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The rise of the “mobile office” leaves businesses vulnerable

18th February 2013 Print

Research among commercial van drivers in the UK has found that modern technology has led to a doubling in the number of small businesses using their vans as a "mobile office" in the last five years.

But AXA Business Insurance warns that many could be leaving themselves and their businesses at risk by failing to take sensible precautions around the equipment that keeps them mobile.
The survey, commissioned by AXA Business Insurance, found that two thirds of van drivers now coordinate their businesses from their vans, a rise from 34% five years ago.  This is reflected by the fact that on average, van drivers spend only half (56%) of the time in their vans actually driving while one in seven spend less than 20% of ‘van-time' actually on the road.
Over two thirds believe that the technology they now carry with them in their vans has had a positive effect on running a mobile office and nearly a third believe it improves the image of the business.  However, many admit that losing this equipment would mean their business would suffer.
Today, 71% of those using a van will carry a smartphone with them and 60% a satnav.  Nearly half (45%) have a laptop or tablet and seven percent even carry a printer in their van.   All of this can add up to well over £1,000 worth of equipment which, if left in a van, could be potentially uninsured. Under a regular van insurance policy, cover will generally be provided for just a few hundred pounds worth of these items. But this cover is also dependent on owners showing due care and attention - which could rule out claims from the half who don't use a functioning alarm or even hide valuables away when they leave their van.
Darrell Sansom, Managing Director at AXA Business Insurance explains: "We appreciate that items such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets are vital to many businesses these days and we, like other insurers, will provide some cover for items stolen from a van.
"However, if you are carrying a lot of equipment, not only should you ensure you do not make it easy pickings for thieves by leaving it in your van, you should contact your business insurer to arrange suitable cover for it."
In the last five years, 15% of van drivers have reported having a technological item stolen from their vehicle with smart phones the number one target followed by laptops and tablets.
Darrell Sansom concludes: "It is a sad fact of life that these items are very attractive to thieves and van owners need to ensure that they take the relevant precautions to keep them safe.  If not, they could not only see business efficiency taking a hit, but could also end up footing a bill for hundreds of pounds to replace them."