Design is the key to reducing van insurance from 2016

In 2013, the Association of British Insurers instructed the market that the current system it uses for assessing vans wasn’t fit for purpose. Two decades without an upgrade, they had a point. In the last five years alone, new vans rolling off the production are a world apart from their predecessors.

The new system, against which all new vans will be rated, is here and will be with us next year. It moves away from the current weight-centric system and focuses on different metrics. Where before there were 20 bands covering van insurance there’ll now be 30. The additional criteria focus heavily on design, including repair time.

The latter is important and it seems strange that no measure for time spent in the garage was included in the current system. If a van only has to spend 24 hours in repair instead of a week, it would reduce the volume of cover vehicles an insurer has to have on standby. The actual cost of replacement units aside, labour cost of repairs should also come tumbling down.

The current problem with weight-centric insurance bands sees certain weights of light commercial vehicles creating a bottleneck. That will change rather than be replaced.

Shape is also a metric ignored now that has a bearing on van insurance cover costs. It will be addressed in the forthcoming update to the system with a new ‘geometric’ test. If the wheelbase, height, width and bumper-to-bumper measurement fit within a certain scale, geometry will also affect the cost of your cover. To reconcile these scales, the RCAR bumper test features heavily in the weighting criteria.

Using the new system to help choose your type of LCV

There are several points of note in the new system that may influence fleet managers and business owners in their buying decisions. Thatcham Research, driving the change to the system, have collated a list 19 of the most common replacement parts vans need when going in for repair.

It’s rare that a component that does a job on a Merc, say, is the same its counterpart on a Peugeot. True, having working in the automotive supply chain, I know that there are common parts across the commercial vehicle range. But they tend to be manufacturer-specific and not universal parts that could go onto any vehicle.

Why this is so beggars belief. The BS range (and subsequent ISO standard) was created for a reason. Why that can’t apply to fixings that hold an engine together Lord only knows. But no. Vehicle manufacturers do like to design their own parts, no matter how difficult they are to produce and actually get to line-side. But I digress…

…for the purpose of the new van insurance rating system, if one of the 19 common elements Thatcham have identified is more expensive on one make of vehicle than another, it will affect the insurance premium.

Another factor van drivers and fleet managers may want to keep their eye on is which of the manufacturers out there are looking to submit their existing vehicles to the new tests. Whilst the new system will apply to all news vans from next year, if an existing model meets the new safety and geometric criteria, it too could qualify for cheaper van insurance.

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