Beginner’s Guide To Van Insurance

Vans are rather versatile vehicles; they can aid in anything from transporting goods in between locations, delivering equipment to events, and acting as a mobile place of business for tradesmen like electricians, plumbers, and delivery drivers.

What constitutes a van?

Vans come in a variety of sizes; from smaller vehicles just a little bigger than a saloon car to larger vehicles that may come with built-in tail lifts and hoists to help with the transportation of products.

The maximum size for a van is usually one which has a gross weight of 7.5 tonnes, anything heavier than this is considered a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV), and for these vehicles, you’ll need specialist HGV insurance policies in place.

Do I need a specialist van insurance?

Van insurance is legally required in the UK, so unless you have declared your vehicle as off-road by sending a SORN notice to the DVLA, you will be liable for a fine if you are caught driving a vehicle without insurance.

Whether you’re using the vehicle for social, domestic, and pleasure (SDP) or commercial use, van drivers and their fleet owners need to be insured while on the road.

There are four main types of cover available on a van insurance policy:

  • Third Party Only

Third Party Only (TPO) insurance cover is the minimum requirement required by UK law and covers the bare minimum when it comes to protection.

This level of cover helps to cover not only passengers but also those who are injured as a result of you causing an accident. Damage to property is also covered in TPO cover, but any damage to your vehicle and the costs of repairing it will ultimately be down to you.

  • Third Party, Fire and Theft (TPFT)

In comparison, Third Party Fire & Theft cover helps to protect your vehicle against damage sustained by fire and if your van is stolen – whether it’s parked up during a job or from your driveway of a night time.

TPFO cover helps to cover you in the event of an accident of which you were at fault, paying out any damages for medical expenses or vehicular damage of the person you injured as a result of the accident.

If your van is stolen, the insurer will expect you to pay the excess on your policy, so make sure you can afford the payment on your policy before arranging a cover. Depending on the value of your van at the time, you may not have to pay in the event of an accident, so it could be worth thinking about how much you want to secure against your van when you come to insure it.

  • Fully Comprehensive

Fully comprehensive van insurance, while being the most expensive level of cover, is also the one that gives the most cover. Covering everything on a TPFT policy, including any damage suffered by your vehicle as the result of an accident, fully comprehensive cover is recommended if you can afford it.

It doesn’t cover everything though, and you may need to arrange additional extras on your policy – including breakdown cover to insure you in the event of engine failure or other incidents that renders your vehicle undrivable.

  • Telematics

Some insurers will offer you the chance to track your driving using an onboard black box. This type of cover is becoming more popular because it allows companies to save money on their fleet insurance policies by keeping track of how their drivers are driving.

Not all insurers offer this type of cover yet, but the technology has grown in popularity, so you may see more companies offering this type of cover in future.

RELATED: No Claims Bonus: Save on Your Insurance

I work from my van, can I cover my equipment?

Commercial van insurance is different from regular van insurance and is available for business users of varying sizes. Whether you’re a self-employed painter and decorator or run a small fleet of delivery vans, your vans will require a specific type of van insurance for commercial use.

The price of your premium will be dependent on factors such as annual mileage, where you park the vehicle during jobs and even any additional named drivers – including co-workers and even apprentices.

A fully comprehensive van insurance policy is usually better for insuring vans which are always on the road throughout the day, and such policies help to cover any equipment contained within the vehicle – including tools and other equipment needed to do your job.

I’m a courier, do I need any extra cover?

Couriers will usually need to have some additional cover to protect their vehicles and the contents they carry:

  • Goods In Transit protection – used by those in the haulage and courier industries, Goods In Transit cover helps to protect those who regularly use their vans to deliver goods, materials and services for a living.
  • Employer’s Liability Insurance – if you employ staff to drive your vehicles, this level of protection helps to protect you against any claims brought against you by your drivers as a result of incidents which occurred as a result of your negligence.

It may be worth looking into specific courier van insurance to ensure all aspects are covered before you deploy the fleet.

So whether you use your van for transporting goods or just taking rubbish to the local tip, having the right level of van insurance cover can be beneficial, so it’s something worth looking into to ensure you are appropriately covered.

Van Insurance: Everything You Need To Know

Vans are a common sight on the roads of the UK and are used for a variety of purposes – from transporting packages as part of a courier service, or allowing tradesmen to move themselves and their tools to their sites of work.

There are even those who collect older, more classic vans – including the iconic VW Westfalia campervan – restoring and showing them at special motor meets and trade shows.

Whether you use a van for work, own a fleet of vans as part of your business, or own a classic or vintage van for showing purposes, you’ll need to make sure your vehicle is covered with van insurance.

What Is Van Insurance?

