Have a van that needs to be insured? A normal car insurance policy should cover you.
If you want to get cover for your van, you'll find that many insurance policies will cover you under a standard car insurance policy.
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Is it mandatory to have van insurance in Australia?
Yes. Every vehicle on Australian roads must have compulsory third party (CTP) insurance, also known as your "green slip".
If you cause a crash, it will help pay for other people's injuries and sometimes your injuries depending on which state you live in, but that's where it stops. It doesn't cover your van, the other person's car or any other property you damage. That's all on you.
How can I get additional protection?
You can protect yourself even more by adding one of three optional levels of cover on top of your CTP. Depending on what level of cover you choose, the following forms of cover can essentially protect you from damage you cause and damage that you can't pinpoint on another driver.
- Third party property damage (TPPD). This is the most basic level of optional cover and will get you out of a few additional jams by covering any damage you cause to other people's property including cars, fences, signposts, animals and any other physical property. It won't cover your van but it's a good option if your van isn't worth a whole lot or you can easily afford to replace it.
- Third party, fire and theft (TPFT). This covers everything TPPD insurance does plus gives your van a minimal amount of cover, which in this case is protection against fire damage and theft. It won't cover you against accidents you cause or against any other type of natural disaster besides fire.
- Comprehensive. Comprehensive lets you say "no worries, mate". It covers everything TPFT does as well as almost everything else including accidents you cause, damage from unknown or uninsured drivers and most types of natural disasters.
What does each of these levels cover?
The following table shows which events TPPD, TPFT and comprehensive insurance will cover. The events your policy covers are called insured events.
|Event||Third party property damage||Third party fire and theft||Comprehensive|
|Damage to other people's property||Damage to their car|
|Damage to their other property|
|Damage to your van||Fire|
|Storm and hail|
|Hit and run|
|Hitting an animal|
|Hitting another car|
|Hitting another object|
|Additional features||Personal items cover|
|Key and lock replacement|
|New for old car replacement|
|Excess-free windscreen cover||Optional|
|Hire car cover|
What additional features are included in a van insurance policy?
Van insurance doesn't just end there. There are a range of features and additional options available that offer added protection. If your insurer does offer them, they might be included free of charge or they might be offered as an optional upgrade. It also depends on your level of cover.
- Personal items. This feature will help out with the cost of repairing or replacing damaged personal items like your backpack, laptop or pram. It's usually only available on comprehensive policies.
- Roadside assistance. This is usually an optional feature you can add to most types of policies. It means you help when your van breaks down or you get a flat tyre on the side of the road. Some comprehensive policies like Youi's will offer it for free, but this is rare.
- Flexible excess. Some insurers let you choose your excess, which is your share of the cost every time you make a claim. Choosing a higher excess can help you save on premiums and vice versa.
- Key and lock replacement. This pays to repair or replace your van's locks and keys if they're damaged in an insured event. It's usually included automatically but only with TPFT and comprehensive policies because those are the only policies that cover your van at all.
- New for old car replacement. If your van is still relatively new and it gets totalled in an insured event, having this feature will get you a brand-new van with similar specs. It basically lets you insure your van at an agreed value (the going rate of a new van at the time of the crash) at the less expensive market value rate (the value of your van at the time of the crash). It's usually only available with a comprehensive policy and the van usually needs to be less than two years old.
- Excess-free windscreen cover. If your windscreen is damaged in an insured event and it's the only part of your van that's damaged, this will let you repair your windscreen without paying anything out of pocket. It's usually only available on comprehensive policies and will usually be an optional add-on.
- Hire car cover. This pays you for the cost of a hire car if your van is undrivable after an insured event. It's usually only available on higher forms of cover like TPFT and comprehensive. Even then, many insurers will limit this to when your van is stolen and will ask you to pay an additional premium if you want to include other insured events.
What else should I look out for?
Once you've identified the level of cover you need and the features you want, there are a few additional aspects of your cover you'll need to be familiar with when you look for insurance.
You might consider these perks, as some insurers offer them and some don't.
- Agreed vs market value. This policy feature lets you choose between insuring your van for a specific sum of money (agreed value) or insuring it based on its depreciating value over time (market value). Most policies will limit you to market value, but having the ability to choose agreed value gives you more flexibility.
- No claim discount protection. Some insurers that offer no claim discounts (discounts that rack up over time when you don't claim) will agree not to penalise you for certain types of claims like weather-related ones.
