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How To Get A Good Insurance Deal As A Learner

Yellow car with magnifying glass

Before you start learning to drive, you first need to make sure that you’re actually covered to practise on the roads. So, if you’re looking to practise with family or friends outside of your driving lessons, you’re going to need learner driver insurance. With learners being at the highest risk on the roads, insurers charge more for cover than they would with other drivers. Fortunately, there are ways you can still get a good insurance deal as a learner driver.

We’re going to look at the types of learner driver insurance policies on offer and give you some top tips so you can get a cheap learner driver insurance deal.


What is learner driver insurance?

In case the name didn’t clue you in, learner driver insurance policies specifically cater for learner drivers with a provisional licence. These policies can cover you to drive in your own car, or a friend or parent’s, when you’re practising outside of lessons. To be able to purchase a learner driver insurance policy, you need to hold a valid UK provisional licence and to be at least 17 years old.

While driving as a learner, you need to be accompanied by a fully qualified driver over the age of 21 who has had a full driving licence for at least three years. Please be aware that some insurers will have additional stipulations, such as specifying that any accompanying drivers be over the age of 25.

Do I need learner driver insurance?

If you’re learning with a professional, DVSA-approved driving instructor, then the cost of your driving lessons will also include the insurance cover for their car—so you needn’t worry about arranging anything here.

However, the DVSA recommends that that learners supplement their professional tuition with additional practice outside of lessons with family or friends. It’s during this independent practice that learner driver insurance comes into play. Whether you’re practising in a family member or friend’s car—or even your own—you need to be covered by the right insurance policy.

It is illegal to drive a vehicle on a road or in a public space without at least third party insurance. If you’re caught driving a vehicle you’re not insured to drive, the police could give you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points. If the case goes to court, you could also get an unlimited fine or be disqualified from driving altogether.

How long will I need it for?

Learner driver insurance policies can last as little as 2 hours and as long as a year. The duration of your own policy will depend entirely on how long it ends up taking you to learn to drive and pass your test. Short-term policies are the ideal option for learners who are taking intensive courses and know their test date is close. Long-term policies, on the other hand, are the go-to option for those spreading their lessons out over a longer period, or without a test date in sight.


Learner driver insurance policies

Cartoon woman in red car with L plates driving through a course with traffic cones

If you’re looking to squeeze in some practice around your driving lessons, then you’ll need to pick one of the following types of learner driver insurance policies…

1. Become a named driver on someone else’s policy

One of the most popular options for learner drivers, this type of cover involves you being added to your parent or relative’s current insurance policy as a named driver. Whilst this might seem like the most obvious and simple solution, it isn’t always the cheapest option for everyone involved. In fact, it’s likely that the owner of the car will see a drastic increase in their premium. Depending on the insurer, you could also risk the other person’s No Claims Bonus if you end up needing to make a claim.

Marmalade offers a unique Named Young Driver Insurance which gives learners the ability to drive their parents’ car with their own comprehensive annual policy. And the real kick? It doesn’t affect their No Claims Discount! This policy will cover learners before and after their test, and the price won’t go up once you pass.

2. Short-term insurance policy

If you know that you’re close to taking your practical test, or you’re opting for an intensive learning pace, then you won’t need anything long term. Instead, you can opt for a short-term driver insurance policy that will cover you in your own car or someone else’s, from as little as 2 hours to as long as 5 months. Unlike most named driver policies, a short-term cover won’t affect the No Claims Bonus of the owner of the car you’re practising in. Additionally, it tends to work out cheaper.

Dayinsure offers learner driver policies from 2 hours all the way up to 5 months—depending entirely on your own needs. It covers learners in their own car or someone else’s—in which case, it protects the annual policyholder’s No Claims Discount. As it’s pay-as-you-go, the policy is completely flexible—they even offer to refund your unused premium if you pass your test ahead of schedule.

3. Annual insurance policy

Annual policies are usually chosen by learners who are practising in their own car and know that they’re going to be prolonging their learning past a few months. Many insurers offer annual learner insurance policies that enable learners to convert to a Young Driver policy once they’ve passed—meaning you don’t lose money and it won’t matter if you pass sooner than you expected.

Think Insurance, for example, has a Young Learner Driver policy for those who own their own car. This policy doesn’t restrict learners from driving at certain times—unlike some insurers that have strict curfews in place—and offers discounts for low mileage. It also allows you to automatically transfer your policy to the Young Driver Black Box policy with no increases in premiums. It’s as simple as giving them a ring after you’ve passed.

