For many years, the image of ‘White Van Man’ has haunted the highways and byways of Britain. The looming presence of a white van in your rear view mirror suggested that the driver was likely to be male, somewhat aggressive in his roadcraft skills and probably in a hurry. Now, statistics are turning this misconception on its head – now more than a third of the UK’s commercial van drivers are women, according to a survey by the AA.
Women tend to pay lower insurance premiums than their male counterparts as insurers consider them to be a lower ‘risk’. Women in their twenties pay on average nine percent lower insurance premiums than men of the same age. The same is true for van insurance, with specialist dealers offering lower commercial van insurance rates for women. Statistics have repeatedly shown that women drivers (whether in a car or a van) drive more cautiously than men and are less likely to have major incidents on the road. Claims by women are more likely to be for minor bumps and scrapes, rather than expensive write-offs. As a result, companies like Sheila’s Wheels and other specialist insurers offer lower premiums for female drivers, believing them to be better, long term customers who are less likely to make a claim.
So why the sudden rise in numbers of ‘White Van Woman’? There are several reasons for the rise in the number of female van drivers, not least the increase in women running their own businesses and using small and medium sized vans for everyday business use. Women are not buying vans for their femininity – they are buying them as sound business investments that are practical, efficient and can help them to do their job with the minimum of fuss. Women are taking the lead in small businesses such as catering, events organisation and courier services and all of these occupations require the transportation of equipment that would be difficult in a normal family hatchback.
Although looks aren’t really that important, the commercial van industry has responded to the increase in the number of women van drivers by making their vehicles what they consider to be more attractive to female drivers. Power steering, air conditioning and fancy alloy wheels are all increasingly common in new models of vans. But it could be argued that these additions appeal to both men and women, so it all boils back down to practicality again – vans are far more adaptable and practical than an average car. It’s not just business use they can be put to. Outside of working hours, a van can also be a general workhorse for the average family, carrying everything from shopping, large DIY items and furniture through to hobby equipment like surfboards and canoes. It is this ability to ‘multi-task’ that appeals to women and is why vans are becoming so much more popular with female drivers.
According to vehicle registration figures for 2000, one in 10 drivers of Britain’s privately owned vans is now female, and in the past nine years that figure is bound to have increased. Cheap van insurance has given women more choice in the type of vehicles they drive and the advent of online comparison sites make it easier than ever for women van drivers to find reasonably priced commercial van insurance.