A handy guide to learner driver car insurance
It’s an exciting time if you’ve just got your provisional licence and are about to take to the road. But it can be a confusing and expensive time, too. Fear not – we’re here to help.
Whether you’re learning to drive in your parents’ car or getting your friend to teach you, you’re going to need the right car insurance. To help you find a good deal, we’ve put together this easy-to-follow guide answering your most pressing questions.
Plus, check out our Young Drivers tool, which will give you an idea of all the other costs involved in running your own car, information on the cheapest cars to insure and our guide for new drivers that’s full of practical help for newbies.
Find out all you need to know about young driver’s car insurance, including car insurance for 21-year-olds.
Do learner drivers need insurance?
If you’re having lessons with a professional driving school, then most of them include insurance in the price of the lessons. But if you want to practice in your own car, or in a friend’s or relative’s car, then you’ll need insurance.
Types of car insurance policy for learner drivers
Getting cover for a learner driver isn’t too dissimilar from insuring a qualified driver, with several options to choose from:
- Third-party only – this is the minimum cover required by law. It covers you for damage or injury you cause to other people
- Third-party, fire and theft – as well as the benefits from third-party only, this type of policy also includes cover for your car being stolen, or damaged by fire
- Comprehensive – includes the benefits of all of the above, but also provides cover for injuries or damage sustained to you and your car
As a learner driver, you should also consider the length of policy you need:
- Annual cover – this is the most common form of car insurance, providing you cover for the whole year, and is automatically renewed at the end of the term
- Short-term or temporary cover – this covers you for a specified period. This could be from as little as an afternoon, up to 30 days. This may be ideal if you’re only looking to take private lessons with a friend or family member as you approach your test date, but it’s more expensive as a daily rate compare to annual cover
If you’re going to be taking regular lessons with one friend or family member in particular, you should consider being added as a named driver on their policy. This will afford you the same level of cover as they do, and allows you to drive their vehicle whenever you need a lesson. However, this will usually increase your friend or family member’s premiums, so they should be aware of this before agreeing to adding you to their policy.
What does learner driver insurance typically cover?
A dedicated learner driver insurance policy will cover you for your practice lessons in your own time as long as you’re with a qualified and eligible supervisor. This can be a friend or family member, but they must be at least 21-years-old and have held a full driving licence of their own for at least three years. However, some insurance providers may have their own limits, such as a minimum supervisor age of 25, so you should check for any limits to your cover. Other limits could include the time of day you’re allowed to drive.
It’s important to know that, while learner driver insurance can cover you for your driving test, if you then pass the test, you’ll no longer be covered to drive the car home as a qualified driver.
A learner driver insurance policy acts as a separate policy to your supervisor’s insurance. This means that you don’t need to worry about their policy and potential no claims bonus being affected, if you get into an accident while driving their car.
What’s the most suitable type of car insurance for learner drivers?
Comprehensive car insurance may be the ideal type of insurance for you as a learner driver, as it provides the most cover. However, finding the most suitable policy as a learner driver will depend on your personal circumstances and how much you can afford. There are three main types of cover available:
- third party only – this covers you for any injury you cause to other people and any damage to their property
- third party fire and theft – similar to a third-party policy, except that it also includes cover for the theft of your vehicle or damage by fire
- comprehensive – includes all the cover of a third-party fire and theft policy, but also protects you as a driver and can pay out for damage you cause to your own car. You might think this would be the most expensive type of policy but that’s not always the case, so it’s worth comparing your options to get the right cover for you
How can I reduce the cost of learner driver insurance?
While cheap insurance for learner drivers can seem hard to find, there are some things you can do to make it cheaper:
Share your car with an experienced driver – you could reduce the cost of your premium by adding them to your insurance policy. The insurance provider takes both drivers’ information into consideration and creates a price based on each of you sharing the car.
Offer to pay a higher voluntary excess - although this could cost you more in the event of a claim, as you’ll need to pay the voluntary excess you choose, as well as the compulsory excess set by the provider, it could mean a cheaper monthly premium in the short term. Just make sure you could afford the total in the event of needing to make a claim.