Insuring your own car

If you’re looking to practise in your own car, you might want to reconsider—at least if you’re eyeing up short-term policies—as it might end up costing you more than if you were to take out a policy on someone else’s car. On the other hand, if you do opt for insuring your own car, you can start building up your No Claims Bonus right away.

If you want to get a quote for learner driver insurance, you’ll need to provide the following details:

  • Birthday
  • Postcode
  • How long you’ve held your provisional licence
  • Car registration number
  • Your preferred excess

What if I just need insurance for my practical test?

Mortarboard and scroll cartoon

If you’re taking the driving test in your instructor’s car, then you don’t have to worry at all about insurance cover—the price will be included in the cost of your lessons. Decided to take the test in your own car instead? Then you will definitely need to make sure you’re insured to drive your vehicle—otherwise, you’ll be driving the car illegally during your test.

If you don’t need cover for learning outside of driving lessons, then a short-term policy will suit you just fine for the test. Of course, if you are practising with a family member or friend, you might opt for a named driver or annual policy, which will also cover you for your practical test. Most insurers will offer cover for as little as two hours—ideal for taking the practical test. Bear in mind, however, that if your instructor wants to practise for a couple of hours before your test, you’ll need to ensure you’re covered for this additional time. Here are a few insurers offering short-term policies…

If you are taking the driving test in your own car, then you not only have to make sure you’re insured, you also need to check your vehicle meets the DVSA’s requirements. Please note: if your vehicle doesn’t meet these standards, then your test will be cancelled. You will not be able to make a claim for a cancelled test if it’s a fault on your end.

Official DVSA guidelines

Your car has to:

  • Be taxed and insured for the practical test
  • Be roadworthy with a current MOT
  • Have no warning lights showing
  • Have tyres that are undamaged and meet legal tread depth
  • Be smoke-free (that means no smoking before your test!)
  • Be able to reach at least 62mph and have a mph speedometer
  • Have 4 wheels and a mass of no more than 3,500 kg
It also needs:

  • Interior rear-view mirror for the examiner
  • L plates
  • A seatbelt for the examiner and correct head restraint
You cannot drive the following in your test:

  • BMW Mini convertible
  • Ford KA convertible
  • Toyota iQ
  • VW Beetle convertible

Looking for more information? Check the DVSA’s rules for using your own car for the practical test.

What happens when I pass my driving test?

Short-term policies cover you, as a provisional licence holder, to drive a specified vehicle for practice and/or your driving test. Once you pass the test, however, you’re no longer classed as a learner driver—you’re now fully qualified. This distinction is very important to insurers, and means that your policy will no longer cover you to drive the vehicle. In short, this means you won’t be able to drive the vehicle after your test, so you’ll need to get someone else (who is insured) to drive you home.

You can get around this problem if you’re covered by a policy that can be upgraded once you’ve passed your driving test. In these cases, it’s usually as simple as giving your insurer a quick ring to let them know you’ve passed. Once you’ve done so, they’ll be able to automatically upgrade your cover to a Young Driver insurance policy and you’ll legally be allowed to drive your car back home. Of course, this will depend on the insurer—so make sure you check before you make any plans!

Generally speaking, it’s a lot easier if you opt to take the test in your instructor’s car. For starters, it means you don’t have to worry about your car meeting the DVSA’s strict guidelines. It also means you don’t have to bother getting insurance for the practical test—it will be covered by your instructor. And once you pass your test? You’ll be able to truly revel in your newfound qualified driver status as your instructor drives you back home.


Learner driver insurance rules

Checklist

If you’re looking to practise driving outside of professional lessons, then you need to be sure that you meet all of the legal and insurance requirements involved—from ensuring you and your supervisor meet the right criteria to making sure you have the right insurance cover for the car you’re driving. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The learner driver must…

  • Be at least 17 year old
  • Have a valid provisional driving licence
  • Meet the legal minimum eyesight standards—you must be able to read (with glasses/contact lenses, if necessary) a number plate from 20 metres away

The supervisor must…

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Hold a full driving licence for the vehicle being used (manual or automatic)
  • Have held their licence for a minimum of 3 years—please note that if they’ve been disqualified in the past, this time will not contribute towards the 3 year minimum
  • Also meet the legal minimum eyesight standards
  • Not receive money for the practice (unless they’re an ADI)
  • Follow the rules of the road, including not drinking or using their mobile whilst supervising

