Is it a car, or is it a van?

The growing number of cross over vehicles is making it harder to distinguish between a car and a van.

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We can all tell the difference between a Ford Transit and a Volkswagen Golf.

But what about a Vauxhall Corsavan, which is based on a car design?

Or how about a Land Rover Discovery with its luxurious interior?

Is it a car or a van?

You might not think it matters, but it’s important to make the distinction when you arrange insurance. If you buy cover for a car that is classed a van, the policy could be invalid so it would not pay out in the event of a claim.

It doesn’t help that manufacturers, insurers and even HMRC all have their own definition of a van – and they don’t always agree.

However, as a general rule, a car is built for the primary purpose of carrying passengers. So, it will normally have carpets, as well as seats and side windows in the back. A van is designed for commercial or business use. It does not therefore typically come with seats or side windows at the rear. Instead, it will have some sort of load bay at the back.

If you are unsure about the classification of your vehicle, the manufacturer’s specifications will usually give you some idea. If the brochure refers to commercial or business use, it is probably a van. But if it’s full of references to social and pleasure use, you are almost certainly looking at a car.

You can also speak to your insurer. If you give the make and model of the car, and possibly the registration plate, the insurance company should be able to tell you whether you need van or car insurance.

But if you want the definitive answer, the best place to look is the log book. If you find the section on vehicle category, it will give you a letter and a number. If you see M1, it’s a car. If it’s N1 or N2, it’s a van and you need to arrange appropriate insurance.

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