Supermarkets offer us so much more than simple foodstuffs nowadays. But is, say, Tesco van insurance really the answer to your prayers? Would Asda’s offerings save you money on your current policy?
If you own or drive a van, getting your insurance through a supermarket may seem like a good move. Companies like Tesco and Asda – the only two retail giants to have branched out into van insurance in recent years – have a solid reputation, years of experience in the financial sector, and tend to offer competitive prices on most other products they sell.
It’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to believe they’d give you a good deal when your van insurance comes up for renewal.
But is it really all it’s hyped up to be? With so many insurance companies out there, it’s hard to know if you’re really getting the best value and service.
What are the benefits to choosing a supermarket policy?
As mentioned above, being a household name goes a long way towards creating customer confidence. Given that places like Asda and Tesco already offer such a broad selection of financial products such as banking services, loans and mobile phone contracts and, in the case of Tesco, have been doing so for the past 20 years, new clients tend to have faith in the competence of the company.
Equally, such an established business is unlikely to either fold or become embroiled in any kind of scam, both of which would invalidate any policy you held with them. Again, the perception of semi-invincibility that supermarkets hold does wonders for public opinion.
And what are the downsides?
However, there are some concerns that must be raised before you dive straight into supermarket insurance.
Firstly, Tesco no longer provides van insurance. No-one knows why, as it seemed to be a successful venture. But at some point in recent years, this feature has been quietly phased out. That leaves Asda as the sole chain out of the Big Four to offer cover for commercial vans – a situation which doesn’t exactly encourage healthy competition. As a result, you might find that premiums aren’t as competitive as you might have expected.
Secondly, when you actually looked at the terms and conditions of any supermarket policies, they offered little in the way of new or innovative features. Multiple named drivers, European cover and mobile repairs tend to be included, along with lock and key cover, plus legal protection and a courtesy vehicle – yet these are all common elements in many policies. In the days of Tesco van insurance, there was at least the chance to earn extra Clubcard points, but even that small joy has been taken from us.
Bringing Tesco back into the topic of conversation, in 2011 Tesco was probably the first retailer that introduced van insurance. At that time, it enhanced its offering by including courtesy vans in the event that your van had been stolen or damaged via an accident. It also provided a 10% Clubcard Discount, Lifetime Guaranteed repairs (under Tesco Van Assistance) multi-vehicle policies and 93 day Euro cover. What Tesco was offering was attractive but some comparison websites can now offer you van insurance quotes that are just as competitive as Tesco’s once was.
Finally, it’s rare for supermarkets to actually underwrite their own insurance. More common is for them to act as brokers or intermediaries for underwriting companies, many of whom underwrite policies for lots of other companies too, but who also give commission to Asda or Tesco every time a policy is sold. Tesco, for example, used Axa Insurance to underwrite their van insurance policies. That meant some of your premium isn’t going towards protecting your van, but is actually going to the supermarket as a thank you from Axa for gaining your custom!
Is a specialist provider better?
While there are many things in life where a specialist provider isn’t necessary, van insurance isn’t one of them. Think about it – vans are hugely important, some would argue that they’re the lifeblood of the economy. A van is a flexible solution that can adapt to tasks big and small, whether it’s delivering 600 toilet rolls to a local shop or a piano to your new house.
They can cope with major motorways or narrow country lanes without missing a beat, and can be used for business or pleasure. And in the case of gas engineer turned graffiti artist James Gibson, a filthy van is a great medium for a one-off masterpiece!
Being able to offer insurance that can cover such a multitude of uses is vital – but will your average high street company necessarily understand the complexities of van life? Unless they’re a driver or owner themselves, it’s unlikely. They might not realise that the contents of your van need insuring, especially if you keep tools or equipment in there. The size, shape and capacity of your van will also impact on your cover, and it’s a minefield when it comes to organising multiple named drivers for fleet vehicles!
Therefore, in order to ensure you get a policy that covers you and your vehicle for every eventuality, it’s worth using a comparison website to ensure that you get the right deal for you and your business, at the best price possible, and all from the comfort of your sofa.
What should I look for in a policy?
Whatever role your van plays in your life – whether it’s your daily workhorse, portable storage facility, overnight accommodation or weekend adventure machine – it’s crucial that you have the right insurance.
Van insurance can differ drastically from standard car insurance, so always check that your policy will cover you for the points listed below:
- Usage: Commercial or pleasure? Commercial vehicles tend to incur increased mileage, which insurers will take into account when calculating a premium.
- Vehicle type: The make, model and engine size all matter, as different vans fall into different insurance categories.
- Contents insurance: Are you planning to keep valuable tools, equipment or products in your van? If so, make sure you’re covered for theft or damage to them as well as your vehicle.
- Storage: If you’re parking your vehicle off-road most of the time, premiums can drop. If you tend to leave it in public carparks, depots or on the street, expect a hike.
- Specialist use policies: Vans driven by couriers or other professions where high mileage is a central part of the job can get specialised cover that takes into account excessive road use.
- Fleet or multiple named drivers: If you have several people that may all need to drive your van(s), it’s worth seeing if a fleet policy is easier/cheaper than insuring vehicles individually.
In order to get the best deal, it’s always worth shopping around. If you have friends or business contacts who are also van drivers/owners, get some recommendations to start you off. And if Tesco starts offering van insurance again anytime soon, you’ll soon hear about it.
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