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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?

What is provisional driving insurance?

Car insurance for provisional drivers is designed to cover drivers who have not yet passed their driving test, so have not got their full driving licence. 

  • this allows holders of a government-issued provisional driving licence to drive on the road legally

  • you only need provisional driving insurance if you plan to drive in any car other than with a paid professional driving instructor

  • you don’t need provisional driving insurance if the only car you drive is your driving instructor’s

  • if you’re taking private driving lessons or learning in a family member’s car, you might want to consider provisional licence car insurance to make sure you’re covered

If you're looking for provisional driver vehicle insurance it pays to compare learner driver car insurance quotes to see what deals are on offer.

How much is provisional 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 considered more risky – 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.

  • it's worth shopping around before committing to any one particular way of learning to drive

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Can learner drivers get car 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 Independent Payment (PIP), which offers support to people with long-term ill-health or disability

Can I buy a car with a provisional licence?

You can buy a car but you can only start driving as a provisional or learner driver if you're accompanied by a full driving licence holder aged over 21. This adult must also have had their full licence for at least three years.

  • 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 

  • you must have insurance in place

When do I need to buy provisional driver insurance?

If you only plan to drive accompanied by a professional driving instructor in their car, then you do not need to have learner driver insurance.

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.

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

  • your licence should arrive within one week if you apply online

  • it may take longer if DVLA need to make additional checks

How does learner driver insurance work?

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 per session. 

  • 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 any period between one and 140 days, which should generally be cheaper than an annual policy on someone else's insurance.

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 per 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.

What is the cheapest way to insure a learner driver?

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

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

  • as well as increasing their premiums the policyholder may also lose their no claims bonus if you have an accident

Warning – 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.

Can I get learner driver insurance on my own car?

You can get learner driver insurer 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.

How does learner insurance work?

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. 

  • this will cover you for up to 12 months while you prepare to take your test. 

  • if you pass within this time you will need to inform your insurer as they will amend your policy to reflect this. Your premiums is 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. 

  • you may even be able to build up your own no claims bonus while driving on a provisional licence.

How can I save 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. 

  • you will be able to start building your no-claims bonus even before you have passed your driving test

  • once you start building your no-claims bonus your premium 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 as you might if you had to make a claim as a named driver on their policy. 

  • if you take out your own insurance policy, there should be no effect on the main driver’s insurance premium.

How can I find the cheapest provisional driver’s insurance?

If you're looking for learner driver insurance for your own car and need a provisional driver insurance quote, there are a couple of issues to consider.

What kind of car you drive

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. 

Can I buy a car without a licence?

You can buy a car, but you won’t be able to drive it, without a provisional licence. You will have to insure it but you must be accompanied by a driver aged 21 or over who has held a full licence for three years or more.

Ticking 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 there’s the added risk of driving on motorways.

Always shop around

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

When you don’t own a car

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.

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 

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