Van insurance helps to cover your vehicle and yourself in the event of an accident or incident that damages your property. Van insurance is a legal requirement for anyone using vans for the purposes of business and personal interests – including showing vehicles.

If you have a fleet of vans as part of your business, it can be worth looking into taking out some fleet insurance and securing all your vehicles under one single policy. This could save you money by insuring them collectively rather than one-by-one. Not only could this save you money, but could also save on administration costs by reducing paperwork.

What Levels Of Cover Are Available?

Much like with a regular car insurance policy, there are multiple levels of cover available on a van insurance policy:

  • Third-party only  

The cheapest cover available, third-party only cover, helps to cover the costs incurred by a third-party – including passengers – as a result of an accident. While this level would cover the cost of the third party, you would be responsible for covering the cost of any repairs that are needed as a result of the accident.

  • Third party, fire and theft (TPFT)

TPFT cover helps to cover your vehicle against damage by third parties, fire damage and in the event of your vehicle being stolen.

  • Fully comprehensive

Fully comprehensive insurance covers everything that is on a TPFT policy, as well as additional extras such as medical cover, windscreen cover and personal effects cover

Some brokers may offer the chance to take out a policy which is ‘stripped down’, essentially removing some of the effects of a comprehensive policy, ask your broker if you’re unsure and if this flexibility will be available for your policy.

Age And Experience

Like with car insurance, age and experience can make a difference when it comes to insuring a vehicle. Younger drivers will have trouble finding a cheaper policy because of their driving experience, while older drivers who have many years experience can find a cheaper quote.

Whether you drive for a fleet or as a sole trader, building up some No Claims Bonus on your van by driving carefully to build up some NCB can save you money on your policy going forward.

Insuring Fleets

Depending on the size of your van fleet, looking at getting some van fleet insurance can be worth looking into. Fleet insurance policies allow you to insure multiple vehicles using a single policy, rather than insure each vehicle individually, which could work out cheaper for you in the long term.

RELATED: 10 Easy Ways to Reduce the Costs of Your Car Insurance

How Can I Reduce My Premium Price?

There are a number of ways you can help to reduce the price of your van insurance policy, some may take time but some can work in your favour immediately:

  • Build up some No Claims Bonus – through careful driving over a period of time you can accumulate some NCB and help to reduce your premiums by proving to an insurer that you are a careful driver.
  • Install additional security – invest in some additional security for your van, including wheel locks and alarms, in order to keep your van safe from thieves. Bear in mind where you leave the van at night, and try and use a secure location rather than in the open on the road if possible.
  • Consider your mileage – try and work out an approximate mileage per year for your usage, although this can be tricky if your business is countrywide and unpredictable. If you use a van for show purposes only, consider taking out a ‘limited mileage allowance’ on your policy which sets a mileage limit per year that could save money on your policy.
  • Cover your contents – look into putting an additional extra onto your policy that will help cover the cost of any tools and equipment that might be left in the van overnight, or consider taking your tools out of the van and into safe storage at night in order to make it less attractive to criminals.
  • Membership of a trade – some brokers may offer discounts if you are a member of a trade organisation; such as the Federation of Master Craftsman or NICEIC, so be sure to disclose this information whatever your trade is.

Home Insurance for Unoccupied Properties

When a house is vacated, it can be for one of the following reasons:

  • The property is undergoing refurbishment or renovation.
  • The property is up for sale or is awaiting the arrival of new tenants
  • The current occupier is absent due to being in a hospital, taken into long-term care, is currently travelling or is at a residence in a second home.
  • The property is awaiting probate, usually during the awaiting of decisions on asset division following the death of the owner.

Properties can also be vacated while they are being brought up to scratch, and safe to inhabit again – including repairing properties that have sustained damage as a result of subsidence.

Do I need insurance while no-one is living there?

While properties remain unoccupied, they are at risk of thieves and squatters, who could cause further damage to the property, in many cases decreasing not only the appeal but also the value of the property.

Many insurers may invalidate policies if the property is unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days, any claims made after this time may not pay out due to the increase in risk caused by vacating the property.

In this case, unoccupied home insurance can help to cover damage caused by the elements, flood and fire damage and damage from third parties (including vandalism) while you are not there. Unoccupied home insurance can be handy to have in order to lower the costs involved with owning an unoccupied property.

Policies can last from anything from 30-45 days in the short-term, to anything up to twelve months for longer policies. It’s worth asking your insurer about your options should you need long-term cover, either as a result of refurbishment works or during periods between rentals if you use the property as a holiday home.

Isn’t that just the same as my current home insurance?

Not so, unoccupied home insurance has a few differences between it and a regular home insurance policy, mostly because of the risk factor involved at times when the property is vacant.

Insurers will want to know the following details about your property:

  • How much is the property worth?
  • What condition is the property currently in?
  • Is there any security in place on the property?

