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How to insure a learner driver

Find out about provisional driving insurance and how to keep learner driver insurance costs down

Car insurance for provisional drivers - how much does it cost?

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If you, or a family member, is a learner driver and needs to take out car insurance, here’s what you need to know.

What is learner driver insurance?

Car insurance for provisional or learner drivers is designed to cover drivers who have a provisional licence. This means they have not yet passed their driving test, so have not got their full driving licence. 

Do I need learner driver insurance?

Insurance is a legal requirement in the UK and having provisional driving insurance means holders of a government-issued provisional driving licence can drive on the road legally.

You need provisional driving insurance if you plan to drive in any car other than with a paid professional driving instructor, such as if you are taking private driving lessons or learning to drive in a family member’s car.

Why you may not need provisional driving insurance...  You don’t need provisional or learner driver insurance if the only car you drive is your driving instructor’s

How much is provisional driving insurance?

Car insurance for provisional drivers, also known as learner driver insurance, can be far more expensive than standard car insurance. 

This is because:

  • Learner drivers are riskier – accidents are more likely when you are learning to drive

  • The excess – the amount you have to pay before any insurance claim is paid – can also be high

If you intend to drive regularly then specialist car insurance for learner drivers might be the best option, as the providers specialise in insuring drivers in the same situation as you.

Always shop around before committing to any one particular way of learning to drive.

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When do I need to buy provisional driver insurance?

If you have a provisional licence, then you can start driving, but to qualify for learner driver car insurance there are some provisos: 

  • You must be 17 if you want to drive a car, 16 for a moped or light quad bike

  • You can also drive a car when you are 16, but this only applies to people who have the enhanced rate of the mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which offers support to people with long-term ill-health or a disability

You will need learner driving car insurance when:

  • You want to learn in your parents' or a friend's car, or even your own car, you'll either need to be a named driver on their policy or the main policyholder 

  • Or you'll need to arrange temporary car insurance for learner drivers, which will cover you until you pass your test

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How long do I need learner driver insurance for?

It will depend how long it takes you to learn to drive. Learning to drive can be a long and intensive process. 

Some experts recommend you take around 45 hours of professional driving lessons before you take your test, and the cost of these can add up as lessons can be £25 or more a session. 

But there are ways to save when learning to drive:

  • You can keep costs down by practising in a friend’s or parent’s car – which is when you will need insurance

  • When taking lessons with a registered ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) you will be automatically insured as part of the cost of your lessons

  • Most car insurance policies will let you take out provisional driver insurance for between one and 140 days, which should generally be cheaper than an annual policy on someone else's insurance

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How can I save money on provisional driver’s insurance?

The best way to achieve long-term savings on your car insurance is to take out your own policy while you are still driving on a provisional licence. 

This means you will be able to start building your no-claims bonus before you have even passed your driving test, so your premiums should drop steadily each year as long as you don’t make any claims.

Taking out an insurance policy in your own name means you will also avoid the risk of damaging your friend’s or relative’s no-claims bonus if you had to make a claim as a named driver on their policy.

The cheapest way to insure a learner driver

Some car insurance providers are more willing than others to take on provisional drivers.

That means if you have family or friends willing to help you, first check how much insurance might charge to add you as a named driver

But remember, as well as increasing their premiums the policyholder may also lose their no-claims bonus if you have an accident while driving.

A warning about provisional car insurance and fronting Some parents take out a car insurance policy and declare themselves as the main driver, adding a young driver as a named driver. This is despite the fact that the child will be driving the car more than the parent, this is known as 'fronting' and is illegal.

Other ways to save on provisional driving insurance

Choose a cheaper car 

The type of car you drive will often have an impact on the amount you pay for insurance – but with provisional driver’s insurance most policies will cover you for any car up to a certain value or insurance group (usually a value of £20,000 or around insurance group 30). 

This is great if you want to learn in your parents’ car and then you can choose a cheaper car to insure once you’ve passed your test. 

Tick the right box

When you are looking for cheap learner driver insurance, make sure you have ticked the box for provisional rather than full licence if you’re buying or comparing policies online. 

Be prepared to pay more after your learner driver insurance ends

Once you’ve passed your test you may be considered as more of a risk as you are no longer required to be accompanied at all times by an experienced driver and can drive on motorways.

Always shop around

By shopping around it's possible to get learner driver cover for the equivalent of a couple of pounds a day. The best learner driver insurance is one that offers good value and sufficient cover for your needs, without too large an excess.

Consider temporary car insurance when you pass your test

When you get your full driving licence you may not immediately want, or be able to afford, to buy a car. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t drive at all. You can choose to take out a temporary car insurance policy using someone else’s car, as long as you have their permission. 

If you are only planning on borrowing a car you can also compare quotes for short-term or temporary car insurance.

Consider multi-car insurance

When you do come to buy your first car it may be worth taking out a group car insurance policy if people in your family drive and own cars. 

This is called multi-car insurance and might also be suitable:

  • If you own more than one car

  • If you’re a family with more than one driver

  • If you’re a couple with more than one vehicle 

Can I get learner driver insurance if I own my own car?

You can get learner driver insurance for a car you own, although you will need to drive the car with someone who has passed their test, is over 21 and has been driving for more than three years. You will need to check with your insurer first.

If you're lucky enough to have your own car and want to get insured as a learner driver, you can simply take out an insurance policy as normal, making sure to inform your provider that you are yet to gain your full licence. 

Just remember:

  • If you pass your test before your learner driver insurance cover ends you will need to inform your provider so they can amend your policy to reflect this. Your premiums are likely to rise once you pass your test

  • Learner driver cover is normally fully comprehensive, which will cover accidents as well as theft, fire and malicious damage

Driving with a provisional licence in your own car

When learning to drive in your own car, remember:

  • You must have 'L' plates on the front and back of the vehicle to show that you're a learner driver

  • Learner drivers are not allowed to drive on the motorway 

How much is a provisional licence?

A provisional licence in the UK is £34 if you apply online, or £43 by post. You can apply online or buy post from the Gov.uk website 

You will need: 

  • An identity document unless you have a valid UK biometric passport

  • Addresses where you’ve lived over the past three years

  • Your National Insurance number if you know it

You’ll get a confirmation email from DVLA after you’ve applied and your licence should arrive within one week if you apply online. However, it may take longer if DVLA need to make additional checks.

What are the cheapest ways of learning to drive?

Learning to drive can be costly, so here are some ways to cut the cost of learning to drive a car.

Paying a professional driving instructor 

Pro: if you have regular lessons you can cut out the need for learner driver insurance, as the lesson fees cover the cost of them being insured on your behalf. 

Con: the cost of getting professional lessons can add up quickly, with many instructors charging between £25 and £35 an hour.

Learning with friends and family

Pro: if you have family or friends willing to accompany you in their car on a regular basis, you could save on driving lessons. 

Con: you will need to be added as a named driver on their insurance policy, and you may take longer to pass your test.

You may need to plan a few months in advance where you know you'll be available to take all of your lessons. Otherwise, there is the risk that if you don't keep up your driving lessons regularly, you'll fall behind in some of the things you've learnt.

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