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Catering Van Insurance

In the UK, food has gone mobile. No longer just the preserve of ice cream vans and coffee stations in work car parks, van catering has gone upscale and grown-up. Now food trucks sling intricate tacos to festival-goers and workers on lunch breaks. They’ve even become a destination for foodies, the place to sample the culinary sensations, from vegan fare to bacon-themed everything.

If you’re considering getting into the mobile food business yourself, you’ll want to ensure your van - your kitchen and your storefront - is properly protected. Here’s all the insurance a mobile food business needs, from van insurance that covers all your equipment to product liability.

In this guide:

Insuring your catering van

A catering van isn’t any ordinary van. It’s kitted out with expensive, and heavy, catering equipment and refrigeration - which are as important to your business as the vehicle itself. So a standard van insurance policy won’t cut the mustard.

You’ll need an insurance policy that covers not only the vehicle itself but also its permanent fittings—all the deep fryers, grills, and refrigerators you’ve installed in the back. After all, an insurance payout for a stolen catering van is useless if it only covers the vehicle itself and not the kitchen that really makes it run.

Furthermore, the risks that catering vans are exposed to are different. You might not log many miles on your catering van or, if you’re behind the wheel of a Mr Whippy, ever drive it very fast. So your van is less at risk of being involved in a collision, or at least a serious one. But electrical appliances aboard and cooking hot food increase the risk of fire. You’ll need an insurance policy that caters to these hazards.

Luckily, insurers offer tailored mobile catering van insurance, which covers your van and its equipment both in transit and when it’s used to cook and serve food.

What other insurance does your mobile food business need?

If you’re operating a mobile catering business, you’ll also need business insurance, in addition to and separate from insurance for the vehicle itself.

Business insurance policies have three essential types of cover you can’t live, and cook, without:

  • public liability insurance: This covers your catering business against legal costs and claims for compensation made by third parties for damage and injuries caused by your business activities. Public liability insurance is different from the third party liability cover offered by the van’s auto insurance, which covers damage caused by the van itself to other people’s vehicles, property or injuries to them. In contrast, the public liability provision of a business insurance policy covers your business for claims of compensation because, for instance, someone scalded themselves with a coffee you sold or tripped over the cord you’re using to plug in your catering van.
  • product liability: One component of a public liability policy which will be essential for catering vans is product liability, which covers compensation claims for injury or property damage caused by a product you sold. This cover would protect your business against claims if a customer became ill after consuming food cooked in your van.
  • employer’s liability: It’s unlikely you’re manning your catering van on your own. If you’re employing anyone else, you’ll need to take out employer’s liability cover - it’s a legal requirement. Employer’s liability insurance protects you against claims for compensation from employees or former employees who are injured or become ill through working for you. It can cover their medical expenses, loss of income, and other damages as well as your legal expenses in handling any claims.

Insurance extras for your mobile catering van

You can also explore additional coverage, generally added to your business insurance policy, to further protect your catering business:

  • frozen food cover: If the refrigeration of your ice cream van falters, you could lose thousands of pounds worth of Cornettos and Twisters - and disappoint entire neighbourhoods of children. Frozen food cover can compensate you for the loss and allow you to replenish your freezers quickly to get back on the road.
  • replacement vehicle: Building a brand and earning customer loyalty is essential in the food truck business. And if your vehicle is out of commission, you’re losing money, customers and may even be risking your coveted parking spot. This cover gives you a comparable replacement vehicle, outfitted with catering equipment so that you can keep the show, and the tacos, on the road.
  • business interruption: This insurance, also called business income insurance, compensates you for the loss of sales and profits if your business is taken off the road by an unexpected, insurable event (such as a fire in your catering van, a collision involving the van, or the breakdown of crucial equipment). These policies can provide you with enough income to tide you over until you can make the necessary repairs - which should be covered by your van insurance or business insurance policies - and relaunch.