Insurance and vehicle requirements

  • You need to be insured to drive the vehicle
  • Your supervisor must meet any age requirements set by your insurer (some will stipulate that your supervisor must be at least 25 years old)
  • You need to take note of any curfews—some insurers don’t want learners driving late at night, for example
  • The car you’re practising in needs to be registered, taxed and have an MOT
  • You must display L plates when practising

How to get a good insurance deal as a learner driver

Yellow car with magnifying glass

Unfortunately, if you’re a learner driver, you end up having to pay the highest insurance premiums out there. That’s because, as learner drivers are inexperienced, they’re more likely to make mistakes on the road—making them high-risk for insurers. Before you start panicking, however, there are a few ways you can get a good deal when buying car insurance

① Consider the duration of your policy carefully

We can’t stress enough how important it is that you think carefully about the duration of your policy. Whilst short-term policies are cheaper at face value, it ends up being more expensive to fork out for multiple short-term policies if you end up needing to extend your learning. On the other hand, long-term policies may be pointless if your test date is just a few weeks away.

You might find it useful to hold off from practising until you’ve started your lessons and have a test date set. Once you’ve got a date to work towards, you can calculate how many weeks (or months) you’ll need cover for.

② Consider the level of cover you need

If you own your own car and you’re looking for learner driver insurance, you’ll want to consider the level of cover you might need. Here are the three types of cover you might be looking at:

  • Third party: the most basic of covers out there—and the minimum legal cover needed—it will pay for damage to someone else’s property or compensation covering injuries sustained by another person due to your actions.
  • Third party, fire and theft: not only does this include the cover above, it also provides protection if your vehicle is set on fire or stolen.
  • Fully comprehensive: the highest level of cover you can opt for. It will cover the cost for damage to both your own and someone else’s vehicle as a result of accidents, fire and theft.

The type of cover you pick depends entirely on your own needs. Obviously, as a rule of thumb, the more you pay, the greater protection you get.

③ Compare plans and shop around

One of the best ways to get the cheapest and most suitable insurance deal is to shop around and compare policies. Insurers tend to calculate policies differently, so while some might look very similar, one might end up costing you less. You can make use of sites like Compare The Market, Confused.com and Go Compare. Remember to read the fine print carefully and weigh up whether the cover really offers you what you need.

④ Add another driver to your policy

If you’re taking out an insurance policy on your own car, you can reduce the costs by adding someone else to your policy—someone older and more experienced. They can’t be the main driver of the car, and they need to have a full licence and insurance of their own on another vehicle. Of course, if you do this, you run the risk of your premium increasing, especially if the other driver doesn’t have a claims-free record.

 Pick the right car and cut costs

If you weren’t aware, the make and model of your car can influence the price of your insurance policy. As such, if you have some choice in the matter, you might want to pick a vehicle that will be cheaper to insure. Admiral calculated the 10 cheapest cars to insure for those with a provisional licence and under the age of 25, as you can see in the table below…

Car Model Average Annual Premium
Citroen C1 £604.18
Peugeot 107 £605.03
Fiat 500 £614.14
Kia Picanto £627.30
Volkswagen Up! £627.51
Toyota Aygo £630.89
Ford KA £656.66
Volkswagen Fox £657.37
Hyundai i10 £668.40
Vauxhall Adam £676.20

Thinking about buying an eco-friendly car? You could get up to £3,500 in government grants to help cover the cost!

⑥ Look into paying a higher excess to reduce premiums

Excess is the amount of money that you agree to pay in the case of a claim. If you opt to pay for a high excess, the insurer will usually reduce your insurance premium. However, while you might be tempted to pick the highest excess available to get the cheapest premium, you should consider if this is really the best option for you. If you do end up needing to make a claim, you need to be sure you can actually pay this excess.

 ⑦ Avoid customising your car

Looking to pimp your ride before you’ve even passed your test? We’d advise you to think again. Customising your car—whether for performance or purely aesthetic reasons—can actually drive up the cost of your insurance. Figures from MoneySuperMarket show how much insurance can increase with certain modifications.

Car Modification How much it can increase insurance
Turbo/supercharging +132%
Transmission or gear change +63%
Complete body kit +57%
Roll bars/roll cages +41%
Wheel arches +41%
Uprated brakes +36%
Replacement of seats +27%
Exhaust changes +26%
Car phone kit +26%
Suspension +25%

Additionally, if you’re taking the test in your own car, the DVSA could cancel your test if your modifications don’t suit their guidelines. In this case, you wouldn’t be able to claim for a driving test cancellation—meaning, you’d have to fork out for another test!

