Which van should you use for your business?

Panel? Luton? Temperature-controlled? Buying the right van to get your business on the road requires some serious consideration.

Your vehicle is not only the basis for your livelihood, it may well be where you or your staff spend several hours of each working day.

Whether you’re buying or leasing, just setting up as a sole trader or looking for a fleet of vans for your small business, we want to help you get on the road as quickly as possible. Read on for our guide to vans and van insurance.


What should you consider when buying a van?

First up, have a good think about your business needs.

How heavy are the goods you will be transporting? Remember that vans have ‘design gross weights’ – the maximum they can legally weigh. That limit includes the van itself, the driver and passengers, the fuel and the goods.

How bulky will your cargo be? You’ll need a cargo area long and high enough for your business.

Will you be transporting fragile, breakable, or perishable goods? If your cargo is hazardous, take a look at the legislation around packaging and labelling. Don’t forget that fragile goods take up a surprising amount of space: they often need bulky packaging, and might have to be transported a certain way up.

What kind of access do you need? Most vans are rear access only, and some have tail lifts for ease of loading and unloading.

What about people? Will it be just you and a passenger, or a team?

These are all things you need to consider when searching for van insurance to make sure you get the right policy for your needs.


Couriers and small delivery drivers

As internet shopping continues to rise, more and more people are spotting the opportunity to set themselves up as couriers or delivery drivers. It’s a great way for young drivers to get started in their courier careers.

If you’re likely to be handling only small, lightweight parcels, then a car-derived van will fit the bill. From the outside, they look pretty much like a car – but inside, the lack of back seats tells a different story.

Their loading weight is just two tonnes, and they handle like a car. Perfect for nipping round town, and no trouble to park. According to AutoExpress, Citroen Berlingo, the Ford Transit Connect and the VW Caddy are the top three best small vans to buy in 2019.

Man driving silver van with smile on his face

‘Man with a van’

The all-rounder of the van world is undoubtedly the trusty panel van. These have two or three seats up front, a large cargo area at the back, and blanked out panels in the window area.

They’re big enough to carry larger loads but small enough to be easy to drive, making them a top choice for courier drivers across the country. Delivery drivers who need a bit more space should consider these, too.

Ford Transits and Mercedes Sprinters are popular makes, but there’s a wide range for you to choose from, and several different wheelbases and heights, too.

If you need to carry more passengers but still need room for cargo, you can buy double cab or crew cab vans with an extra row of seats.



Transporting larger items such as furniture? A box or Luton van might be the best choice for this type of business.

They have separate cabs where you can sit in comfort and safety, plus a large cargo area – often big enough for the contents of a flat. Luton vans have a space over the driver’s cab, too.

They are high off the ground as they sit on the chassis with no wheel arch intrusions into the load area. Access is via the rear doors, usually with a tail lift for easy loading so you can spare your back and keep your business on the road.



If you’re handling food or perishable goods, then a temperature-controlled van keeps your customers healthy and your business on the right side of health and safety legislation.

Fortunately it’s only the cargo area, not the cab, that’s chilled!

If you’re transporting a lot of glass bottles, remember that they are not only breakable but heavy, too. Make sure the van you buy can take a heavy load.

Don’t forget: when you’re in the catering business, somebody’s wedding or special event is at stake, so make sure you’re covered by quality van insurance.


Florists, cleaners, photographers, mobile hairdressers

Many people set up as cleaners with a simple estate car. But if you’re offering extras such as carpet cleaning, you might need more space for your specialist equipment.

A simple car-derived van should get your business up and running ­– models like the Ford Fiesta van or the Renault Clio van should do the trick. In fact, these are ideal for any profession that needs a bit of space for equipment, but not too much.
Man getting box of flowers out of the back of his van

Light trades

If you’re an electrician, plumber, gardener or painter and decorator, then your van will probably double-up as your office. You’ll want to be able to access the tools of your trade quickly but also have room in the front for writing up invoices and paperwork.

For relatively small and light kit – as might be the case for electricians and handymen – then a car-derived van might fit the bill.

If you carry bulky goods, such as gardening or decorating tools, then consider a panel van. Popular models right now include the Ford Transit Custom and the VW T6 Transporter. Remember to factor in anything you might need to transport for customers, too.

And above all: make sure you get good van insurance. This van is your livelihood and a big investment after all.


Builders and scrap dealers

If you need to transport large, bulky, heavy items, dropside and flatbed vans are best suited to your needs.
They all have long wheelbases and can take heavy loads. Goods can be loaded and unloaded by forklift or crane.

Because they’re open to the elements, they’re not suitable for valuable goods.

For serious vans like these, you’ll need some serious van insurance – get a quote from Insurance Factory today.


Niche businesses

Haven’t found the right van for your business? Then how about getting one converted?

A chassis cab is supplied as a simple cab plus platform, which you can get upfitted however you like. It can be converted into a dropside, a tipper – you name it, there’s somebody out there who can adapt it into the perfect van for your unique business.


Buy the right insurance for your van

Insurance Factory compares quotes from providers for a wide variety of vans and operations, from scrap dealing to transporting hazardous goods to vans intended solely for personal usage.
Even if you’re young or have a driving conviction, we can help you find the right van insurance to get your small business up and running. Get your quote today.