used for vans registered before this date, the new groups were numbered 21-50. So, for clarity:
- Vans registered before 2016 fall into insurance groups 1-20, with group 1 vans being the cheapest to insure and group 20 vans being the most expensive.
- Vans registered from 2016 onwards fall into insurance groups 21-50, with group 21 vans being the cheapest to insure and group 50 vans being the most expensive.
If you’re buying a used van and want to check the insurance group to find out how expensive it’s likely to be to insure, make sure you check the first registration date of a van. Two vans of the same model and trim, but one registered in 2015 and one in 2016, will fall into different insurance groups.
You can check a van’s registration date on the DVLA website – you’ll need the van’s number plate to do so.
What do van insurance groups mean?
Simply put, vans in higher insurance groups will tend to incur higher insurance premiums, and vice versa.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple, as there will be many other factors that affect your insurance premium, such as your age, where you live and your driving history. But, all else being equal, you’ll pay less to insure a van in a low insurance group than one in a high insurance group.
How are van insurance groups calculated?
Factors that impact which group a van is placed in include:
- Its purchase price when new. The more it costs to buy initially, the more it’s likely to cost to replace, and the higher the insurance group.
- Repairs and parts. The less it costs to find parts for a van and repair it, the lower the group it’ll be placed in.
- Power/speed. Statistics show that faster vans with more powerful engines are more likely to be involved in a claim, so expect them to be placed in a higher insurance group.
- Size and weight. Big, heavy vans are harder to control and so are more prone to accidents and resulting claims. If a van is packing weight, expect it to be put in a higher group.
- Security features. Vans with the latest safety features are harder to steal, so will help reduce the group a van is placed in.
How do I find out a van’s insurance group?
You can check a van’s insurance group using “My Vehicle Search” on the Thatcham website. In the first box on its form, select “LCV” (Light Commercial Vehicle) rather than “Car”.
The list below will give you a flavour of the insurance groups that some popular vans (registered from January 2016 onwards) typically fall into. Bear in mind that the insurance group varies depending on the van’s trim; so some trims may fall into a higher or lower group than indicated below.
- Citroen Berlingo
- Fiat Doblo
- Ford Fiesta Van
- Ford Transit (certain models/trims)
- Peugeot Expert
- Renault Kangoo
- Ford Transit (certain models/trims)
- Nissan Navara
- Vauxhall Movano
Van insurance group security ratings
As with cars, you’ll often see a letter after a van’s insurance group number – for example, 37E.
This means that Thatcham has rated the level of security fitted as standard to the van. Here’s what each letter means:
|Suffix||Meaning of suffix|
|E||Exceeds security requirements for a van of this type and the group rating has therefore been reduced. For example, a group 22 van where the security requirement exceeds Thatcham’s minimum standard for that group will be listed as an 21E.|
|A||Acceptable – meets security requirements for a van of this type.|
|D||Does not meet security requirements for a van of this type and the group rating has therefore been increased. For example, a group 222 van where the security requirement does not meet Thatcham’s minimum standard for that group will be listed as a 23E.|
|U||Unacceptable – the level of security is significantly below requirements. This doesn’t mean that the van will be uninsurable, but individual insurers may insist on the security being upgraded before providing cover.|
|P||Provisional – data for the group rating was incomplete as of the van’s launch date.|
|G||Import – group ratings are currently only allocated to vehicles built for the UK market, though Thatcham’s data will list vehicles that are classed as imports.|
Thatcham’s expectations of a van’s level of security, and thus the security rating awarded, will vary by insurance group. The higher the group, the higher the level of security required to be deemed acceptable.
What are the cheapest vans to insure?
This may feel like a no-brainer, but the cheapest vans to insure will be those that are smaller and less powerful and have a lower purchase price. Popular models may also be cheaper to insure than vans that are rarely seen on UK roads, as it may be easier to get hold of affordable parts to repair commonly owned vans.
Some vans that tick these boxes, and where many trims fall into a lower insurance group, include the Citroen Berlingo, the Fiat Doblo and the Ford Fiesta Van.
What affects van insurance premiums other than the insurance group?
A van’s insurance group is only one factor that will affect your premium. Among other things, insurers’ underwriting criteria will also take into account:
- Your age. Younger drivers – particularly under 25s – are usually less experienced and statistically more likely to be involved in an accident, so their premiums tend to be higher than drivers in their 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s.
- Where you live (or keep your van). If you live and work in a low-crime area, your premiums will be lower than if you keep and use your van in a location where vehicle theft is rampant.
- Your driving history. Drivers with no driving convictions, such as speeding tickets, and no history of making an insurance claim will typically pay less for car insurance.
- A van’s security. Both where you keep your van (a private driveway or garage is usually better than keeping it on the road) and the security specs of the van itself – does it have an alarm fitted, for example – will affect your premium.
- Modifications. Unless they’ve been made to boost security, modifications tend to bump up a vehicle’s insurance costs.
How can I lower the cost of my van insurance?
- Choose your van with care. The make and model of your van has a huge impact on your overall insurance costs, so shop around when buying a new vehicle and try to buy a smaller, less powerful machine.
- If you can, pay your annual premium up-front. Opting to pay in monthly instalments can spread the cost, but is likely to work out more expensive overall.
- Don’t just auto-renew your insurance. Don’t let your policy roll-over without checking out the alternatives. Vehicle insurance providers are often slow to reward loyalty, so compare quotes from other providers. If you find a cheaper one then use it as leverage to ask your current insurer to offer you a cheaper deal.
- Choose a higher voluntary excess. The excess is the amount you contribute to a claim before the insurance money kicks in. If you choose to pay a higher excess this shows your insurer you’re less likely to make a claim and this could cut your premium.
- Consider a telematics policy. Fitting your car with a black box or using a Telematics app can slash your premium if you drive responsibly.
- Add a named driver. Putting a more experienced driver on your policy can help reduce your premium.
- Exclude certain drivers. By contrast, listing under 25s or learners as additional drivers on your policy can make your premium shoot up. These groups are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident. Of course, it may not be practical to exclude under 25s if you need younger employees to be able to drive a company van.
- Build up a no claims bonus. If you drive responsibly and avoid making any claims over a period of 4 or 5 years, your insurer might give you a “no claims bonus”, which in turn leads to a discount on your premium.
- Increase your van’s security. Putting your van in a garage or another secure location will make it less likely to be stolen, and so a lower risk to your insurer. Your insurer might lower your costs in turn.
- Take advantage of discounts. Scour the web and see if there are any deals on offer. Some providers might give loyalty discounts or cheaper rates for new customers.
Opting for a van in a lower insurance group can be a good way to manage the cost of insurance. This may matter more if you have other risk factors that will push your premium up – if you’re a young driver or have a tarnished driving record, for example.
But if your business needs mean a van in a low insurance group won’t work for you, don’t worry about it unduly. As we’ve outlined above, opting for a van in a low insurance group isn’t the only way to keep insurance costs down. And, as always, shopping around is one of the best ways to secure an affordable premium.
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