Is a Pick-Up Truck Right for Your Business?

Is a Pick-Up Truck Right for Your Business?

From transporting equipment to towing, the pick-up truck is becoming a more common sight on todays’ roads, especially for those driving in rougher terrains. Is a pick-up right for your business? And what special type of van insurance do you need to make sure your goods are protected when using your truck for business?

Whether it was The Fall Guy’s Lee Majors riding his rugged GMC in the 80s or Daisy Duke coasting in the back of her Uncle Jesse’s Ford in The Dukes of Hazzard, the pick-up truck has made its way not only onto our screens but across the Atlantic as UK drivers have embraced this versatile all-rounder. The SUV market may dominate the larger domestic car market, buts let’s not forget that in the US alone 2.5 million Americans bought a pick-up truck last year – a sizeable chunk of the SUV market.

In the UK, pick-up trucks have become the preserve of countryside farmers for transporting feed and livestock around various locations along with those who require a big, tough, dependable workhorse.  From small traders such as mechanics and decorators to those owners now pivoting their work as couriers during the COVID pandemic, could do worse than choose a pick-up over a standard SUV or commercial van.

And there are many advantages of running a pick-up over a conventional SUV, specifically financial ones (see below). If you need to run a large vehicle as your fleet choice you might very well decide that a ‘double-cab’ is in the best interest of your business.

What Exactly Constitutes a Pick-up?

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) classifies pick-ups as vans – as long as they have a payload of 1 tonne (1,000kg) or more. A payload means the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight. If you choose a pickup with a removable hardtop cover, make sure the weight of the top doesn’t take your chosen truck’s cargo capacity beneath the magic 1,000kgs, or the vehicle will be taxed as a regular car.

Most pickups are considered light commercial vehicles (LCVs) so they are taxed differently to conventional company cars. The benefit-in-kind (BIK) is set at a flat rate, irrespective of CO2 emissions or price. Two seat pick-ups, and other trucks and vans are classified as LCVs automatically, as they’re not thought to offer the same ‘non-business’ benefits to their drivers.

The broad definition is also that  commercial vehicles may be fleet vehicles, company cars, or other vehicles used for business. Driving or supplying a pick-up truck (if it’s one that’s classified as an LCV) brings tax benefits to both employees and employers. Plus, the new double cab models have the same levels of comfort and lifestyle accessories usually found in SUVs, meaning that driving for pleasure (at weekends and holidays with family) is no longer the hard bumpy, uncomfortable experience it once was in older workaday models.

And all Light Commercial Vehicles – including double-cab pickups – qualify for VAT reclaims, as long as the business that buys the vehicles is VAT registered. The amount of VAT that’s reclaimable depends on how much of the vehicle’s mileage is driven for business. If it’s 80 per cent business mileage, then 80 per cent of the VAT can be reclaimed from the taxman. Companies can often write off the full purchase cost against tax. So, it’s a win-win scenario all round.

Insuring Your Pick-up

Remember though, what you use your pickup for still has insurance implications be it a standalone vehicle or a used as part of a van fleet.  If you drive for a living and regularly deliver goods to customers or employ drivers who do, it’s essential you’re covered by fleet van insurance or courier insurance so that can keep your business moving. As a courier, it’s not just the vehicles you drive that have value. You may also transport important and valuable cargo, so it makes sense to get cover in place that protects you against the specific risks you face.

Similarly, if you’re using your pick-up as a towing vehicle you may need to apply for provisional licence for a medium-sized lorry and trailer (category C1+E). You also have to pass the lorry theory test, plus the C1+E driving test and take extra Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) tests if driving the medium-sized van or truck is the main part of your job. Once you’ve done this you can drive vans and trailers with a combined weight of up to 12,000kg MAM.

Goods in Transit insurance covers items from theft, loss or damage while they are being transported by your pick-up from one place to another in the course of business. Remember that some van or courier insurance policies can include an element of goods in transit cover, but only up to a certain value. However, you’ll need a goods in transit policy to cover the items that you are delivering in your pick-up. While there is no law to enforce that you have goods in transit insurance cover, it is essential as items can be stolen, broken or lost while on the move.

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