1. Home
  2. /
  3. Fleet management
  4. /
  5. What is a Commercial...

What is a Commercial Vehicle?

May 2, 2019

The definition of a commercial vehicle according to the Collins Dictionary is ‘a vehicle for carrying goods or (less commonly) passengers’

When it comes to insurance, a vehicle which is used during the course of business can be referred to as a commercial vehicle. And this will affect the type of insurance that you need to purchase to ensure that you are adequately covered.

What types of vehicle are classed as a commercial vehicle?

Whilst this is usually down to the use rather than the type of vehicle, a range of vehicles can be classed as a commercial vehicle:

• Goods Carrying Vehicles ( vans, pick -ups , open lorries , trucks including containers)
• Hire Cars ( private ,public, self- drive hire )
• Agricultural Vehicles ( tractors, trailers , harvesters et al )
• Vehicles of Special Construction ( ambulances, cranes, dumpers, hearses, mechanical plant , mobile canteens , road rollers, tippers et al )

We are concerned here solely with Goods Carrying Commercial Vehicles

Goods Carrying Vehicles

We need to consider three keys areas:

Type of Vehicle

o Containers are considered by insurers to be part of the vehicle. Always insure to the greatest value
o Be careful around modifications or alterations to basic vehicle specs as this will increase the value of replacement
o Loading and Unloading capability


o Carrying operators own goods
o Hire and reward in the carriage of goods for other businesses
o Typical journey times
o Dangerous goods
o Carrying of passengers


o Most insurers have “open” driving providing and subject to appropriate licences, convictions or prosecutions.
o Younger drivers may be excluded from certain vehicles or have larger excesses in the event of a claim.

Do I need an Operators License ?

You need a goods vehicle operator’s licence if your business uses goods vehicles above a certain weight.

You need a licence to carry goods in a lorry, van or other vehicle with either:

• a gross plated weight (the maximum weight that the vehicle can have at any one time) of over 3,500 kilograms (kg)
• an unladen weight of more than 1,525 kg (where there is no plated weight)

Why is it important to know if you operate a commercial vehicle or not?

The scale and scope of cover offered by insurers for commercial vehicle owners varies a lot.

It would be rare for a commercial vehicle to be insured for a legal minimum – Road Traffic Act cover. This is mainly due to the fact that commercial vehicles are a significant investment that need protection. However, cost and availability of covers may mean this is the only legal route for some customers.


• Loss of, or damage to the vehicle , spare parts and accessories ( whilst attached )
• Windscreen and Windows – mostly standard
• Trailers
• Third party vehicle damage , damage to property ( often limited but £50m not uncommon) ,unlimited indemnity in respect of death of, or   bodily injury to , any person
• Uninsured Loss Recovery – often to £100,000
• Medical Expenses
• Personal Accident

Third Party including Fire or Theft (or excluded) only

• Third party vehicle damage, damage to property (often limited but £50m not uncommon) ,unlimited indemnity in respect of death of, or bodily injury to , any person.

Many people believe that a standard motor insurance policy will cover them for work related purposes. Yet many motor insurance policies only provide cover for social and commuting use. Choosing a policy like this when in fact you operate a commercial vehicle can mean your insurance is invalid if something does happen because work use (other than commuting to a single place of work) isn’t covered.

Commercial vehicle insurance will provide a greater range of cover specific to your needs. If you have any questions about your vehicle and which policy is right for you then do get in touch with us. We have over 30 years’ experience in the commercial vehicle sector and a dedicated commercial motor team who will be happy to help.

Get a Quote

You can call us during normal office hours, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Outside of office hours you can either email us or leave an answerphone message and we promise to get back to you the next working day.

General enquiries:
020 8290 4560

Sign up for news

* indicates required