These factors can affect the price you pay for a policy, particularly if the property is dilapidated and needs structural repairs to make the property safe.

Unoccupied properties are at a greater risk of damage from vandals if they’re not already damaged beyond repair. Those in a poor state of repair will likely need critical repairs carried out on them, and as such, may also be at risk from damage from negligent workmen, so always be sure that whoever you hire to do the job is reliable and trustworthy.

I can’t be there all the time! How can I protect the house?

Fear not, there are a number of things you can do to lessen the risk of damage to your property while you are not there:

  • Invest in some security – this can consist of a stronger set of locks, both on doors and windows in order to lessen the likelihood of a break-in while you’re not present.
  • Consider installing some sort of burglar alarm system or CCTV system in order to help deter intruders (and maybe bring down the cost of your unoccupied home insurance policy).
  • In times of cold weather, make use of a time-controlled heating system in order to stop the water pipes from freezing up during chilly times, lessening the chance of a costly rupture.
  • With today’s technology, there are now a number of companies which allow you to control your heating using a tap of your smartphone, so it can be worth looking into one of these for keeping the house’s temperature, reducing the risk of damp while the house is vacant.
  • Strike up a good rapport with your neighbours – if you get on well with your neighbours, they are more likely to help keep an eye on your property while you’re not there. Whether it’s to draw the curtains of a night-time or alert you to any untoward activity around your property, it can pay to be a good friend in order to ensure your property’s safety.

Insurers will not normally pay out on an unoccupied home insurance claim if there is evidence of unforced entry into the property, so it can be worth investing in some good locks to help save on your policy.

Whether you’ve been forced to vacate your property for reasons beyond your control or choose to leave the property vacated as a result of renting it out, make sure you have at least some level of cover as this can help save on costly repairs.

Insuring A Holiday Home Within the UK

If you own a second home within the UK and you want it rented to holidaymakers or make use of it as a second home, you will want to know the importance of making sure your investment is kept safe, even when you’re not there.

A standard home insurance policy will not usually cover a second home if it is left vacant for more than 30 days of the year – especially during periods of slow business or if you need to make repairs to the property.

The question is, if you own an apartment by the sea or a cottage in the sprawling countryside, what sort of insurances should you have in place on your UK holiday home?

Holiday Home Insurance

Holiday home insurance is specially designed for those properties that are left unoccupied for 30 days or more during a year. This is because most home insurance policies will not cover holiday homes under a regular house insurance policy due to the increase in risk.

Because you or anyone else might not be there for long periods of time, insurers will consider the property more at risk.

Empty houses may be more at risk of break-ins and vandalism in the periods between bookings, as well as being more at risk from burst pipes and storm damage, and because you as the owner aren’t based there all the time, you might not be able to remedy these issues quickly.

Buildings Insurance

When it comes to necessities, buildings insurance is a legal requirement if you have a mortgage on a second home. This covers the structure of the house, everything from the walls, ceilings, and to the rafters on the roof, but it can also cover any external buildings and other luxuries such as swimming pools.

Buildings insurance will help cover the property itself in the event of storm damage, flood damage or subsidence as a result of an extremely wet weather.

Contents Insurance

While it is not legally required, having a form of contents insurance for your holiday home is a wise investment, it helps to cover equipment, furniture, and even appliances against damage sustained by third parties – including your guests.

Because you’re not always present at the property, making a checklist of which belongings you leave when you are not there is a good idea – keep a note of any expensive equipment you might leave.

Securing these possessions against a contents insurance or gadget insurance policy can help to keep your mind at ease, knowing that they’ll be covered in the event of theft or become damaged due to the behaviour of one of your guests.

Public Liability Insurance

Because you’ll have guests staying at the property when you are not there, you need to ensure you have some Public Liability (PL) insurance in place. PL insurance helps to cover you as the homeowner in the event one of your guests gets injured or fall ill while staying at your property.

What Should Be Included?

Each insurer will be different in what they offer as part of a holiday home insurance policy, but you should be looking for the following features:

  • Accidental damage cover – helps to protect your property against unintentional damage caused by your guests.
  • Loss of income cover – helps to cover you if you are unable to rent out the property because of repairs in the event of weather-related damage or subsidence, which may have caused damage to the property and render it inhabitable.
  • Home emergency cover – gives you and your guests access to a 24-hour emergency hotline to call in the event of burst pipes or other domestic emergencies, which can then be used to arrange repairs in your absence.
  • Employers’ liability cover – if you employ a member of staff – such as a cleaner or maintenance man – and they get injured on your property, this cover will help cover legal costs if a case is brought against you.
  • Personal possessions cover – helps to cover your own possessions while they are in the home, it can be worth double checking that you don’t have similar cover elsewhere – such as gadget insurance or those offered as part of current accounts or credit cards – to ensure you don’t overinsure.
  • Alternative accommodation cover – helps to relocate your guests to alternative accommodation, such as a hotel, in the event of damage to the property that renders it inhabitable.
  • Emergency travel – if you need to travel home to carry out repairs or sort out a claim, this cover can help you to recoup some of the costs of travel expenses as a result.

