What is classic van insurance?

Vans are known for their durability. Often you see vans driving miles beyond the 100k high mileage benchmark associated with cars, with few or no issues. So, whether for business use or personal use, older …

Vans are known for their durability. Often you see vans driving miles beyond the 100k high mileage benchmark associated with cars, with few or no issues. So, whether for business use or personal use, older vans are commonplace on the roads. This confuses the issue of insurance, as older vans can qualify for multiple types of insurance; including standard van insurance, and classic van insurance. However, in terms of pricing, this can actually be beneficial for drivers. Drivers of vans beyond a certain age often have better insurance choices, and this may translate to more competitively priced premiums.

With so many old vans on the road, some could qualify for classic van insurance. Classic van insurance cover could save drivers a lot of money. However, in order to obtain classic van cover, the vehicle will need to meet a number of criteria.

This article will define what constitutes a classic van, and what criteria need to be met to gain classic van insurance. It will also look at any benefits and negatives of classic van insurance versus standard van insurance.

What is a classic van?

As with classic cars, an insurance company will have its own criteria for what defines a classic van. Some insurance providers merely decide that a van is a classic if it happens to be above a certain age. Classic vans usually have to be at least 25 years old to qualify for classic van insurance. However, an insurance provider may give classic van status to a vehicle that is 20 plus years old. For some of the older models, it is not only a money saver but a requirement to get classic van insurance, rather than a standard van insurance policy.

When thinking about classic van insurance, beautiful vintage vans or collectors’ items may come to mind. VW vans from the 60s and 70s are a good example of this. However, your van often doesn’t have to be a beautiful or rare specimen to make the grade. Age is largely the deciding factor.

What does classic van insurance cover?

As with all insurers, the level of cover, along with optional extras, fluctuates. Many standard motor insurance companies only offer basic van insurance, which is often more expensive and may even be unsuitable.

This is why it is important to compare van insurance providers. It’s better to find a company that is knowledgeable about the specifics of classic vehicles. This way you can build a tailor-made policy to fulfil your classic van needs.

However, as with any basic car insurance policy, there are three types of cover:

  • Fully comprehensive. This is the most extensive insurance type. This covers all people and vehicles involved in a crash, whether it is your fault or theirs. It also covers you financially if your car is stolen or in the event of a fire. Optional extras can also be added.
  • Third-party. Third-party only means that, if you hit someone with your classic van, only the other person’s vehicle or property is covered. Clearly, this type of cover may be less suitable for valuable vintage vans. This is the most basic insurance that is legally required.
  • Third-party, fire and theft. This provides the same cover as third-party only but also adds coverage in the event of a fire or theft.

Is classic van insurance less expensive?

This depends on a variety of factors. One important factor is how often you use your classic van. For example, insurers tend to believe that classic van owners drive these vehicles less. They will likely assume that a classic van is not the driver’s everyday get-around, which means less time on the road and less risk. So, drivers should be wary of any mileage limitations on the policy, as going over would invalidate the cover.

Also, policies on classic vans often have more competitively priced premiums because they are often not as fast, and are easier to repair than modern vehicles. A lower speed means a person is less likely to crash, and less likely to have serious accidents if they do. When a classic van is simply old and not a rare or unique edition, it is often easier to repair as the mechanics of old vehicles are simpler.

What can affect the price of classic van insurance?

Classic van insurance is often calculated in much the same way as car insurance or classic vehicle insurance. A number of factors will decide the price of the insurance policy, including:

  • Annual mileage. The more frequent it is driven (mileage) will affect the price of an insurance quote. Cars driven more frequently will cost more and vice versa.
  • Vehicle size, power and value. Bigger vans with powerful engines are costlier to insure as a larger vehicle provides a larger potential target for accidents. More powerful engines increase speed, which increases risk and therefore cost. Value is also taken into account. And, unless you have an agreed value policy in place, insurance will only cover the market value of the vehicle and not any renovations you have made.
  • Driver’s age. It is likely that owners of classic vans are older, with more experience behind the wheel. This will translate into less expensive insurance.
  • Driver’s history. Drivers with a lengthy history of driving without claiming will also save money. In particular, if the provider allows drivers to transfer their no-claims bonus, it may greatly save them money.
  • Location. Insurers will also look at where a vehicle is based. If the car happens to be in a high-crime area, insurance policies will be more expensive.
  • Where the car is stored. Similarly, classic van insurance costs can be affected by where you park or store your van. For example, classic vans locked in a garage will be less costly to cover than ones parked in the street.