Black box insurance for learner drivers
Yes – black box, or telematics, policies come with a little device or an app that monitors your driving habits. These are particularly good for learner drivers without a long record of driving safely, because insurance providers perceive learner drivers to pose a greater risk. A black box monitors your speed, steering and braking, as well as where, and how far, you drive. If you can prove that you’re a safe driver, you could save on your insurance.
How has the driving test changed?
While you’ve probably been asking friends and family about their driving test experiences, you should know that things have likely changed since they took their test. In 2017, several changes were introduced, including:
- The independent driving section was extended to 20 minutes, up from 10
- A section following directions from a sat nav was introduced
- The reverse around a corner maneuver was removed
- The turn in the road maneuver was removed
Learner driver road safety & statistics
Learning to drive is an experience shared by most. As many as 33 million adult citizens in England (roughly 75% of driving age) currently hold a license, with 17 million British men and 16 million women allowed to legally get behind the wheel.
And that’s perhaps no surprise, given how common it is to catch a glimpse of the familiar giant red “L” whilst we’re out driving. But how do learners taking to the roads every day translate statistically?
Let’s take a closer look at what life currently looks like for a learner. From insurance rates to the best (and worst) places to take your test.
Best and worst place to pass the driving test
Stats published by the government have shown that the UK average for first-time passers sits at a relatively respectable 46.4%. Despite that, there are some test centres which have shockingly high (and low) success rates.
Some of the best areas for first time pass rates included:
- Isle of Mull – 90.9%
- Inverary – 89.4%
- Pitlochry – 84.8%
- Ballater – 78.3%
- Mallaig – 78.3%
At the other end of the spectrum, the following centres had the worst first-time rates in Britain:
- Carlisle LGV – 25.7%
- Birmingham (The Pavilion) – 26.2%
- Rochdale (Manchester) – 28.2%
- Enfield (Bancroft Way) – 28.6%
- Erith (London) – 30.1%
It’s worth noting though, only 11 people took their test during this period on the Isle of Mull, while 2,416 took the test at the Rochdale test centre in Manchester.
But just why are some of these young and inexperienced drivers failing? According to the DVSA in 2019/20, the top ten reasons for failing your driving test were:
- Junctions (observation)
- Mirrors – (change direction)
- Control (steering)
- Move off (safely)
- Junctions (turning right)
- Move off (control)
- Response to signals (traffic lights)
- Positioning (normal driving)
- Reverse park (control)
- Response to signals (traffic signs)
At the other end of the spectrum in the same year 6,121 people passed first-time with 0 faults.
Learner driver demographics
We naturally associate learner drivers with teenagers – and there’s definitely logic to that. But it’s not just the young who learn to drive.
Government statistics showed that as many as 3,782 people aged 61 or over, took a driving test in the UK between 2019-2020. Of those, just 1,330 would pass their test, with 739 men and 591 women.
By contrast, the most successful demographic for passing on the first attempt was those aged 17, with as many as 55.8% of teens in this bracket earning their licence on the first try.
Surprisingly, there’s a noticeable decline in first time pass rates for those aged 18-23, with results showing an average drop-off to 46.3% - a decrease of 9.5%.
For all these ages the overall, first-time pass rates are:
- 17-year-olds – 55.8%
- 18-year-olds – 47.6%
- 19-year-olds – 45.3%
- 20-year-olds – 44.8%
- 21-year-olds – 45.7%
- 22-year-olds – 46.3%
- 23-year-olds – 46.3%
From this age on there’s a gradual decline until around only a third of learners are passing first time aged around 51. Numbers tend to fluctuate more at this point because there are significantly fewer people taking the test.
When it came to comparing men and women, numbers were of equal interest. There was a slight divide in the successful pass rates between genders in both the practical and theory tests.
This reversal in fortunes was reflected to some extent in the number of attempts which both genders took to fully attain their licence. The numbers showed:
|Gender||Attempt 1||Attempt 2||Attempt 3||Attempt 4||Attempt 5||Attempt 6+|
Points on a learner driver’s licence
It might not be something you associate with learners – or even think possible for them to have – but points are just as much a factor for someone learning to drive as they are for experienced heads.