As always with any insurance product, it is essential that you read the small print before you sign an agreement, as some insurers may include exclusions which may affect your policy price and level of cover.

Can I Reduce My Premium?

Much like with your regular home insurance policy, taking some steps to beef up the security of your holiday home can help bring down your holiday home policy price. Think about the following when it comes to securing your home before you start renting it out:

  • Change your current lock set for a newer, stronger set to decrease the chances of a break-in.
  • Consider putting locks on the windows to deter thieves.
  • Invest in an alarm system for when you’re not there, just remember to leave clear instructions for your guests as to how to turn it on and off again each time they leave the property vacated.
  • Buy a safe and keep it in a secure location, and use it to secure personal possessions such as spare keys and electronic devices.

Owning and maintaining a holiday home can be a long process, but by taking the time to get your insurance, you can help yourself to ease the burden and ensure that not only are your guests safe in the event of an incident but that your home is protected even when you’re not there.

Security For A Static Caravan

While we may more often than not think of caravans as being towed behind cars on the road, usually during busy Bank Holiday periods and during the school holidays, there are also static caravans which have more permanent bases (as well as plumbed in utilities).

Static caravans are usually based in holiday parks along the coast of the UK, as well as smaller campsites which may be based in more inland locations. Caravan sites will usually have a warden on site who perform daily patrols in order to ensure the safety and security of the camp’s residents.

Much like with a house, a static caravan can be filled with items which may be attractive to thieves – including electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones – so making sure these are protected at times when you are not present at the property is essential in ensuring you don’t lose money should something go missing.

What Should I Secure?

Even though static caravans are static, it can still be worth securing them with devices that you would usually associate with a touring caravan, including:

  • Wheel clamps
  • Hitch locks
  • Corner steady leg locks
  • Hitch posts

Even if the caravan itself is not moving it can still be worth using these devices to reduce the risk of theft, but there are a number of other security features that you can add to a static caravan in order to ensure that it is protected.

Check That They Can’t Get In

Like with a house, static caravans will have two main points of entry for burglars to target – the doors and the windows – and by ensuring that both are securely protected with strong locks you can not only help to deter thieves but also help to bring down the cost of your caravan insurance policy by taking these extra steps to protect your property.

Should I Fit An Alarm?

Aside from fitting external deterrents such as those listed above, securing the interior of your static caravan using alarm systems and even small CCTV systems can help protect your belongings and bring down the cost of your static caravan insurance.

Whilst many touring caravans will come with a Thatcham-approved alarm system, static caravans may need beefing up with extra security. With the advent of digital technology and with security cameras getting much smaller, setting up a small home network with a couple of cameras can help keep an eye on the property when you are away, and get alerts sent to your mobile phone if a movement is detected.

Can Having A Safe Help?

If you’re based at the caravan for long periods of time or rent it out to friends, family members or holidaymakers, you’re likely to keep few personal possessions at the caravan for times when you are there, including documents and mobile phones.

By investing in a small, fireproof safe and keeping it hidden within the caravan, you can secure items such as vehicle documentation and personal belongings like jewellery and mobile phones and keep them safe when you’re not present at the caravan.

If you rent out your static caravan, making use of a key safe can be a good way of restricting access when you’re not there, allowing you to keep important keys and other belongings in a safe place while you have guests.

Can I Secure A Caravan On My Home Insurance?

While it may be possible to insure physical belongings at the caravan on another policy, the caravan itself needs to have its’ own specific static caravan insurance policy, even if it is stored on a secure compound with regular patrols.

However, for anything inside the caravan, it can be worth checking with your home insurance provider if it is possible to add the contents of your static caravan to any existing policies – this can include home insurance and gadget insurance policies.

What Does My Caravan Insurance Cover Then?

A caravan insurance policy will cover the caravan itself against any damage caused by weather – including storm damage – as well as those caused by fire or accidental damage by third parties.

Caravan insurance policies will usually include features such as new-for-old replacement, and relocation cover in case the site becomes inhospitable due to weather and you have to relocate your caravan and even cover for anything else on your pitch, including furniture and awnings.

Contents cover can also be added onto a policy to help cover appliances and gas bottles, but bear in mind that storing gas bottles in the caravan could help raise the risk factor and thus lead to a higher premium.

What is Excluded From a Policy?

