Becoming a self-employed van courier is as easy as, well, buying a van! Thanks to the huge increase in home shopping and with people ordering everything from food to furniture online, van couriers have never been busier. Most couriers either work as sub-contractors for a larger organisation, or are independent operators who have built up their own client base.
The courier industry is incredibly competitive, and a reputation can be made or lost on a single consignment. If all goes well, you can be sure of return business from the customer again and again. But if things go wrong, you could be left seriously out of pocket. That’s why if you’re a van courier you need insurance that will protect you if a customer makes a claim against you.
So what kind of insurance do you need if you’re a self-employed van courier? Here’s our quick guide that will help you put together an affordable insurance package to cover (almost) every eventuality:
Specialist vehicle insurance
Ordinary van insurance will not cover you for commercial use, especially if you’re using your vehicle as part of a courier business. If you check on the average policy they often specify that you are not covered if you use your van for deliveries. As you have to have motor insurance to be legal on the road, you’re going to need to find specialist van insurance that does cover you for commercial use.
Expect to pay a higher premium, though, so it’s well worth shopping around or talking to a broker who specialises in this kind of insurance package.
Goods in transit insurance
As soon as a package, parcel or letter is handed to you, it is your responsibility until it is received and signed for at the other end. After the recipient has the package in their hand, it is no longer your responsibility. However, during the time when it is in your possession, you are fully responsible for its safety, and that means you’re also financially responsible for any losses due to theft or damage.
Effectively, the consignment is the property of someone else, so if it is damaged in transit, lost or stolen, they can claim compensation for the value of the package against you. Goods in transit insurance is, therefore, one of the most important insurance documents you can have as a self-employed courier.
It usually comes with upper and lower limits on the level of cover per consignment, so if you’re regularly transporting high-value packages (for example, if you have a contract with an art gallery and move paintings or works of art around on their behalf), you’ll need to increase your level of cover accordingly. What you don’t want is to be underinsured, as any claim against you for loss or damage of goods in transit will impact your finances heavily.
Public liability insurance
This may seem like a ‘belt and braces’ addition to the Goods in Transit insurance discussed above, but PLI gives you some extra coverage to protect you against compensation claims if a third party is injured or their property is damaged by you while you’re working. So for example, if you dropped a heavy package on the recipient’s foot, they could make a claim against you for personal injury compensation!
Public Liability cover means that you’re financially protected against the legal costs of a compensation claim for personal injury or damage to property. The insurance company would also defend the claim for you, so you could get on with your business rather than spending time dealing with legal paperwork.
Interruption of earnings insurance
Being a van courier has its perks. You’re your own boss, you can work whenever you want to, and you’re not tied to an office desk all day long. However, the reality is that you’re going to be working long, hard hours to earn a decent living. If you’re unable to work for any reason, you’ll quickly realise just how much of an impact it has on your finances.
Bear in mind that if you’re self-employed, you don’t have the usual entitlements that employed drivers have, such as holiday pay and statutory sick pay. If you fall ill or are injured and can’t work, your cashflow effectively dries up overnight. And if you’re the major earner in a household, that can affect everyone.
Interruption of earnings insurance means that you’ll have some money coming in while you recover, so you can be sure that bills such as rent and mortgage repayments, or other essentials are covered without you having to dip into an overdraft or max out your credit cards.
High risks goods cover
If you are regularly transporting hazardous goods then you must tell your insurance company beforehand. Failure to do so could invalidate your cover, leaving you severely out of pocket. Don’t forget that some insurers won’t cover very high-risk consignments such as chemicals or goods that require a special licence or certification.
If your bookings take you overseas, you’ll need to make sure that the insurance you have covers you for operating outside the UK. It’s also wise to make sure you’ve got full breakdown cover, preferably with a courtesy vehicle as part of your package deal. The last thing you want is to be left stranded with a broken-down van and unable to fulfil your clients’ requirements!
Planning a career change to become a self-employed courier? Talk to the professionals
If you’re not sure what kind of cover you need, the best thing to do is to talk to a professional broker who has experience in providing specialist cover for van couriers. They will be able to tell you exactly what you need, and find the best deal so that you’re not paying too much for your insurance package.
At Easy2Insure, we know how difficult it can be to find the right courier van insurance, especially when you simply don’t have the time to sit down and hunt for deals online. Instead, the simple option is to talk to us. Our experienced brokers know exactly what you’re looking for, and are able to put together courier van insurance packages that don’t cost the earth. It’s quick, simple, and easy to make sure you have all the right cover you need, so you can focus on building your business. Call us or use our online contact form to find out more.