Let's learn about learner driver insurance - don't forget your L plates!
- Learner drivers can have their own car insurance policy, or be added as a named driver to another policy. You don't need your own insurance if you're learning in an instructor's car
- If buying your own policy, take care with restrictions, notably around vehicle value and the age of qualified drivers who can accompany you
- If you're a learner searching for a policy through GoCompare, make sure you tick the 'UK provisional' option when you choose your licence type
Learner drivers: we hate to break it to you, but you may have to pay one of the highest car insurance premiums on the market. Because, thanks to inexperience, you're considered a high risk by insurers.
The statistics show that you're more likely than other groups to make a claim. Ready?
- In 2016, 19.3% of all road fatalities involved a driver aged 17-24 – despite young drivers making up just 7% of all full licence holders.
- The Department of Transport says: "Young car drivers have a higher casualty rate given distance travelled compared to all car drivers. In 2016, the rate for young car drivers was more than three times higher in England than all car drivers."
But it's understandable – you're bound to make mistakes, great and small, as you learn to drive.
Whatever the standard of your driving, as a new motorist you won't have had the chance to prove your ability yet by driving claim-free and building up a no claims bonus (NCB).
Did you know...?
From April 2017 to March 2018, the number of 16-year-olds who passed their practical driving test was 36. And 1,418 people aged 61+ did too.
In the future, an accumulation of NCB will help keep your premiums lower, provided you drive carefully. Nobody wants accidents and mistakes to become a regular occurrence.
But, for now, shopping around for car insurance is vital to keep your costs as low as possible.
Comparing policies will make sure you end up with a policy you can afford. It'll also help you get the right cover in place to protect you legally and financially.
Does a learner driver need insurance?
Matt Oliver, car insurance expert at GoCompare, says: "It depends. If you're taking lessons with a professional driving instructor, then the driving school with have cover. If you're practising in another car with a friend or family member then yes, you will need to sort car insurance out. And if you've bought your own car ahead of your test then 100% yes. As well as learner driver insurance, remember to pop your L plates on – or D plates in Wales – or risk a six-point penalty on your licence."
Car insurance provided by professional driving instructors
If you're learning to drive only in the car of a professional driving instructor, then you don't need to worry about learner driver insurance.
They'll have cover in place for their students, which is partly what you're paying for.
However, you're likely to want to practice driving without your instructor, perhaps in a friend or parent's car.
Learner drivers in other people's cars
If you're using their car, a relative or friend will typically call their insurer and add you to the policy as a named driver.
Did you know...?
- If paying for a professional driving instructor, fees include insurance cover for the lessons
- Learner driver insurance can last from a few days to a year – you'll need to decide the duration needed
- Learner cover lets you drive any car worth less than £20,000 without risk to the owner's insurance
- To teach a learner, a qualified driver must be over 21 and must have been driving for at least three years
However, not all insurers will accept younger learner motorists onto existing policies.
Others will charge a horrendous amount because they don't particularly want inexperienced learner drivers on their books.
They may have offered a parent a competitively priced policy because of their age and experience.
So you may want learner driver insurance because your guardian isn't willing to add you to their own policy.
Or perhaps you've already bought your own car and want to practice in that.
Maybe you've coaxed several friends into taking you out for a drive, and need insurance that covers you in all their vehicles.
In such cases, you'll need a specific learner driver car insurance policy.
What does learner driver insurance cover?
Learner driver insurance lets you practice in any car, so long as you have permission and are properly supervised.
By law, you have to be supervised by a qualified driver who's over 21 and has had their licence for at least three years.
Some insurers set even tougher rules than that, such as specifying that your supervising driver has to be at least 25.
Breaking the rules could invalidate your insurance, so make sure you read all your policy's small print.
Learner driver policies will also usually include limitations on the value of the cars you can drive, such as a cap of £20,000.
If you were planning to practice in a Bentley, it's probably not going to happen.
How long will you need learner driver car insurance?
Some insurers offer very short-term cover for learner drivers.
Rupert Jones, deputy editor of the Guardian's money section, says: "Learner driver insurance can often be bought by the day, the week or the month, and – in some cases – even by the hour."
Unless you can genuinely pass your test with just a few weeks of practice, it's likely to be cheaper to buy a longer-term policy rather than topping it up week-by-week.
The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) states there's no minimum amount of hours or lessons you must practice driving.
But according to the RAC: "The average learner needs 20 hours of practice to pass the driving test, in addition to 45 hours of driving lessons."
Finding cheaper learner driver insurance
If you're learning to drive then there's one important lesson to take to heart.What matters is not finding the cheapest car insurance so that you're legal to drive – it's about finding the best price for the cover you need.
So don't be tempted into third-party only cover if what you really need is a fully comprehensive policy.
The easiest way to find the right learner driver insurance at the best price is to compare policies.
At GoCompare, you can look at multiple insurance policies in one search. We also highlight the level of cover you get for each premium, so that you can find the right policy at hopefully the lowest price.
Remember to tick the 'UK provisional' option when you choose your licence type when applying for quotes.
Beyond that, all our regular tips to cut the cost of car insurance apply. Particularly relevant for learners and new drivers could be:
- considering telematics or black box policies
- a pay-as-you-go car insurance policy if you're only travelling very short distances
- choosing a small, sensible vehicle
- thinking about the benefits you may gain from an additional driving qualification such as Pass Plus
Car insurance for recently qualified drivers
It's an exciting day when you pass your test and receive a full licence.
Well, exciting right up to the point where you start looking at the cost of insurance as a new driver.
Frustratingly, insurers consider new drivers to be at an increased risk of making a claim, particularly if they're teenagers.
In fact, some insurers won't offer cover to drivers under a certain age, such as 21, or even 25.
That's why it's so important for new drivers to compare car insurance premiums and find the best price for the cover they need.
You can read more in our article on car insurance for young drivers.