There are few things which are excluded from a caravan insurance policy:

  • Damage caused by vermin or pets
  • Accidental damage caused by tenants
  • Damage caused by subsidence or a landslip
  • Damage caused to water pipes due to cold weather

There may be other exclusions depending on your broker, so it can be worth double checking before you commit to a policy. Caravan policies will vary in what they offer, so it can be worth shopping around until you find one that suits you.

By taking the time to further protect your static caravan from potential thieves, either using new technology or traditional methods such as deadlocks and even a small CCTV system, you can help to reduce the costs of your caravan insurance premiums.

Campervans: Not Just For Surfers

For those who grew up during the Swinging Sixties, there were two iconic vehicles of the 1960’s; the Volkswagen Beetle and the Volkswagen Westfalia camper van.

Also known as a microbus, the Westfalia was a conversion of the VW Type 2 campervan, these vehicles became synonymous with those making great journeys in the 1960s, and were often the vehicle of choice for those embarking on road trips.

Nowadays, Westfalia campervans are still popular to surfers, seasoned campers and those who like to keep a bit of historical quirk on their driveways. The vehicles are also becoming more commonplace in the world of mobile catering, with modified campers being used as food trucks popping up more frequently at festivals.

Westfalia campervans, with their forward-facing cabs and distinctive engine sound, are still very much in demand even after all these years, with enthusiasts still meeting to show off their vehicles, discuss maintenance and even making use of digital mediums such as online auction sites to source replacement parts.

So where can you look if you want to buy one of these classic campers?

Buying A Campervan

When you’re looking to get your hands on a classic campervan there are many options at your disposal, and with plenty of enthusiasts out there keeping the vehicles on the road, there are plenty of resources out there offering support as well.

As your first step, look locally either in the car listings or advertisements in the local media, you may find a vehicle for sale close to where you are, which will save on travel time and give you the chance to test-drive the vehicle.

When buying a vehicle, viewing the vehicle itself is essential, so make sure you can actually see what you’re about to buy. Auction sites can be a bit of a risk, especially if you’re buying from abroad, always be sure you have at least test-driven the vehicle before committing to a sale.

Sourcing Parts

Many enthusiasts will take on older campervans as restoration projects, and there are plenty of options when it comes to finding replacement parts as part of your project:

  • Breakers yards – with many yards having older campervans in their yards, they can be handy for finding replacement parts – including mirrors, hubcaps and even cookers – being sold for scrap
  • Auction sites – these can be a goldmine for those looking for parts – anything from replacement roofs to the kitchen sink – many of the parts will be ‘collection only’ so be prepared to travel where necessary
  • Fellow enthusiasts – there are enthusiasts out there who will have a great collection of spare parts available to sell to their fellow enthusiasts, so try seeking these out at motor shows or through your local campervan club

Making Connections

When buying a vehicle of any kind, knowledge is power, and the VW Westfalia still has quite a following of enthusiasts, so it can be worth looking into whether there’s a local campervan enthusiasts group near you.

Networking with fellow campervan enthusiasts gives you the chance to discuss the vehicles themselves, maintenance tips, buying advice and even discover new and exciting roads to travel on.

Some groups may even offer discounts on campervan insurance policies, so it could be worth having a look around and becoming part of a club.

Insuring A Campervan

When it comes to insuring these classic campers, a regular car insurance policy may not cover your vehicle due to its age and risk factor.

Because of this, there are specialised brokers that offer campervan insurance policies, so shopping around can be handy if you want to find one that’s right for you.

How Can I Reduce My Premium Price?

By keeping the vehicle in good condition and secure, you can help keep your insurance premiums low, so bear a few things in mind when owning a campervan:

  • How many miles a year do you cover?

Mileage can be a big factor when it comes to motor insurance, the further you travel in a year, the higher your premium.

If you are only going to use the van at certain times of the year, such as to attend motor shows and other special events, it could be worth seeing if you can agree a ‘limited mileage allowance’ with your broker.

A limited mileage allowance essentially sets a maximum mileage for a year, which if you don’t exceed in a year can help save you money on your premium. It can be handy if you only use the vehicle for show purposes or as an occasional runaround.

  • Where do you store the vehicle?

Vehicle location is another factor which can affect your premiums, especially when it comes to where you live. Those campers stored in secure parking areas and in garages are going to be seen as less at risk than those which are kept parked on the street.

  • What security features does it have?

Making use of additional security features, such as alarm systems, wheel locks and even in-van CCTV systems can help to reduce your premiums. By investing in some extra security you can help to reduce your campervan insurance premiums in the future.

VW campervans still hold a place in our automotive history, and there are still plenty of enthusiasts out there who are keeping the spirit of the vehicle alive and much more who are taking an interest in these iconic vehicles.

RELATED: Travelling With A Trailer Tent

What To Do If You Break Down With A Horse Box

Breaking down is something that every motorist goes through at least once during their driving careers, and whether it’s changing a tire in the pouring rain or waiting for the breakdown man to arrive, it’s never a pleasant experience.

