Automatic car insurance

Already automatic? Or considering making the shift from manual? Find out what might best suit you and how to get cheaper insurance.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 26 June 2023  | 5 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

Information on this page was reviewed by our fact-checkers before it was published. Learn more about our fact checking process and our editorial guidelines.

Are automatic cars more expensive to insure?

Automatic cars tend to cost more to insure than manual vehicles.

That’s because automatic cars are usually of a higher specification and more expensive to buy. Plus, an automatic gearbox costs more to repair than a manual gearbox if something goes wrong.

Our data shows that the average cost of a comprehensive car insurance policy bought through Go.Compare was £430 for a manual car and £586 for an automatic.[1]

As technology to produce automatic cars becomes cheaper, though, the gap between insurance costs may start to close.

Also, when the government bans the sales of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030, electric cars - which are mostly automatic - will become more mainstream. And this could bring down the cost of automatic car insurance too.

*Avg. cost of all manual and automatic car insurance policies bought through Go.Compare between January 2023 and March 2023

Key facts

  • Currently, automatic cars tend to be more expensive to insure than manual models
  • As automatic, particularly electric, cars become more mainstream, insurance costs should come down
  • If you pass your test in an automatic car, you can’t drive a manual vehicle

Automatic vs manual - which is better for me?

In a manual vehicle, you change gears yourself - by pressing down on the clutch pedal and shifting the gear stick.

But in an automatic the car changes gears for you, depending on how fast or slow you’re travelling.

A manual car has three pedals - the clutch, brake and accelerator. While an automatic has just two - the brake and accelerator.

So, which might be the better option for you - a manual or automatic car?

It all comes down to personal preference, of course, plus how much money you have to spend and how attached you are to using a gear stick!

Many people opt for automatic cars because they can be less complicated and taxing to drive.

With no need to change gears yourself, you can concentrate fully on things like your speed, as well as navigating roundabouts and junctions without the distraction of having to change up and down through the gears.

If you regularly drive in congested, rush-hour urban traffic, constantly changing gear and pumping the clutch pedal can be tiring. So an automatic car could be appealing.

They can also be a good option for people with a disability or limited mobility.

Other drivers prefer a manual car as they feel it gives them a more enjoyable ride, better ‘control’ and a physical connection to the car as they change gear.

Plus, if you’ve driven a manual car for years, swapping to an automatic can take a lot of adjustment and you may just not fancy making that change.

Is it better to learn to drive in an automatic?

An automatic car certainly can be easier to learn in than a manual. In an automatic, you don’t have to master the art of clutch control or learn when to change gear.

So, if you’ve struggled with gears in previous lessons and have given up, or if the thought of stalling in traffic puts you off learning to drive, then an automatic could be the way to go.

However, remember that if you pass your test in an automatic car, you’ll only be qualified to drive an automatic car, not a manual. If you decide later on that you want to drive a manual car, you’d need to take a new test.

Is car insurance more expensive if you have an automatic only licence?

It can be. Insurers tend to regard people who only have an automatic licence as less skilled drivers and therefore more of a risk. So they’ll charge them more for cover.

What else affects the cost of automatic car insurance?

As well as the fact that automatic cars tend to be more expensive to buy and repair, other factors that affect the cost include:

  1. Where you live

    Insurers charge more if you live in an area with a high crime rate or where there are a lot of car insurance claims.

  2. Your age

    Younger, less experienced drivers tend to get charged more than older drivers.

  3. Your driving history

    With a clean driving licence, you’ll likely get charged less than someone with penalty points or a previous ban.

  4. Security

    If your car has an alarm or immobiliser, it could bring down the cost of your premium. And if you keep your car in a garage or on your drive it can lower your insurance costs too.

  5. Mileage

    The more you do, the more you’ll likely be charged for insurance.

How can I reduce the cost of insuring my automatic car?

There are a few things that can help lower your automatic car insurance premiums. Things like:

  • Choosing to pay a higher voluntary excess, only if affordable. That’s the amount you agree to pay towards a claim in addition to the compulsory excess set by your insurer.
  • Paying annually, rather than monthly. Then you won’t be charged any interest on your premium.
  • Adding an experienced named driver to your policy. Be honest about who the main driver is though. Failure to do so could invalidate your policy or lead to a criminal conviction if you're involved in an accident.
  • Comparing cover across a range of insurers.

Frequently Asked Questions

They’re certainly less complicated to drive, because they do a lot of the hard work for you.

You don’t need to master the art of the biting point and clutch control, for starters.

In congested traffic, they’re much easier as you don’t have to continually work the clutch and change gear as you would in a manual. You also don’t need to worry about things like stalling when you pull away.

In essence, you really only need to think about putting the car into Drive (D) when you want to move forward, Reverse (R) to go backward, Neutral (N) if you’re stopping at lights or in traffic for a short time and Park (P) when you’ve stopped and are ready to get out of the car.

The government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 in favour of electric cars, the vast majority of which are automatic. So if that happens, we’ll inevitably see the amount of petrol and diesel cars gradually dwindle over time.

Yes, if you’re licensed to drive a manual car, you’re allowed to drive an automatic car too.

No, if you passed your test in an automatic car, you can’t drive a manual car on the roads.

If you decide you want to drive a manual, you’ll have to take a new test in a manual car. You won’t have to resit your theory test though.

They’re usually more expensive than the same car with manual transmission. An automatic gearbox is complex and expensive to produce. Plus, it’s more costly to repair because of its complexity.

Older automatic car models didn’t used to be as fuel-efficient as their manual counterparts. However, as technology has improved, modern automatic gearboxes are much more economical to run.

So you could save money with an automatic car in the long term.

The vast majority of electric cars are automatic. Because they’re powered by an electric motor and battery, rather than a combustion engine, they don’t need a clutch, gearbox or require gear changes.

Just a few manufacturers have produced manual electric cars as they realise some drivers don’t want to make the switch from manual to automatic driving. However, they tend to be very expensive to produce.

Compare car insurance quotes

Buy car insurance with us and we’ll refund your excess if you make a claim. Excludes breakdown and windscreen repair or replacement. Full T&Cs apply^.

Get a quote

^Up to £250 refunded after claim settled. Excludes breakdown and windscreen repair or replacement. Full T&Cs apply.

See if you can save on your car insurance

Get quotes

[1]*Avg. cost of all manual and automatic car insurance policies bought through Go.Compare between January 2023 and March 2023.