I bought it from some crazy German guy who lived nearby - he had quite a few wacky cars - and we had to push it from his garden
(Vocus) October 14, 2008
In 2008 James Darling of South Woodford, in NE London, decided to go green. He saw the perfect city runabout - all-electric, no congestion charge, a great little carrier, good acceleration, quiet, non-polluting. About 20 years old - a real classic vehicle. A milk float.
"I bought it from some crazy German guy who lived nearby - he had quite a few wacky cars - and we had to push it from his garden," James recalls. "It was only £500 so I thought, it's cheap. There's no congestion charge. It's quiet. It's powerful. It can carry a lot. It's a great city runabout, and it only costs about a penny a mile to run. My family think it's great. I think it's brilliant."
But when he tried to get electric vehicle insurance, James Darling got a shock - mainly because at 20 years old he's the same age as the milk float.
"When I asked in advance about insurance amongst existing fans of milk floats, they told me their average policy was maybe £100 a year or less. After all, it only goes at around 15mph, and that's faster than the average speed of traffic in London anyway."
But to his astonishment, James initially could not find anyone willing to give him cover. The problem, apparently, was his age. He's probably the first person so young who's ever owned such a vehicle. And although he's got a clean licence and a good insurance record, every insurance company he initially asked turned him down. At any price.
"It was a farce," he says now. "I was Twittering madly about this problem (on the internet social messaging service Twitter), and someone from Flux spotted it and contacted me directly.
"As I work in computers I was really impressed with that. Anyway, they said they thought they could insure me, so they suggested I try them.
"Well, I got their quote, and it was £1300 - mainly because I seem to be the youngest milk float owner in the world. But at least they were able to cover me.
"At that price I'll have to drive it three times off a cliff to get my money back, but hey, who else can insure the uninsurable?"
Julie Carter, Commercial Manager at Adrian Flux Insurance Services, is familiar with the issues of insuring vans and other commercial vehicles, and says that here, as is usually the case, Flux insured where other brokers fear to tread.
"Age brings experience, and every year you've been a licence holder means a significant reduction in premium," she explains. "But the thing that can really push up the premium is not the speed. At 15mph that's not so much a factor. More significantly, it's the third party element - the driver's experience of how other road users can react to a slow vehicle."
With the float safely insured, James is now hunting for a 35amp charger that he can run off a domestic power supply. "I've solved the insurance issue, but I'd certainly like to hear from anyone who can help me with the charging problem," he says.
Pictures of James Darling's milk float arriving at his home can be seen on http://www.flickr.com/photos/abscond.
For more information contact the Adrian Flux quote line on (08700) 764841, email the company at quotes(at)adrianflux.co.uk, or see the Flux homepage on http://www.adrianflux.co.uk
Toni Turner Or Alison Haynes At The Publicity Works
Tel: (01263) 761000
Julie Carter At Adrian Flux Insurance Services: (08700) 764841