Breaking down while towing a trailer or caravan can be particularly hazardous, largely due to the cumbersome nature of what you’re towing. Location can also play a part, for while you can make use of the hard shoulder should you find yourself in difficulties, breaking down on country roads can present its own set of hazards.

If you’re transporting animals such as horses, breaking down can be a stressful experience for them as well, and spooked animals could cause problems for other road users should they panic and become loose, either as a result of an accident or in the event of a sudden breakdown.

What Should I Do If I Break Down?

In the event of an emergency whilst driving, the most important thing to remember is to remain calm, and ensure that you get yourself to a safe place by doing the following:

  • Pull as far to the left as you can and turn your steering wheel to the left, ensuring that you put it in full-lock
  • Turn on your hazard warning lights immediately and leave your sidelights on as an indication to other road users
  • Ensure that you and your passengers exit using the left-hand side doors of your vehicle and remain in a safe place – usually behind a barrier and on a grassy verge by a motorway – until help arrives
  • Put on reflective jackets if you have them, and if you break down on an A-road ensure that you deploy a warning triangle at least 50 yards behind your vehicle in order to warn other drivers of your situation
  • Phone your breakdown service if you use one, either using your mobile phone or a nearby payphone if you break down on an A-road

What If I Don’t Have Breakdown Cover?

If you break down on a motorway then you should locate your nearest emergency telephone if you can’t make use of a smartphone. Many breakdown providers now make use of apps in order to pinpoint your location and deploy help your way, but in areas of bad signal, this may not be possible, so an alternative might be needed.

Look for the blue signs along the edge of the motorway and for the orange booths which contain a phone with a direct connection to the Highways England (formerly Highways Agency) or the police, these are free to use and can be vital to those who break down.

What About My Animals?

If you’re travelling with animals, either in the car or in a trailer, it’s important to keep them calm and under control. Dogs should be put on a leash and kept under control whilst waiting for the breakdown services, but with larger animals such as horses and cattle, it can be a bit more difficult.

Ensuring that your animals remain calm is important while you wait for help is vital to not only ensure their wellbeing but that of other road users. Many modern horse trailers will have side entrances to allow access for trainers to enter and ensure the animal remains calm, but make sure that you only enter the trailer when it is safe to do so, as a frightened horse can be unpredictable and may even cause you injury if not approached with care.

You should ensure that they also have access to food and water throughout the journey and that your trailer also contains tack for when you need to bridle up and move the animal, either to get them to a place of safety or when you arrive at the stables.

Having some breakdown cover can help to get your vehicle roadworthy as soon as possible. A mechanic may be able to fix the problem on the spot, or if not make sure you are towed to a nearby garage to await repairs, but it can also be worth having some on what you’re towing as well.

Should I Insure My Trailer Too?

You must ensure that you have some level of horsebox insurance in place before you take one on the road, these policies can ensure that not only will your trailer be moved to a place of safety, but that your animals will be taken care of as well.

Many horsebox insurance policies will offer the following features as standard:

  • Roadside Assistance and Roadside Repairs
  • Recovery and transportation of your animals to nearby stables or a home address while you await repairs
  • Puncture Assistance

Owning and transporting horses can be an expensive business, but by making sure that your transport is covered with some horsebox insurance you can ensure that you can get back on the road to your event or grazing field as quickly as possible following a breakdown.

If you still need more information, you can download a free Horsebox and Trailer Owner Guide from gov.uk.

Travelling With A Horse Trailer

Whether it’s moving them from grazing fields, transporting them to the vet or to an event or show, travelling with a horse can be a tricky and stressful experience for both owner and animal if not done correctly.

Horse trailers can be particularly cumbersome on the road, especially if the animal contained within suddenly spooks and upsets the balance of the trailer, which could lead to sudden movements that can potentially cause incidents while on the road.

Do I Need A Special Licence To Tow A Horse Trailer?

Before you even think about towing a trailer, you must make sure you are qualified to do so. Depending on what year you obtained your driving licence can affect what you are able to tow, and you may need to pass an additional test, known as Category B+E status, on your driving licence before you can drive while towing a trailer, this is known as Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).

  • Licences gained before 19th January 2013 – able to tow a MAM of up to 3.5 tonnes
  • Licences gained from January 1st, 1997 – able to tow a MAM of up to 3.5 tonnes

What Should I Check Before I Set Off?

When preparing your horse and trailer for a trip there are a few things you should check in order to ensure a smooth journey for yourself and your horse.

