The V5 document
In the United Kingdom, vehicles are issued with a V5 C document. This is what used to be called a log book. It is a document that notes who is the registered keeper of the vehicle. It includes other information, such as the number of owners. A full description of the vehicle that is being registered also noted. The information in the V5C affects a fleet insurance policy.
This document is not proof of ownership.
The registered keeper does not necessarily own, or have a financial interest in the vehicle. It should be the person who uses and keeps the vehicle day to day. This person is the one who receives official communication from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). It can be an individual or any form of business entity.
The registered owner is the person who has a financial interest in the vehicle. Usually, this is the person who purchased, or financed, the vehicle.
The owner can, if they wish, sell the car. The keeper does not necessarily have the right to do this. Again, this can be an individual or a business.
In most cases, the registered keeper and owner are the same. But, with many more lease and finance deals, this balance is changing
What about company ownership
The same situation occurs, for businesses too. A business can be the registered keeper and/or the registered owner.
What are the responsibilities?
A registered keeper usually has more responsibility, as they are in control of the vehicle most of the time. They’ll be answerable for parking tickets and speeding fines.
How does this affect fleet insurance?
Most business insurance companies insist on the policyholder being the registered keeper. When they ask for information to be declared, this is for the registered keeper.
As with all types of business insurance, you’ll go through a quote process, for your fleet. One of the questions you’ll be asked is, are you the registered owner and keeper of the vehicle.
It is more likely that a business will have some form of lease or hire deal for their vehicles. This will mean that the business is not the registered owner of the vehicle. The registered owner of the vehicle will be the finance company or similar.
There is a famous quote from billionaire oil tycoon J Paul Getty “If it appreciates in value, buy it. If it depreciates in value, lease it.” There are very few business vehicles that gain value. It makes sense therefore to lease.
What should I tell my fleet insurer?
As far as ownership is concerned, you’ll need to declare you’re not the registered owner. Insurers need to know this information for two reasons. Firstly, it is one of their rating factors. In our experience it, does not tend to have a great effect on the premium. If there were fleets with multiple different keepers and owners, it could affect the administration costs. Providing different proofs of insurance for each vehicle could be more costly.
Secondly, insurers need to know who the beneficiary of any claims settlement is.
The principle of indemnity
A business insurance policy will usually indemnify the person, or entity, that has a financial interest in the property. This indemnity will be up to the value of the property that has been damaged. If a business leases a vehicle, they should not be the beneficiary of any claim settlement
How an independent business insurance broker can help
Not every fleet insurance policy is simple. Many businesses have merged and different vehicles are owned, or kept, by different parties. To ensure you arrange the correct cover, we suggest that you obtain a quote through a broker. They’ll help you though the process and declare the correct information to insurers. Usually they’ll approach the whole market on your behalf, to find the most competitive quote for the widest cover.
The Police have provided more information on registered owners and keepers.