What other forms of van insurance are there?

As with any other van insurance, the type of cover an owner requires depends on the usage of their van. Some owners will require different types of insurance, including:

  • Carriage of own items. If the classic van is used as a commercial vehicle to transport items, such as tools, it will need this extra cover.
  • Carriage of goods for hire or reward. If the van is used as a multiple, short journey delivery automobile, such as for fast-food, this extra is required by law.
  • Haulage insurance. Again, if the van is used for commercial purposes, an additional business van insurance policy is lawfully required. In this case, haulage insurance is required if the van is used for single (long-distance) deliveries.
  • Social-only insurance. This type of insurance may be used if the van is used for recreational activities. However, commuting is not included. Also, if the driver is taking their van to rallies, exhibitions, or other events, they need to check that event usage is covered.

What are optional extras for classic van insurance?

In order to make sure a van is not underinsured, a number of optional extras may be needed. For example:

  • Legal cover. This ensures a van driver has financial cover for any legal costs that result from driving.
  • Tool cover. If the van is used to transport or store tools, this is a good option. Any tools that are lost, stolen, or damaged are financially covered. Meaning an insurer will pay to fix or replace the tools.
  • Breakdown cover. This may be especially important for those that use their van for business, such as delivery drivers. If the van breaks down, it means business halts. Breakdown cover can provide roadside assistance to get the van back to working order as quickly as possible.
  • Courtesy van. If a van cannot be fixed at the roadside, this cover provides a courtesy van until the classic van is fixed.
  • Windscreen cover. Vans often travel down rural roads, meaning they risk chipping or smashing their windscreen. This means that if accidental damage is done to the windscreen, it can be repaired using insurance funds.
  • Usage abroad. If a driver plans to travel abroad, such as for long haul delivery trips or leisure, they will need usage abroad insurance for complete coverage.

How to reduce the price of classic van insurance

A driver can join a classic van membership club, which may reduce the price of insurance premiums. Much like with a classic car, insurers will take joining a club as a sign of dedication to preserving the vehicle. Many insurers will have set discounts in place for members of classic van clubs.

Low mileage discounts can often be applied to van owners. This means if you lower your stated annual mileage, the premiums will be reduced. However, it is important to estimate your mileage accurately, as going over could void your insurance.

A driver can also improve the security of their van to get the best deal on insurance. For example, if it is fitted with a tracking device or upgraded deadlocks, theft is less likely. Less risk translates to a better deal.

Your van may be liable for a discount if it has any unique features, such as distinctive paintwork. This is because if the van is stolen, it is easier to trace.

What are the Tax benefits of classic van ownership?

A classic van owner can apply tax and MOT discounts if the van matches certain criteria. A van that was built or registered 40 years or more ago may be liable for road tax and MOT exemption. To meet the criteria, the van must not have had any substantial changes in the previous 30 years, such as an engine or axle change. This will put the van in the historic tax class, which provides free road tax and MOT exemption. However, the van must be kept in a roadworthy condition.


Vans of a certain age may qualify for classic insurance. The age of the automobile largely dictates whether it qualifies as a classic. There are no legal criteria, so insurers have their own definitions. Most commonly, a van should be 25 years old, but some classic insurance policies start from 20 years.

As with other types of auto insurance, there are three main levels of cover. These are:

  • Fully comprehensive
  • Third-party only
  • Third-party fire and theft

There are also a number of optional extras a driver can opt in for, for complete coverage. Optional extras include:

  • Legal cover
  • Tool cover
  • Breakdown cover
  • Courtesy van
  • Windscreen cover
  • Usage abroad

Classic policies are usually less expensive than standard insurance policies. However, certain factors can drive the price up, such as the current market value of the van. Replacement parts are often simpler to fit on older models. However, in some cases, rarer replacement parts will be costlier to insure.

Depending on the usage of the van, a driver may need different types of insurance, including:

  • Carriage of own goods
  • Carriage of goods for hire or reward
  • Haulage insurance
  • Social-only insurance

There are also a number of ways to bring down the price of a policy, for example by:

  • Joining a classic club
  • Applying low mileage discounts
  • Improving security
  • Letting insurers know about uniquely identifying features

Driving a classic van also means that a driver may qualify for MOT and road tax exemption.