In fact, if you get enough points while being taught, it’s actually possible to have your licence taken away from you the second you pass.
Points on your provisional are carried over to your full licence if they haven’t expired. If you do get a total of 6 or more points within two years of passing your test your licence will be revoked so you can no longer drive. So, if you rack up lots of points on your provisional licence, your full licence can instantly be revoked when you pass. You’ll also have to get a provisional licence and take both theory and practical parts of the driving test again to regain a full licence.
Bizarrely, for some drivers who’ve clocked up points on their provisional licence, it might make more sense to wait for anywhere up to four years to take their test. This is the average amount of time it takes for certain points to be taken off a licence.
When it came to points being accrued, the following offences were the primary cause for alarm at the latest count in the UK:
- 142 – Dangerous and drunk driving offences
- 2,295 – Speeding fines
- 382 – Accounts of insurance error
- 58 – Vehicle test condition offences
- 302 – Other motoring offences
Why are learner drivers more at risk?
Learner drivers might have the guidance of a professional or experienced driver alongside them at all times, but that doesn’t make them immune from accidents and other mishaps on the road which might accrue points.
There are a number of reasons why learner drivers might still find themselves in trouble:
- Overconfidence. While very few people start out super confident, it only takes a few good lessons to gain an increased amount of confidence. Some drivers fall into the trap of thinking they’re ready to tackle the road at the same level of competence as experienced motorists. As many as 98% of young drivers think of themselves as safe. Unfortunately, this is almost always not the case.
- Poor assessment of hazards. Most learners won’t be familiar with all the different kinds of hazards and risks you’d normally find on the road. This comes down to a lack of on-road experience, rather than anything else. Experienced heads will spot a red flag before an incident occurs. A learner may not.
- Unfamiliar conditions. Whether it’s because of rain, a lack of light or even having more passengers in the car than normal, conditions play a huge factor in driving. While an experienced motorist will be able to quickly adapt, it can be jarring for newcomers to the road. The net result of this could be a greater risk of danger.
Learner driver COVID-19 safety
Learning to drive is tough at the best of times. But with the stress of COVID-19 looming over your head, you’ll be facing new challenges which those that came before you never had to worry about.
If you feel like now is the right time to begin learning, then don’t put it off. Learning to drive is a really important step in life, both in terms of practicality and experience. Just know that you’re going to have to approach things a bit differently to how things were in the pre-pandemic age.
Who you can learn with
The restrictions imposed by the UK government meant that for most of 2021, learners were unable to be taught by professional instructors. This was the fifth time since the start of the pandemic that lessons were suspended, with tests booked for the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 rescheduled by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
As part of easing of restrictions, the rules have again changed. Learners across Great Britain will be able to begin practising with private instructors, as well as take both theory and practical tests. Changes came into effect across the nation on the following dates:
|England||12th April||12th April||22nd April|
|Wales||12th April||12th April||22nd April|
|Scotland||26th April||26th April||6th May|
You can continue to practise with family and friends in your household too. In order to adhere to current regulations you need to follow these rules:
- You can only practise with a member of your household or support bubble
- The person instructing you must be aged over 21
- The instructor must be qualified to drive the kind of vehicle you want to learn in
- The instructor must have been a fully qualified driver themselves for 3 years
The new regulations have meant that things are closer to normal than they have been for a long time. With both practical and theory tests now available again, now is as good a time as any to think about getting your license.
Taking your theory test during the pandemic
As you probably already know, you need to pass your theory test in order to be able to get a full license. Theory test centres are open again, but there are slightly different rules and regulations as a result of the pandemic.
Booking your test
Booking your test is just as easy as it ever was. You need to apply through the DVSA website, and organise a date with them to take your assessment. During this process you will be asked if you cannot wear a face mask while in the assessment centre. This is a requirement, so you need to tell the DVSA if you are unable to. Reasons for being exempt from wearing of a mask include:
- Any physical or mental condition which means you cannot wear one
- If putting the mask on causes you severe distress
Remember, you can always change the date of your test if you need to. If any of the following apply, you should not go to your test (and reschedule for another time):
- If you or any person you live with has any COVID-19 symptoms
- If the NHS test-and-trace app has told you need to isolate
- If you’ve just re-entered the UK from another country and are quarantining
Make sure to get directly in touch with your centre and let them know if any of this applies.
