We have specialized in arboricultural/tree surgery/forestry insurance for the last 20 years, and have come across many types of ‘special vehicles’ or modified vehicles used in connection with clients businesses.
From cars, to van, tippers, Cherryickers, tractors, forwarders, telehandlers there has never been a shortage of variety of agricultural vehicles we haven’t seen.
However, there is one in particular that always seems to stand out. The Unimog!
The Unimog is a range of multi-purpose all-wheel drive medium truck produced by Daimler and sold under the brand name Mercedes-Benz.
The first model was designed shortly after World War II to be used in agriculture as a self-propelled machine providing a power take-off (PTO) to operate saws in forests or harvesting machines on fields. Due to their off-road capabilities, Unimog’s can be found in Europe, they are commonly used as snow ploughs, municipal equipment carriers, agricultural implements, forest ranger vehicles, construction equipment or road-rail vehicles. It was designed with permanent all-wheel drive, with equal-size wheels, in order to be driven on roads at higher speeds than standard farm tractors.
It is this similarity with tractors that has led many people over the years to register them as ‘agricultural vehicles’ with the DVLA, and insure them as Tractors under the incorrect tax classification and often the wrong policy. It is only the MB Trac that can be considered a tractor in this respect.
It is essential to point this out to our clients, or anyone purchasing a Unimog that there is not a one size fits all insurance for these types of vehicles. ‘The Use’ of the vehicle is as important as the vehicle type itself in determining the right insurance, and the correct registration with the DVLA. For more information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/408247/Information_Sheet_Unimogs.pdf
Even the DVLA and www.gov.uk advice for Unimog’s states “In principle a Unimog by default would be classed as a truck, a vehicle that carries goods” and means it should be classed as a Commercial Vehicle over 7.5tonnes.
This is crucial as it also means a Cat C or Operators Licence should be in force to operate them!
Agricultural engines used for Agricultural Use
However, it is possible to classify the Unimog as an Agricultural vehicle (i.e. a tractor), if it is only used for agricultural purposes. Under this classification it has lower tax but is limited to lower speeds and cannot go on motorways. It is only acceptable if used solely as an agricultural in the woodland or 1.5km (1 mile radius) of the farmland or base of operation.
It has come to our attention that many of our customers were not aware of these restrictions, and as an independent intermediary and specialist in your industry we thought it necessary to clarify.
Agricultural engines are restricted to purpose-built vehicles that:
• are designed and used solely for agriculture, horticulture or forestry work
• are used on public roads only for going to and from a place of work.
• if used on a public road, do not carry any load except such as is necessary for its propulsion or for the operation of any machinery built-in or permanently attached to the vehicle
Agricultural processing vehicles
• are used for the movement of built-in machinery – for processing agricultural, horticultural or forestry produce – used while the vehicle is stationary
• are used on public roads only for going to and from one place of work
• if used on a public road, do not carry any load except such as is necessary for its propulsion or for the operation of the processing machinery
Vehicles used between different parts of the land
An agricultural vehicle can be used on more than one piece of land if it:
• is used only for agriculture, horticulture or forestry work (i.e. 100% not used as a commercial vehicle or outside the radius for tractors)
• is used on public roads only when passing between different areas of land occupied by the same person
• Does not travel further than 1.5 kilometers on a public road when passing between two such areas and has a nil licence in force in respect.
In Summary: Points to note
– If the Unimog in question is being used to travel further than 1.5km, then it should be classed as a commercial vehicle.
– If the vehicle is not used 100% for forestry use, then it should be insured as a Truck.
– If it is used for more than one location, travelling to multiple places of business & not just a single woodland or contract, then it should not be registered or insured as an agricultural, but instead as a HGV commercial vehicle.
Published by Matthew Fenton