  • Check the condition of your trailer

It is important that you check your trailer before you travel, checking for any defects or damage before you set off. Keep the following checklist in mind:

  • Check engine
  • Check tyres on vehicle
  • Check trailer connection/hitch
  • Check tow bar
  • Check tyres on trailer (including spare)
  • Check number plate is attached

Ensure that you also check that your indicators and brake lights are working correctly before setting off. As well as the condition of the vehicle itself, you must also bear its mass in mind, and this will involve the weight of your vehicle, the trailer and the horse within, as explained below.

  • Check your weights before setting off

When it comes to towing weight, there are limits as to how much you can tow on a regular car licence that includes towing (B+E grade).

Remember that the combined weight of vehicle, trailer and animals in each vehicle will have a different MAM limit, so be sure to work this out before you travel.

When working out the weight of your load you must bear in mind the following aspects:

  • Weight and towing capacity of your vehicle
  • Weight of unladen trailer and any equipment you are storing on board
  • Weight of the horse(s) you will be transporting

Weigh your animals carefully using a weight station and keep an eye on the towing capacity of your vehicle – whether you use a 4×4 or a Land Rover – ensure that you are within the legal limit for towing with your vehicle before you set off.

Allow a little leeway when it comes to weight to include equipment such as tack, as well as feed and water to ensure that your animal is comfortable during the journey.

  • Be careful when loading and unloading

Horses can be unpredictable beasts, especially when it comes to leading them onto a trailer, so make sure you have all the correct equipment and manpower to safely lead your horse onto the trailer.

Some horses will take to it easily, some won’t, but ensure that you are prepared for any situation; keep your staff safe by ensuring they wear protective clothing and that your horse has plenty of food and water waiting in the trailer for when you succeed in boarding them.

  • Keep your horse safe and secure

Ensure that, once in the trailer, your horse has plenty of room to move within the confines of the trailer and has access to a good amount of food and water during the journey – even if it’s just a short one.

Ensure that your horse has adequate protection during the journey; including using horse blankets and leg protection such as bandages or padded boots before you travel – particularly on long journeys.

The most important thing to make sure when transporting horses is that they have a valid horse passport before you transport them to ensure that they can be transported within the UK. If you’re looking to take your horse abroad you may need a separate horse passport for another country, so it’s best to double check before you travel.

Get Insured Before You Set Off

You must also ensure that you have relevant horse trailer insurance in place before you travel in order to help cover you in the event of an accident caused by a third party. Different policies will have different features, including some which will allow you to transport your horses to nearby stables while you get repairs sorted.

If you find yourself breaking down en-route the best thing you can do, both for your sake and your horses, is to keep calm and contact a breakdown service, who will help to get you and your animal back on the road as quickly as possible, or arrange for time to be spent at local stables if not.

If you still need more information, you can download a free Horsebox and Trailer Owner Guide from gov.uk.

Buying And Insuring Musical Instruments

The world of music is vast and varied these days, with a multitude of genres, styles and even playing methods for fans to enjoy. From guitar rock to hip-hop to bizarre music from around the world, there is literally something for everyone to enjoy.

What -Is- A Musical Instrument?

When it comes to instruments, anything that makes a noise can be considered a musical instrument, this has led to some unusual yet lasting performances over the years, with shows lime Stomp – a production which uses everyday objects as instruments – having long runs in the West End as a result.

A musical instrument is played using your hands, whether it’s beating a drum or dropping beats with an electronic equaliser. Indeed, as technology has grown, so have the possibilities for DJs, musicians, and those wanting to learn an instrument.

Smartphone apps have been particularly popular in recent years, allowing us to tune guitars, learn notes and educate children with rhythm games, as well as giving us the opportunity to record our performances and share them with the world through the use of services such as YouTube and streaming services to perform.

Where Can I Buy Them?

When it comes to buying musical instruments of any kind, it’s best to look around, whether you’re after a drum set, kazoo or didgeridoo. Special musical instrument shops usually carry a wide selection of instruments for beginners, and will usually stock the literature to help you get started.

There are also many online retailers who can help source instruments of all shapes and sizes, like larger pieces such as cellos and grand pianos. Some can even be made to order if you’re prepared to wait for something you’re passionate about.

New Or Second-Hand?

Buying an instrument new can be a little more expensive, but for this, you will get an instrument which has been newly made and in mint condition. Musical instrument shops will be a good source of new instruments, and some can manufacture you a nice new one from scratch if you’re prepared to wait.

There is also a market for second-hand instruments, with many choosing to sell their instruments on after they’ve lost interest or are just simply looking to replace their current instrument with a newer model.

Online auction sites can be a good place to start if you’re just looking to start out with an instrument or to replace an existing instrument, and it can also be a useful platform for selling on your old instruments and equipment.

Bear in mind though that depending on what you’re buying, there’s no guarantee that it will arrive in the condition you saw online, particularly if it’s being shipped from afar.

What Can I Get Cover For?