- Choice of repairer. Some insurers will require you to use their favoured repairer whenever they pay to repair your van. However, others will let you choose which repairer you want. If you're picky about who works on your van, it makes sense to seek out an insurer that gives you that option. It won't be available on TPPD policies since those policies don't cover your van anyway.
Can I lower my van insurance premiums?
There are ways to save on your van insurance and still have a policy that covers what you need. Here are some tips to help you save:
- Keep your van safe. You can often save money by fitting your van with a security system and agreeing to store it in a locked garage. Even taking driver's safety courses can help you shave some money off your premiums.
- Insure your van at market value. Market value takes depreciation into consideration so that your premiums reflect the van's drop in value year after year. If you have a brand-new van and insure it for market value, make sure your policy offers "new for old replacement". This gives you about two years where your insurer will consider the value of your van to be that of a brand-new one.
- Pay your premiums annually. Some insurers might offer you a discount in return for paying your premiums yearly instead of monthly.
- Keep your eye out for discounts. There are a number of ways you can score discounts, including by paying your premiums annually, holding multiple insurance policies with the same insurer and signing up online.
- Rethink your level of cover. Periodically review your cover to determine whether it's offering value to you and ditch options you don't need. For example, if you don't drive often and rarely leave the city, you might not need roadside assistance. If your van's getting up in age and replacing it wouldn't break the bank, you should consider downgrading to TPPD only.
What excess will I have to pay on my van insurance in Australia?
Most insurance policies come with an excess, which is your share of the damage costs every time you make a claim. There are several different types of excesses:
- Basic excess. This is also called standard excess. It's the base level of excess for your policy and will apply to a majority of your claims. Some insurers will allow you to increase this excess and will then refer to the increase by another name such as your "voluntary excess" or "flexi excess", but it's really just a higher basic excess you've agreed to in return for lower premiums.
- Young or inexperienced driver excess. This is an additional excess that gets tacked on top of your basic excess if a young or inexperienced driver causes the accident leading to a claim. Insurers usually define this as anyone under 25 or someone 25 years or older who has only held a licence for a short amount of time.
- Driver history excess. Some insurers will charge an additional excess if the driver who caused the accident has had their licence suspended or restricted within a certain amount of time prior to crashing the van. This is tacked onto the top of any other excess you're responsible for.
- Non-nominated driver excess. Most policies will make you list out every driver that will be driving the van and a handful of policies that do so will apply an additional excess if an unlisted driver causes the crash. Be careful, because if your policy doesn't have a non-nominated driver excess, there's a chance non-nominated drivers aren't covered by your policy at all.
How much should I choose for my basic excess?
Not all policies let you choose your excess but if yours does, you should choose one that balances how comfortable you feel paying your monthly premium with how comfortable you feel paying your excess on any potential future claims. That's because when one is higher, the other is lower.
If you're a relatively safe driver, you may want to go with a higher excess in exchange for lower monthly premiums. If you never claim, you'll never pay that excess and you'll be saving money on a monthly basis.
But if you're the type of person who would lose it if they were faced with a large, unexpected excess charge all at once, you may want to go with a lower excess and pay slightly more on your month-to-month premiums.
How are my van insurance premiums calculated?
There are a number of factors that go into how your insurer calculates your premiums. Here are some of the most common:
- The kind of van you drive. The insurer will look at information like its make, model, age, engine size and safety rating. It may even look at things like how commonly these models are stolen.
- Your driving history. If you have a clean driving history, you're likely to pay less than someone with a trail of speeding tickets or a drink driving record.
- Your claims history. Even if your driving history is OK, you could still end up paying more if you have a long claims history. For example, if you're constantly getting your windshield repaired, your insurer might assume you constantly drive gravel roads and could therefore increase your premiums.
- The van's other drivers. You insurer will look at the age, driving history and claims histories of other drivers listed on your policy and adjust your premiums accordingly and/or apply special excesses.
- Where you live. If you live in a safe neighborhood and park your van in a locked garage, you're likely to pay less than someone who doesn't.
- How much you drive. Most insurers will ask you upfront how many kilometres you commonly drive per year and will use that information to help them calculate your premiums.
- Your excess. You can sometimes choose from a few different excess amounts. A higher excess will help lower the cost of your van insurance premiums and a lower excess will raise the cost.
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