There are some modifications, however, that can reduce your premiums, such as alarms, immobilisers and parking sensors. By adding these security measures, you reduce the risk of your car being stolen or damaged. The insurer, in this case, will be more likely to reward you with lower premiums. You should also look into parking your car in a garage or on a driveway, as this too can save you money.

⑧ Take an intensive course

As we’ve said, if you’re taking hourly lessons here and there, you’re going to end up needing to fork out for an annual insurance policy if you want to practise. If you opt for a more intensive pace with your lessons, however, you could save yourself a lot of money—you’ll only need cover for a few weeks (or even days).

With PassMeFast, you could ditch the L plates in no time at all. Our courses can be taken at an intensive or semi-intensive pace—it’s entirely up to you. Additionally, with our fast-track practical tests, you can jump ahead of long waiting times. Take our beginner 48 hour course—you could go from complete novice to pro in as little as 3 weeks. This means you may only need a short-term learner driver insurance policy.

If this seems like something you’d be interested in, check out our course prices page or our driving courses rundown to see what’s on offer. If you’ve had some driving experience already, but you’re not sure how many more hours you need, head on over to our course recommender. Once you’re ready, give us a ring on 0333 123 4949 or book a course online.

Already passed your test and wondering what insurance options are available to you? If you’re between the age of 17 and 25 years old, you’re officially classed as a “young driver” to insurers. To ensure you get the best and cheapest possible deal you can, read up on our young driver insurance guide.

FAQs

1. Why is learner driver insurance so expensive?

Insurance providers take note of safety and accident statistics when they calculate their policies. Young drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in a car accident. As such, insurers tend to increase premiums for learners.

2. Do I really need learner driver insurance? 

If you’re learning with a professional instructor and you’re not going to bother practising with anyone outside of your lessons, then you won’t need to bother. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to squeeze in some extra practice, you are legally required to sort out insurance.

3. Would adding another driver to my policy help me save money? 

It depends. Some insurance providers will lower the cost of your premium if you add an experienced driver to your policy. They’ll look at the other driver’s information and put together a price based on the two of you. Be aware, however, that if the other driver doesn’t have a good record, it could increase the cost of your premium.

4. Should I look into a black box policy? 

Black box (telematics) insurance works by fitting your car with a device that will record speed, distance travelled, the time of day, your braking pattern, and so on. If you’re a safe driver, opting for this type of policy can help you save on your insurance.

5. Would it be more cost-effective to opt for a higher excess?

If you’re looking for a cheap insurance deal, paying a higher excess might work in your favour. However, you’ll have to weight up the costs and benefits of it. In the event of a claim, you’ll need to pay the excess amount you choose. You might get a cheaper insurance deal with a higher excess, but you still need to make sure you can afford to pay the excess if the worst was to happen.

6. Will taking a Pass Plus course once I’ve passed help with my New Driver insurance?

As we’ve discussed in our guide to Pass Plus courses, by taking one once you’ve passed your test, you could cut the costs of your new driver insurance. This, of course, does depend on the insurer—so, make sure you shop around!

7. Can I drive my own car?

With the right insurance policy, yes, you can drive your own car. You can take out a short-term or annual learner driver policy and, in some cases, start building up your No Claims Bonus right away. You’ll find it more cost-effective if you pick an insurer that lets you upgrade your learner insurance to a young driver policy once you’ve passed your test.

8. Can I drive at any time, day or night?

This depends entirely on your insurer. For many learner driver policies, insurers have a strict curfew in pace, e.g., you’re only allowed to drive between 6am and midnight. Some, however, have no restrictions at all. Bear in mind, however, that you’ll need to be supervised when driving—as such, it’s unlikely you’ll be dragging someone out to practise before 6am!

9. Can anyone supervise me?

Generally speaking, you need to be supervised by someone who is 21 years of age or older, and who has held a full driving licence for at least 3 years. With some insurers, however, there are stricter rules, e.g., your accompanying driver must be between the age of 25-75.

10. What happens when I pass my test?

The moment you pass your driving test, any learner driver insurance cover that you have will immediately cease. Unless you’ve set up insurance to cover you once you’ve passed, you won’t be able to drive home—you’ll have to be driven back by someone else who is covered. Some insurers allow you to upgrade as soon as you pass with one phone call, so it’s worth looking into.

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.