Specialist musical instrument insurance is available from a number of brokers, who will offer the following in a policy:

  • New-for-old cover

A new-for-old cover will help you with the cost of replacing your instrument should they become damaged as a result of a third-party action, either during a gig or even if it’s just one of your friends dropping and breaking it.

Musical instruments can be expensive to buy and repair, so ensuring you have some new-for-old cover in place can help provide a useful safety net when things go wrong.

  • Room only cover

Room-only cover is designed for those who like to collect instruments, storing them in home studios or bedrooms, more for show than to actually play. While you can secure your instruments on your home insurance policy, it can be worth looking into some additional musical instrument insurance because of the nature of the value of your collection, especially if you have some limited editions or rarities in your collection.

  • Replacement and repairs cover

Replacement and repair (R&R) will help to cover you in the event of your instrument becoming damaged – either during a gig or as a result of an incident at home.

Some instruments may need to go to a specialist to be repaired and brought back to its original condition, so having some R&R cover can help you to recoup some of these costs.

What About During Performances?

If you play in a band and gig frequently, it can be worth looking into including the following on your policy as well:

  • Public Liability cover – this would help to cover you against damages brought against you if someone got injured, or there was damage to equipment during your gig as a result of your actions on stage.
  • Vehicle Cover – helps to cover your instrument between gigs and while travelling.  It can be worth having in addition to your regular car insurance policy to ensure you can recoup your losses should your instruments and equipment get damaged or stolen.

Collector or Player?

In the world of music, there are those who play and those who play and collect the tools of their trade. Enthusiasts may look for rare and unusual instruments, including those used by their favourite bands during certain concerts, especially if they’re signed.

Because of the high value of some items, getting them insured is essential to a collector. When it comes to musical instrument insurance, you can be insured either as a room-only policy or include financial protection which can be vital when insuring rare, antique, and valuable items because it would allow you to recoup a lump sum of the total value of the instrument, allowing you to set about sourcing a replacement.

Should I Insure My Instruments?

Whether you play in a band, as part of an orchestra or just busk on the street, your musical instrument is vital to what you do, and ensuring it against theft or damage with some musical instrument insurance is an important part of ownership.

A Guide on Unsecured Car Loans

An unsecured car loan is a kind of personal loan that is offered solely for the acquisition of a vehicle. The loan will normally come with additional benefits including discounted car parts, breakdown cover, vehicle inspections, etc.

Unsecured personal loans – and therefore car loans – are customarily covered by the terms of the Consumer Credit Act

An unsecured car loan works similarly as a traditional personal loan: a lump sum is granted in return for you agreeing to perform regular repayments, usually via Direct Debit. It is repayable over a specified period of time, normally between six months and ten years (even though loans for car finance tend to be over a shorter term, usually three years). Security will normally be required for loans of a large amount.

Lenders charge interest on the amount availed. The interest rate is normally fixed at the inception of the loan, which signifies that the repayments remain the same throughout the term.

The interest charge is recorded as an APR (Annual Percentage Rate). Any institution that lends money is obliged by law to quote the APR and to suggest this advertised rate to 51 percent of borrowers. The APR is usually dependent on the amount of the loan and sometimes the term as well, even though some lenders do offer the same rate to all their borrowers.

It is important to check for the best rate that is dependent on the amount of loan and term that you are after.

Read our guides on personal loans for more in-depth summaries of the things that you need to think about when taking out an unsecured car loan, including:

  • Representative APR – The advertised representative APR may not always be the one that you receive, the rate that you are given depends on your credit rating, a scoring system that is used by most lenders to determine how creditworthy an applicant is.
  • Personal loan early settlement penalties – Paying for your loan earlier than when it will fall due can save you a lot of money in interest. However, some lenders charge penalties to customers that are wishing to repay the entire amount before the end of the term. If you are refinancing, you should take into consideration the said penalty.
  • Personal loan deferment periods and payment breaks – A break between when you receive your loan proceeds and when the first payment falls due, beyond the standard month, is allowed by many lenders. While this gives you a break from your dues, interest is charged over this period which actually raises the total interest payable. Payment breaks during the loan term also alo be offered by the lender, however, interest is charged on the amount that is not paid. This indicates that a larger loan amount is left unpaid for a longer period. These breaks may incur charges.
  • Direct Debits – To pay the monthly instalments, most lenders require a Direct Debit. Verify if your bank account can accommodate these and make sure that the money is available for payments. Penalty charges for missed payments can be huge.
  • Payment protection insurance for unsecured loans – This is an insurance that is optional. It will cover your repayments should you not be able to work under particular circumstances and can include:
    1.  Accident
    2. Sickness
    3. Unemployment
    4. Death

It is important to read the small print to make sure that the cover that is provided is suitable for your needs.