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The Changing Face of UK Van Drivers

You may be forgiven for thinking that vans are only driven by builders, painters and carpenters, but new MoneySuperMarket data shows that vans are increasingly being used for domestic and leisure purposes. In fact, with an average of 8,326 individuals1 a month being redirected from their car insurance search to van insurance, it seems that more people own vans than they realise!

From pick-ups and flat-beds to dropsides and crews, over 350,000 vans have been registered in the UK this year alone2, when fewer than 260,000 were registered just five years ago in the same period. As demand for vans rises, MoneySuperMarket’s latest research analyses who exactly is searching for van insurance quotes. It reveals that vans are now being driven by a varied and eclectic range of people for purposes other than work and as a convenient alternative to a car on a day-to-day basis.

Vans and their drivers

With thousands of Brits relying on vans every day, it’s not surprising that a huge range of people enquire about van insurance. One study suggests that the stereotype of the white van man might soon become a thing of the past, with women making up 32 per cent of all van owners3. Of those who searched for van insurance on MoneySuperMarket, 74,817 drivers were female out of a total of 728,544, and the average age of all drivers was 41.

The same study also suggests that 40 per cent of vans are used for activities other than business3.

Whilst builders, plumbers and electricians are still more likely to own a van than people in other professions – vicars, professional knitters and even a ‘chicken chaser’ looked for quotes on MoneySuperMarket - there’s a trend towards vans becoming the vehicle of choice for those who don’t necessarily rely on them to make a living. 

The United Kingdom of Van Drivers: a cross-section of quote enquiries into van insurance

In addition, MoneySuperMarket saw 76,250 users being navigated away from the car insurance quote engine to van insurance after inputting their registration details and being prompted by the system5. Whilst this could imply that many van drivers may not be aware that a different type of insurance is required, it also suggests that many people may also not know that they own a van, not a car.

Pre-existing claims of van drivers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Building up a no claims discount is something most drivers aim for, however the data shows that many van drivers have pre-existing claims for a number of issues including theft, accidents and damage. But which drivers are most likely to have made a claim?

Looking at proportionate rates of quote enquiries by occupation versus the number of claims made, the data highlights that property developers are most likely to have a claim on their insurance with 1 in every 4.22 having done so6. Builders are most likely to have caused an accident, with 3,052 of them needing to make a claim as a result7.

The top five occupations most likely to have a pre-existing claim proportionate to the number of quote enquiries made by those occupations

Accident-prone drivers

While builders have the highest total number of claims for causing an accident, they are also the most prevalent profession in the dataset. When we looked at proportionate numbers of the ten most common occupations, it’s plumbing and heating engineers that come out on top. One in every nine have made a claim as a result of an accident they caused, followed by company directors (one in 10), carpenters (one in 11) and joiners (one in 12).

When it comes to the make of the vehicle our data shows Ford van drivers are the biggest culprits, whether they’re cutting into the lane of a third-party, reversing into another car or causing an accident by skidding. In fact, one in every four van drivers who have made a claim for some kind of accident in which they were at fault were Ford drivers. So, although there are a larger number of Ford vans on the road than any other brand –the Ford Transit consistently being the best selling van in the country8 – they still appear to have been involved in a disproportionately high number of accidents in which the van driver is at fault.

But who are the most accident prone Ford drivers? Again, when looking at the proportionate figures, builders are the most common Ford van drivers with a total of 42,900 enquiries for a quote - and one in every 18 had a pre-existing claim for an accident that was their fault. Carpenters, company directors, and plumbing and heating engineers were also commonly prone to have caused accidents which resulted in them having to make a claim.

The top ten van brands owned by the most accident-prone van drivers

Looking at van drivers on the whole, it seems that they are causing accidents more often than being the victim of them. In fact, they have professed to being the guilty party in 62 per cent of occasions in which they have made claims, which may indicate some safety concerns for van drivers.

Ratio of claims made by van drivers who caused an accident vs those who were the victim in an accident


That isn’t to say that all claims by van drivers are due to accidents they’ve caused. Far from it; it seems that van owners have had their fair share of misfortune when it comes to their vehicles.

When looking at the combined number of thefts, damage and accidents in which a van driver was the innocent party, there have been a grand total of 33,157 previous claims by those looking for insurance.

Of those, just under 30 per cent were Ford drivers, with Vauxhall (15 per cent), Volkswagen (12 per cent) and Mercedes-Benz (8 per cent) filling out the top spots.

Percentage of thefts, damage and accidents in which the driver was not at fault, by van type

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1 Data refers to the average from the number of sessions on the car insurance journey on the MoneySuperMarket website that trigger a van registration message, with the user then clicking the link and loading the van question page. From September 2017 – September 2018, excluding June, July and September due to a fault in the system.

2 https://www.smmt.co.uk/vehicle-data/lcv-registrations/


4 Data refers to the number of sessions on the van insurance journey on the MoneySuperMarket website between January – July 2017 and January – July 2018

5Data refers to total number of redirected sessions from the car insurance journey on MoneySuperMarket that trigger a van registration message between September 2017 – May 2018.

6 Data refers to occupations most likely to have a pre-existing claim proportionate to the number of quote enquiries made by those occupations between January-July 2018.

7 Data refers to number of builders who have pre-existing claims for accidents and who made quote enquiries between January-July 2017 and January-July 2018.

8 https://www.smmt.co.uk/vehicle-data/lcv-registrations/


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