Learn more about provisional drivers car insurance and read our tips for keeping learner driver insurance costs down.
Car insurance for provisional drivers, also known as learner driver insurance, can be far more expensive than any standard car insurance policy. The excess – the amount you have to pay before any insurance claim is paid – can also be high.
If you're looking for provisional driver insurance, take a look at our guide. We explain the rules and guidelines around obtaining and having a provisional licence, and how to find the best value learner car insurance.
We also look at the best provisional licence insurance for young people, and how to find cheaper insurance for learner drivers.
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What sort of insurance do I need if I am a provisional driver?
If you have a provisional licence, then you can start driving, but there are obviously a few big restrictions in place.
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 for 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.
If you have a provisional licence, then you can start driving, but first you need to have provision or learner driver insurance, unless you're only going to practice in the car of your driving instructor.
Who needs to be in the car with a learner driver?
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. Provision or learner drivers must be insured.
What is provisional driver car insurance?
Car insurance for provisional drivers is specifically designed for people who have not yet qualified for their full driving licence. This allows holders of a government-issued provisional driving licence to drive on the road legally.
It's important to note that you only need provisional driving insurance if you plan to drive in any car other than with a paid professional driving instructor.
If you're looking for provision driver vehicle insurance it pays to compare learner driver insurance quotes to see what deals are on offer.
When do I need to buy provisional driver insurance?
You may be wondering whether you have to have learner car insurance as soon as you start driving. If you only plan to drive accompanied by a professional driving instructor, then you do not need to have learner driver insurance.
However, if 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 you'll need to arrange temporary car insurance for learner drivers, which will cover you until you pass your test.
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. Many learner drivers choose to keep costs down and improve their driving skills by practicing in a friend’s or parent’s car.
Like all drivers, learners are legally required to be insured while driving on a provisional licence. When taking lessons with a registered ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) you will be automatically insured as part of the cost of your lessons. However, you will need to take care of your own insurance if you decide to top up your experience by driving outside of your paid-for lessons.
Can I still drive with the COVID-19 restrictions?
As lockdown is eased, you're allowed to drive further to exercise, so long as you are accompanied only by other members of your household. So as a learner driver, in theory you could drive to exercise while under the instruction of an adult member of your household. As long as they have held a full driving licence for at least three years.
You can't currently book a driving test, unless you're classed as a critical worker, for example you work in a hospital or as a carer.
Driving tests are currently suspended for up to three months (from 20 March 2020) due to coronavirus. You can apply for an emergency test if you’re a critical worker. As of May 2020, you're still unable to take a private driving lesson. You can't take a theory or practical test unless you qualify as a key worker.
Critical or key workers include, people who work in health and social care, education and childcare, government, food, public safety, transport or utilities.
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 for regular lessons cuts out the need for learner driver insurance, as the lesson fees cover the cost of them being insured on your behalf. However, the cost of getting professional lessons can add up quickly, with many instructors charging between £25 and £35 per hour.
- If you have family or friends willing to accompany you in their car on a regular basis, then it could be worth asking to be added as a named driver on their insurance policy.
- Many policies will let you take out provisional driver insurance for any period between 1 and 140 days, which should generally be cheaper than an annual policy on someone else's insurance. That way you can also take it out for the length of time you need.
For paid lessons to work, it's best 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.
Where do I find learner driver insurance?
Provisional driver insurance providers are more likely to take on learner drivers, whereas standard car insurance providers might be more reluctant to insure someone who has not yet qualified for their full driving licence.
If you have family or friends willing to help you, first check how much insurance might charge to add you. Their insurance provider is likely to increase their premiums as well as possibly charge them an administration fee for adding you to their policy. The policyholder may also lose their no claims bonus if you have an accident, making this a fairly risky and costly option.
Some parents takes 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.
Insurers are more likely to increase premiums for an inexperienced driver, especially one who has not received their full driving licence.
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.
What does provisional insurance cover?
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.
Most learner driver insurance policies are equivalent to a fully comprehensive insurance policy, which will cover driving 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. By doing so 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.
By taking out an insurance policy in your own name, 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 online?
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.
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, for example, and then you can choose a cheaper car to insure once you’ve passed your test. Read our guide on the cheapest cars to insure.
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. Then when you pass your test you can inform your insurer and they will amend your policy as necessary to reflect your new licence.
It’s important to bear in mind that the cost can go up or down at this point – 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.
By shopping around it's possible to get learner driver cover for the equivalent of a couple of pounds per day. The best chance of finding a good deal is by comparing quotes and checking that the cover is suitable for you. The best learner driver insurance is one that offers good value and sufficient cover for your needs, without too large an excess.
How do I apply for a provisional licence?
If you don't have a provisional driving licence yet you will need to apply for one from the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You can apply for a provisional licence three months before your 16th birthday, but you won't be able to get behind the wheel until you are 17.
If you have applied for or already have the mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), designed to help with some of the costs of long-term ill-health or disability, then you can start driving at the age of 16.
You can apply online, which costs £34, or by post, which costs £43. You will then receive a photo ID card (usually within a week of applying), which will also allow you to take the driving theory test and the practical test, once you're ready for them. Once you do get behind the wheel you will need to be accompanied by someone over 21 who has had their full licence for at least 3 years.
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