When you arrive at the test centre
When you arrive at the test centre, make sure you are wearing your face covering (unless you have been permitted not to) and try to come alone to help with social distancing. Be aware you will be asked to briefly remove your face mask in order for the person at the centre to check your ID.
Because of the need for cleaner conditions during the pandemic, centres throughout the country have introduced a number of new measures in order to combat the spread of the virus.
Safety precautions which are being taken across most test centres in the UK include:
- Extra cleaning schedules
- Transparent protective screens on reception desks
- Hand sanitiser to be used upon arrival
- Workstations being cleaned before every test
- Staff wearing face masks and coverings
In England and Wales, there will be a one-desk gap between people taking the test. In Scotland, where you need to be two metres apart at all times, you might find a two-desk spacing policy in effect.
Taking your practical test during the pandemic
The same rules apply for booking your practical test. You must book through the DVSA, and let them know if you’re unable to wear a mask for any reason. This does not include wearing glasses. If you struggle to wear a mask with glasses, make sure to practice doing so during your lessons.
If you’re in England or Wales you can take a rapid lateral flow test before your driving exam, assuming you don’t have any symptoms. If the test comes back positive, make sure to rearrange your practical assessment. Also be sure to change the date if:
- You have symptoms of COVID-19 on the day of your test
- You’ve been told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace
- You’ve returned to the UK and need to quarantine
When you arrive for your test
It’s vital you wear a face covering when you come for your test (unless you got permission not to). Your test could be cancelled if you refuse to wear a face mask.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s advised you don’t turn up any sooner than five minutes before the start of your test. Some test waiting rooms are closed, while others are open with restrictions.
If you’re using a car provided by your instructor or the test centre, hygiene standards will be maintained by them. If you’re using your own car, make sure to follow these rules:
- Tidy the inside of the car, cleaning away any excess rubbish from the dashboard, footwell or cup holders
- Clean the dashboard and other surfaces using cleansing wipes
- Keep at least one window open on each side of the car to allow for air flow
Further safety precautions have been introduced by the DVSA in order to fight the spread. These include:
- The examiner wearing a face mask throughout the test (and possibly gloves)
- Banning your instructor from sitting in the back of your car during the test
The test itself will be the same as normal, although if you are struggling with your face mask to the point where it becomes a safety issue, you may be asked to pull over and end your test.
Once your test is finished, you will get out of the car and move to an area where social distancing can be safely achieved. Your instructor will be called over and the test itself will be discussed.
COVID-19 health and safety advice
While things are slowly getting back to normal, we all still need to be safety conscious, even as the vaccine is becoming more frequently available. Some of the most important things to keep in mind include:
- Cleaning car surfaces. Some strands of coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to five days. It’s really important to make sure you’re sanitising your car every time you get in and out of it. It might feel excessive, but it’s always better to be on the more cautious side.
- Wearing face coverings. Face coverings help to stop the spread of the virus, and can be worn whenever you’re in close contact with someone from outside your bubble if you’re feeling worried.
- Contacting your instructor. If it’s possible, try to get in touch with your instructor before every lesson. This check in can be used to find out if your teacher, or anyone in their family has developed symptoms. If so, you can choose to cancel your lesson.
- Using hand sanitiser. Use alcohol-based sanitiser to kill any excess germs on your hands. Try to remember to do this both before and after every lesson. Your instructor should carry their own sanitiser in case you forget yours.
- Social distancing. While it’s impossible to socially distance from your instructor during a lesson, you should avoid making physical contact of any kind, and also refrain from sharing any pens, electronics or other accessories.
Make sure to keep all of these in mind both when learning and taking our practical test. While the situation is continuing to improve, these health and safety rules need to be followed in order to see that progression continue.