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Guide to truck insurance

If you’re looking to take a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) on the road then it’s a legal requirement that your truck has appropriate insurance, something that can offer protection to you, other drivers and any third parties.

The lorry will even need to be covered if you don’t intend to drive it, unless you’ve registered it as being off the road with a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN).

These basic principles will apply if you’re an owner-operator looking to insure a single truck or a fleet owner looking to cover all your lorries.

In this respect, truck insurance doesn’t differ from the requirements for covering cars, vans or other types of vehicle. But the nature of a HGV means that it’ll require a dedicated truck policy and you should be aware of a variety of issues when shopping around for the right cover.

When you look for a HGV policy, you’ll be asked for the same contact and personal details as you would when buying cover for any other type of vehicle, but you should also expect questions on things like the nature of your business, the size of a fleet, the number of drivers and the sort of cover you may require in Europe.

While some lorry owners will have straightforward requirements, others may have complicated or unusual needs, which is why many truck insurance providers offer a free phone number or call-back service; by speaking to an insurer in person you may be able to sort out the right bespoke cover to suit your situation.

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HGV licences
The first step to ensuring that your HGV insurance is valid is by making sure that all drivers on the policy hold the appropriate professional driving qualification called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).†

Depending on the weight of the vehicle and other criteria, if your truck is put to any goods-carrying business use then drivers will be required to hold an appropriate operator’s licence.†

Types of truck insurance
As with other types of vehicle insurance, there are three main types of cover for HGVs.

Third party only truck insurance (TPO)
Third party only is the minimum level insurance required by law for drivers in the UK. It covers:

Liability for injury to others (including passengers)
Damage to third party property
Liability while towing a caravan or trailer

Third party, fire and theft truck insurance (TPFT)
Third party, fire and theft covers everything that third party does, but also:

  • Fire damage
  • Theft of truck
  • Damage to your lorry caused during theft
  • Comprehensive truck insurance

A comprehensive policy will provide you with the most extensive level of cover, including everything covered by third party, fire and theft, and usually:

  • Loss or damage to your lorry
  • Windscreen cover
  • Personal effects
  • Accidental damage
  • Medical expenses
  • Check the terms of your own policy carefully to find out exactly what is and isn’t included.

Telematics truck insurance
Telematics car insuranceTelematics policies use a black box or mobile phone app to calculate premiums based on the standard and nature of your driving. This is a rapidly growing area of the insurance market and it’s popular with commercial fleets, where it can be used to monitor the performance of different drivers.

Fleet insurance
If you have a number of HGVs, insuring them all as part of a fleet may well be cheaper and more convenient than covering them individually.

Insurers will have different criteria regarding how many trucks you need to make up a fleet, but this can be as low as two. There’s also likely to be a cap placed on the number of lorries that make up a fleet, but this may run into hundreds, or even thousands.

What do insurers class as a HGV?
You’re unlikely to find a standard classification of a HGV for insurance purposes and the sort of cover you require will depend on the type of vehicle you own and the use you put it to.

All HGV policies vary and some will be catered specifically to the individual needs of the truck owner.

As just one example, a small proportion of truck owners may not put their vehicle to any sort of commercial use. In such cases, owners of smaller, lighter trucks may find that a private van insurance policy  is right for them, but owners of larger, heavier vehicles may require a specialist truck policy.

Again, there’s no standard classification for the weight of a HGV. Some insurers may set the limit as low as 3.5 tonnes, others may specify, say, 7.5 tonnes.

You’re likely to find that the upper weight limit is capped by insurers; 44 tonnes is quite typical, but many go up to 60 tonnes, and specialist insurers may cover weights of 200 tonnes or even more.

Commercial truck insurance
The vast majority of HGV owners do put their vehicles to commercial use, and HGV insurance is typically aimed at this group. Categories of business use include carriage of own goods, carriage of goods for hire or reward and haulage.

The differences between haulage and carriage of goods for hire or reward are subtle, and policy wording may even be identical.

But, strictly speaking, the reward or hire classification tends to apply to drivers delivering to many addresses, while haulage tends to be for drivers taking a single load to a drop point a long distance away. A haulage insurance policy can also cover courier work.

Cover for hazardous goods and locations
If your HGV is used to carry hazardous goods, you need to be aware that this is a typical exclusion on many truck insurance policies.

There are firms who will cover the transit of hazardous material, but make sure you know this is included in the terms and conditions of your policy. If in any doubt, speak to the insurer before taking out your cover.

What else can truck insurance cover?
All policies will vary and some will include a wide range of cover as standard, others will offer additional protection for extra payment, and others will only offer basic cover. Some of the options to look out for include:

  • Employers’ liability insurance (a legal requirement if you’re employing drivers)
  • Public liability insurance
  • Goods in transit cover
  • Personal accident and sickness insurance
  • Truck breakdown cover
  • Legal cover
  • Income protection
  • Commercial property cover
  • Uninsured loss recovery
  • Cut the cost of truck insurance

There are things specific to HGV insurance that may help you cut the cost of cover, such as:

  • Consider fleet cover if you have multiple vehicles
  • Ensure the drivers you employ have experience and clean records (it’s typical for insurers to exclude drivers under the age of 25, or to charge an extra premium for them)
  • Make employed drivers responsible for their own excesses
  • Install cameras that can determine liability in the event of an accident
  • Fit security devices appropriate to the nature of the vehicle and work
  • Have a safe location for the overnight storage of vehicles when at base

You can also work on the things that can reduce the price of all sorts of motor insurance, starting with shopping around for the right deal and reviewing your options every year to avoid the perils of auto-renewal. In terms of general money-saving tips, also think about the following:

  • Try to build up a no-claims bonus
  • Pay annually rather than monthly
  • Increase your voluntary excess
  • Avoid making modifications to your truck(s)
  • Consider advanced driving qualifications for drivers
  • Only pay for the cover you need, avoiding unnecessary packaged add-ons