When it’s time to choose the vehicle you wish to use for your business, the best thing you can do is prioritise the security of your van above anything else.
While no van is 100% secure, standards in the industry are rising fast. The ratings from collected research on this subject have had a direct effect on the insurance groups of every vehicle in the UK.
A research institute called ‘Thatcham’ makes their information on ratings freely available via their MyVehicle Search tool. To access them, all you need to do is create an account and search for your chosen model, to find out what insurance group your prospective new van would fall under.
After that, all that’s left is to consult your insurer to get a rough idea of how much a premium for your chosen van will cost. Just make sure to do this before you make a final purchase decision. This will all be beneficial to you in the long run, as you’ll reduce the need to make modifications later on down the line.
When you’re browsing the market for a new vehicle, there’s a lot you can look out for to ensure that your van will have good security. However, it isn’t all about the latest technology. For instance, if the van has rear windows it will advertise the van’s contents to thieves. Aspects like this should be taken into account when making a purchasing decision.
Insurance on your new van
As with any subject, it’s best to ask your insurance provider certain questions before taking out insurance. So that if the worst happens, you know you have adequate cover to meet your needs. Here are the most appropriate questions for your van’s insurance:
- What’s included in the policy and what’s expected from me?
- Are goods in transit included in the policy?
- Is windscreen and window repair covered by the insurance?
- If personal belongings are damaged or stolen will this be covered by the policy?
- Will a replacement van be provided if mine is stolen or damaged?
- Will the van’s contents (other than personal belongings) be insured in the event of damage or theft?
If you already have your vehicle and don’t want to replace it, there are modifications that you can make to improve its security.
Just bear in mind that some modifications could actually increase your premiums or even void your policy. So, consider these modifications carefully and discuss any proposed modifications with your insurer.
Not only that, but there is an overall cost to consider too. Even if your modification does reduce your premiums, there is of course no guarantee that the saving will outweigh the cost of the work done on your van.
With all this in mind, here are some of the most effective ways to improve van security.
Invest in a vehicle tracking GPS
This is one of the more popular and high-tech ways to boost security. Trackers are available from as little as £20 – £40, but the more dependable systems are likely to run into the hundreds of pounds. These systems have been provided by market leaders such as ‘CobraTrak’, ‘Trafficmaster’ and ‘Smartrack’. If the price is a little out of your range, there are also subscription models available to reduce upfront costs.
Traditional methods to improve van security include procedures such as installing heavier duty van locks. The most common modifications are deadlocks, which are used independently of the van’s existing locking mechanism, and offer protection from brute force attacks.
A deadlock needs to be locked and unlocked with a key. Which means that the door needs to be locked twice, so the system is only as dependable as the person responsible for operating it. Unlike Slamlocks which are similar, except they lock automatically when the door closes.
Other available methods for security modifications include:
- Catalytic converter protection systems
- Steel plates to protect your door handles and mechanisms.
- A steering wheel lock. This is a lower-cost addition that does not involve any modifications to the vehicle or a complex installation process.
These tools, while a bit old fashioned compared to the sophisticated vehicle alarm systems around today, still have their uses: Thatcham continues to accredit steering wheel locks that you can buy for £50 to £100.
Never leave valuables in your van
While this may seem like an obvious point, you’d be surprised. Many vans have a sticker that informs would-be thieves that no valuables are left unattended in their vehicle overnight. Unfortunately, there are many drivers who fail to practice what they preach.
It goes without saying that the best way to protect valuables overnight is to take them out of your van to store them in a secure location.
Of course, when it’s time for the hustle and bustle of day, you can’t be expected to lock your door every time you grab a few tools. Instead, consider investing in a lockable tool safe to add an extra layer of deterrent, particularly against opportunist thieves.
Choose your parking spots carefully
Another obvious one to some, but there are those who aren’t sure what to look out for.
Avoid poorly-lit carparks and empty streets with less people around. Bear in mind that if you tend to park while the sun is still up, it’s easy to miss this simple step. If you can, go back to the parking spot at night to check its condition if you’re not sure. Also look out for streetlights and anticipate where the darker corners of the car park will be before you choose your spot.
Even if you’re parking in your own driveway, you should still consider taking some straightforward security measures, like installing security lights or a lockable gate.
When it comes to insurance and parking, one of the most important steps to follow is to park your van where you told your insurer you will be parking it. Therefore, if you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to theft, you will not risk the invalidation of your policy.
Keep a record of what’s in your van
Keeping a detailed inventory of the contents of your van will help you immensely if you have to make a claim on your insurance.
It could also have a secondary benefit, as it will remind you of the value of all your tools and equipment – which in it’s own right is a good motivation to take sensible security precautions. As tradespeople tend to build their collections of tools over many years, it’s very easy to underestimate their total value and to become blasé about protecting them.
For particularly expensive items, keep receipts in order to simplify the claims process if it comes to it – just make sure not to store them in your van!
Make your staff aware of van security
You may remember to lock your doors and unload your van at night, but are you as confident about those who work with or for you?
If other people have access to your van, make sure they are well informed about its security features and understand your expectations. And if you have an employee induction programme, we highly recommended that you include some security training so that it becomes part of the culture of your business.