Van security and your insurance

Find out how your van’s security affects the cost of your insurance and what you can do to improve it.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 18 February 2021  | 4 min read

Key points

  • Thieves usually target the weak spots on your van – security is one of the few vehicle modifications that might get you a discount on your insurance
  • The amount you save on your van insurance might not make up the amount you spend on security, but there are other benefits
  • Investing in some security measures could save you from having to make an insurance claim at all, as well as making your premiums cheaper

Why’s van security so important?

All vehicle-related crime is serious, but if your van's stolen it could have a serious knock-on effect for your business.

But it’s not just your van that’s at risk – if you carry tools in your van it might also hold thousands of pounds worth of equipment.

If your van’s broken into or stolen that could put a stop to your work, costing you even more.

What security does my van have already?

If your van was manufactured after 1998 it’ll have an immobiliser. Lots of newer vans also have an alarm fitted as standard.

Upgraded locks, alarms, immobilisers and trackers might have been offered as optional extras when you bought the van.

If your van’s not as secure as you’d like, you can add after-market security features, such as trackers, deadlocks, storage boxes and window grilles to enhance the factory-standard safety of your van.

How do thieves break into vans?

Thieves target the weak spots of your van – usually smashing the windows and picking the locks. But some thieves will target sliding doors, breaking into your van by pulling the sliding door down from the top.

Ruthless thieves will even cut through the thin metal sides of a van’s loading area to make off with cargo – a technique known as ‘peel and steal’.

Having said that, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found the most common way (44%) thieves broke in to a vehicle was through unlocked doors – so always double check your van is locked.

Method of entry in incidents of all vehicle-related theft
Door was not locked 44%
Offender broke window / tried to 18%
Offender manipulated signal from remote locking device 14%
Offender forced lock / tried to 13%
Offender used a key/electric fob 9%
Window was left open 1%
Offender forced / broke / bent / prised door 1%
Other 3%

Ways to make your van more secure

You can buy devices to improve your van’s security but check which ones insurers recognise first, to see if you’d get an insurance discount.

The cost of security devices might outweigh any insurance savings (at least in the short term), but there are other benefits, like deterring thieves and giving you peace of mind.

No matter which security measures you invest in, if you do become a victim of vehicle crime your insurance premiums are likely to rise in the future.

1. Overnight parking

The more secure your van’s parking environment, the less likely it is to be stolen.

Keeping your van on your driveway or in a locked garage, if possible, could reduce the cost of your insurance.

Most insurers will cover your tools while they're in transit in your van, but won’t cover them left in the vehicle overnight

2. Alarms

Having an alarm fitted is a great deterrent to thieves.

Just make sure the alarm you pick is recognised by your insurer to benefit from a potential discount – most insurers accept those with Thatcham certification.

3. GPS trackers for vans

The downside is your van must have already been stolen for a tracker to be useful, but at least you’ve got a higher chance of finding it again.

Some trackers are vulnerable to GPS-jamming techniques, so talk to a security expert to find the best option.

Always keep proof of installation for both trackers and alarm systems.

4. Van signage

If you have a commercial van, printing your business name and details on it makes your vehicle unique.

A respray will take thieves time and cost them money, so it’s a good deterrent.

5. Remove and secure contents

Don’t leave tools and equipment in your van overnight, as your insurer probably won’t cover unattended items.

To keep items safe while you’re on the road, consider a vault box for anything particularly valuable, and roof-mounted locks for exterior items such as ladders.

Make a list of all the tools and equipment you carry in your van, so you’ll know exactly what’s there – or what’s not – if your van's broken into while you’re out on a job.

6. Compare van security locks

Deadlocks, slamlocks, lock protection plates, slam plate handles, and anti-pick cylinders are just a few of the security measures you can have fitted.

Many of these options are visible, so they’re an instant deterrent for thieves. Loom guards might also come in handy for older van models, as they protect door cables from being cut.

Are van deadlocks any good?

Yes, any additional security you add to your van can only help, but deadlocks can be picked. Still, it’d take longer for a thief to get through multiple layers of security, so there’s no harm in having one. 

According to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), more than a third of thefts from builders were from vans.

Catalytic converter theft

Catalytic converters are full of precious metals, like platinum, palladium and rhodium, plus they’re a lot easier to access on a van, making them an attractive target for thieves.

You can get locks or invest in security markings to make it more difficult to steal and sell on.

Key fobs

It’s good practice to check your van doors are locked after pressing the button on your key fob.

Thieves can disrupt the signal, reprogram it or clone it, which would leave your van vulnerable, just like with keyless car theft.

Van security and your insurance premiums

You need at least third party only (TPO) van insurance to legally drive it, but that won’t cover your van if it’s stolen or broken into. 

If you want to improve your van’s security, and compare van insurance, check whether any insurers will offer a discount based on the devices you choose – as well as making your vehicle safer, you could get cheaper premiums too. 

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