Looking to hire a van? Your guide to choosing the right van and using it safely

There are more than 4 million van drivers in the UK, and they rack up almost 50 billion miles each year. The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) reported an increase of 9% in average van fleet sizes and demand for new vans is at a record level. It means that if you hire a van for the first time, you’ll definitely not be the only first-time hirer out on the road.

But whether you’re moving home, helping with waste removals or transporting a piece of furniture, hiring a van for the first time can be stressful. Which company to go with? Which van to choose? And how to protect any deposit you paid?

Choosing your van

Many van hire businesses offer similar types of vans, so it’s worth choosing the right van for you before you choose which company to hire from. Usually, vans are categorised as:

  • Small vans: a Renault Kangoo or similar. Short-wheelbase (SWB) vans tend to have a maximum payload of less than 900kg. Good for small personal or commercial use
  • Medium vans: a Vauxhall Vivaro or similar. SWB vans which can fit most domestic appliances. Good for hiring in urban areas where you need to park
  • Large vans: a Renault Master or similar. Long-wheelbase (LWB) vans have an impressive payload and are much taller than medium vans
  • Extra-large vans: a Mercedes Sprinter or similar. LWB vans have superior space and max. payload. Great if you’re moving out or transporting a lot of goods
  • Luton Box vans: Ford Luton or similar. Usually the largest van available to hire with extra space and payload. Also available with a tail-lift, perfect if you’re transporting heavy items

If you’re not sure of the size of van you’ll need, it’s best to opt for one that’s too large than one that’s too small.

Choosing the company

Once you know which van you need, check online for local van hire businesses. Read reviews and get quick quotes by calling the company directly. You can often haggle over the price if it’s a quieter period in the year.

Remember to check the hire requirements of each company. Some have deposit, age and licence points restrictions which could affect your decision.

When you come to pick the hired van up, an inspector will usually go over any defects present prior to hiring. Make sure you agree with these and don’t leave anything to chance. It’s worth taking photos of the van at all angles to ensure no blame can possibly be attached to you later down the line.

Staying safe

Whatever it is you’re doing with the van, make sure you adopt safety best practices. If you’re lifting heavy items, do you require another pair of hands? If your items need to be secured, use appropriate straps. Wear grip gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) if necessary.

If you hire a Luton box van with a tail-lift, make sure you operate the lift with full safety and adhere to any instructions given to you by the hire company. Parking is often an issue for inexperienced hirers. Take your time and don’t try to get into a gap that’s simply too tight. If you’re parking on the road, be wary of oncoming traffic and other risks.

When you come to drop off the hired van, the hire company will inspect the van for any new faults. If a question is raised, you can refer back to the photos you took prior to hiring for proof.

Whilst all the compulsory insurance is included with hiring a van, you might often find some of the benefits you’re used to work a little differently. This includes excess and how much you might have to pay up-front should an incident occur.

If you’d like to speak about additional or alternative cover options, call the Chartered brokers at Hine on 0161 438 0000.

Andy Guy
Andy Guy

Hi there! I'm Andy, I'm the Head of Charity and Faith Insurance at Hine Insurance with over 30 years experience.

In my spare time, I'm a trustee of a church and I enjoy walking and getting to grips with the garden.

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