Have you bought a minibus to accommodate your growing family? Or do you carry passengers in your vehicle for hire? Or perhaps you take your kids’ sport club to games. If you have a minibus, you’ll need specialized minibus insurance to protect your investment. Whether you’re using the minibus for business or for your family, you’ll need minibus insurance.
What is a Minibus?
A minibus is a vehicle that seats anywhere from 8 to 16 passengers but can also accommodate up to 23 passengers. These vehicles may be used for private or business purposes and are less than 3.5 tonnes and include surrounding windows.
This vehicle should not be confused with an MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle), which seats up to 7 passengers.
What Type of Insurance Do Need to Drive a Minibus?
This is where things can get a little complicated with a minibus. The Road Traffic Act 1988 requires all vehicles driven in the UK to carry the minimum insurance policy, which is called third party only insurance. So, you must legally have this type of insurance, as a minimum, to drive on roads in the UK.
Next, the type of insurance you choose will depend on how you use the minibus:
- Personal use: this type of minibus insurance policy is geared toward those who only use their vehicle to drive themselves and their family around.
- Private hire: in this situation, the minibus is used to carry passengers and goods for hire or reward.
- Carriage of passengers for contract hire: here, the vehicle is driven for purposes of carrying passengers under a contract arrangement (this may include tour guides, airport vehicles, etc.)
- Carriage of passengers: the minibus is only used for carrying passengers who aren’t required to pay a fare.
Once you’ve decided how the minibus will be used, then you can choose from three levels of minibus insurance coverage. These include:
Third party only: this is the minimum amount of insurance cover you’re legally required to have. It covers damage to others’ vehicles and any other medical/legal costs.
Third party fire and theft insurance: this covers everything protected in Third Party only policies, but also includes coverage of fire damage and theft of the minibus. This is the cheapest minibus insurance policy you can buy.
Fully comprehensive coverage: this type of policy offers the most protection for you and your business. It includes all of the above, and also covers any damage to your car or injuries you receive in an accident. This is the best coverage you can buy, but it is usually also the most expensive.
How is Minibus Insurance Different Than Car Insurance?
Minibus insurance is similar to car insurance. However, minibus insurance is often more expensive due to the size, it’s higher value and the larger number of seats. But your car insurance will not cover the minibus.
Even so, it’s sometimes possible to use your existing private car no claims bonus on the minibus policy. Some people choose to do this as it results in a discount on the minibus insurance.
What Type of License Do is Needed to Drive a Minibus?
You’ll need a category B car license and must meet the following conditions:
- To be over 21 years of age
- Have obtained your full UK license over 2 years previously
- Meet the Group 2 medical standards if you’re over 70 years of age.
- Must not tow a trailer behind the minibus
- Use the vehicle for social, pleasure, domestic and commuting to a single place of work
- The vehicle is used for social purposes by a non-commercial body but not for hire or reward
Depending on how you use the minibus, you may need to take some additional steps to make sure you have the right license.
1). Minibus insurance for non-commercial organizations: this includes charities, sports clubs, volunteer organizations. If you’re a part of a non-profit, individual organization that asks passengers to help pay for fuel and other expenses, then you’ll need to apply for a minibus permit. This is obtained from the DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) and is know as Section 19 Minibus permit. This allows you to charge and carry your org’s members and others. However, if you don’t ask passengers to help pay for the expenses of running the minibus, then you may not be required to have this permit.
2). Minibus insurance for hire and reward: for vehicles that have 9 seats (including the driver’s seat), it’s necessary to obtain a Taxi Badge from the local council. If your minibus has 10 ore more seats (including the driver’s seat), then you’ll need to get a PSV license from the DVSA. If you are licensed by the local council or VOSA under a PSV license, then you’ll need to purchase public hire minibus insurance or private hire minibus insurance coverage.
3). Minibus for community bus services: you’ll need a Section 22 Permit if you use the minibus for a non-profit, community bus. The permit is different from the Section 19 permit—it allows the holder to carry members of the general public. The Section 22 Permit can also be used with larger vehicles. This can also be used for a vehicle with more than 17 seats as long as the traffic commissioner is satisfied the vehicle will be roadworthy. A local bus service is defined as a public service vehicle that requires a fare from passengers and is used for those who travel for 15 miles or less in one trip.
4). Minibus insurance for a school or scout group: if you’re driving the minibus as a requirement of your job (this is included in your employment contract), when working with a school or other educational organization, then you’ll be required to have a valid D1 Entitlement listed on your driver license. For those who got their driver license before 1st January 1997, the D1 is usually automatically included. However, if you passed your driving test on or after 1st January 1997, your license will only cover driving the minibus on a voluntary basis. (That is, where driving is not included in your employment contract).
What are the Add-ons for Minibus Insurance Policies?
There are some add-ons available that will offer more coverage in addition to the coverage specified in your main insurance policies. Minibus insurance policy add-ons include:
Vehicle replacement: if your vehicle is completely damaged, then you’ll need a replacement. The vehicle replacement add-on will provide you with another minibus exactly like yours, and it will be provided within 24 hours of the accident. The replacement will be available for up to 14 days. This add-on comes into play if your minibus is vandalized, stolen or damaged by fire.
Minibus breakdown cover: this add-on is great if your vehicle breaks down on the side of road. If the vehicle is beyond repair, the vehicle and any passengers you’re carrying will be transported to a destination of your choice, withing 10 miles of the breakdown. This coverage usually also includes Home Start if your minibus doesn’t start.
Key cover: if you’re prone to losing your keys, this add-on will be a great benefit for you. The add-on covers locksmith charges and replacement keys, no matter if you lost the keys, they were stolen or damaged. In addition, all keys on the same key ring will also be covered. This add-on, however, may require you to install an immboliser, which can be expensive.
Legal protection: if you are in an incident which lands you in a legal situation, this add-on will be a great help. It covers legal advice, payment of lawyers and court fees.
Personal accident: this add-on protects you if you’re involved in a serious incident that results in serious injury or death while you’re driving the vehicle, getting in or out of the minibus, or load/unloading the vehicle. This type of add-on is usually only for those who use their minibus for commercial purposes.
Public liability: this is another valuable add-on if you drive your minibus for business. This protects you against claims by anyone in the public who suffers an injury or damage to property caused by you (or your business). This protection is for those situations that are not already covered by insurance, which happen outside the vehicle. Keep in mind that some councils do require minibus drivers to have public liability coverage, and most school contracts require drivers to have protection for £10 million, though this varies.
Excess protection: if you’d like to lower your premium, this add-on can help. It allows you to have a higher level of excess, while reducing your insurance payments. If you’re involved in an incident for which you’re at fault, and you’re required to pay the total insurance excess on the policy before making the claim, this add-on pays you back the money paid out when the claim is settled.
As you can see, minibus insurance can be a complicated matter. As a result, it’s a good idea to seek out the advice of a professional insurance agent who is familiar and experienced with minibus insurance. They’ll be able to help you find the right insurance for your situation and offer advice on how to lower your minibus insurance premiums.