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Car Insurance for Learner Drivers: The Essentials

A car inside a glass globe with a calculator next to it

If you’re about to get your provisional licence in the UK, you’re going to need car insurance for learner drivers. Getting your driving licence is one of the most thrilling rites of passage we can experience. As with anything worthwhile in life, it comes with conditions and responsibilities.


The most important thing to remember is you always need car insurance to drive on UK roads, regardless of your driving experience. We’ve gathered the most important information so you don’t have to go around in circles trying to find it. This essential starter guide will focus on all your insurance needs starting out as a new learner driver so you’re not driving blind when you get on the road. Keep reading and find out how.

Car insurance for learner drivers with a provisional licence in UK areas

In this section, we’ll explain when you’ll need to take out car insurance and the different types of policies available, plus what you need to do to get your licence.

Your path to holding a full driving licence will look similar to most, although how much time you take is up to you. Don’t forget, you’re in the driving seat and whether you take six months or six years is up to you. Here are the key steps you will need to take, in order:

  1. Apply for your provisional licence - Before you can even leave the driveway you need a provisional licence. You can apply any time after you turn 15 years and 9 months old. However, you cannot start driving until you are 17.
  2. Prepare for your theory test - You need to pass your theory test before you can take your practical driving test. See our next section on apps for driving licence test help, which can help with learning driving theory.
  3. Prepare for your driving test - You will obviously want a lot of experience behind the wheel before contemplating the final step. Driving lessons are expensive though. Did you know you can also use apps for driving licence tests that will give you a virtual on-road experience? See the next section on apps for more information.
  4. Book your driving test - Once you feel ready to go for your full driving licence you should book your practical test. Good luck! Once you have passed this, you are able to move on from provisional driving insurance and get cover like any other person with a full driving licence (we’re not saying it will be as cheap though, which we will discuss later).

Who needs car insurance for learner drivers?

A grey and yellow car

The first question you need to ask yourself is how will I be learning to drive? Everyone who drives needs car insurance, but car insurance for learner drivers is sometimes included in other policies. This is important to understand in the following instances:

  • Lessons with a professional driving instructor - Schools will usually have insurance in place and this is factored into the cost of the lessons.
  • Private lessons - If you don’t go through a school, you will probably need to take out insurance suitable for a provisional licence in the UK. Check with the instructor before you have your first lesson so you can plan in advance.
  • Practicing with a friend/relative - Likewise, if a family member or friend is going to be giving you lessons (even if they’re free) in addition to practice with a professional instructor, you’re going to need to sort out insurance.

Now that you know whether you need to take out specific insurance or not, here are the different policy options to consider:

  • Named driver cover - It is possible to add your name to someone else’s insurance policy. This is an option if you plan on practicing or learning with a friend/relative. This will work out cheaper for your portion of the insurance but will increase the premium paid by the main driver of the car.
  • Short-term cover - You can take out insurance by the hour if you choose. This is useful if you only need to pay for insurance while taking driving lessons (depending on how few or many you take). You can also take out policies lasting between three and six months, which will often work out cheaper than paying by the hour, especially if you plan on doing a lot of practice.
  • Annual policy - You can also take out a policy that lasts a full year. If you pass your test before the year is up, you are able to update the policy or cancel it. Just be aware that there will be a cancellation charge attached and find out what the rules are around updating it with the insurer to a full driving licence policy. It pays to ask a few questions at the start of this journey.

Levels of car insurance for learner drivers

If you are going to take out your own car insurance, there are three different levels of car insurance for learner drivers. The three levels are the same ones available to people with full driving licences:

  1. Third party - This is the minimum level of car insurance that any driver is required to hold. This only covers other people in an accident deemed to be your fault.
  2. Third party, fire and theft - This is the same as third party with the added benefit of covering your car if it’s stolen or damaged after a fire or attempted theft.
  3. Fully comprehensive - On top of the above benefits, this will also cover you and your car if you cause an accident.

Sample cost for learner drivers car insurance

We have provided a sample quote for you below, to demonstrate how much you could expect to pay. The quote is for a 17-year-old female living in London with her parents. The quote is specifically for a learner driver on a provisional licence, as opposed to being a named driver on another driver’s policy.

The details of the car and insurance requested are:

Insurance question Details provided
Type of insurance Fully comprehensive cover
Length of cover 1 year
Car make and model Volkswagen Polo, 2014
Car specifications Manual, 5 door, manufacturer fitted alarm
Car kept overnight Garage

Premium = £318.60 (Price correct as of December 2019)

It’s important to remember that car insurance quotes change drastically based on your circumstances e.g. where you live, make and age of car. Always shop around to get the best price for you.

Apps for driving licences: pass your test with flying colours

A steering wheel

We live in a modern world where there is an app for everything, even apps for driving licence test assistance. There are apps to help you study for your theory exam and apps to give you additional driving practice, albeit virtual.

Let’s talk about apps for theory-based study first. There are many apps available that aim to make your revision more enjoyable. Plus, it’s so convenient as your phone is usually with you wherever you go. You could cram 10 more minutes of study in while waiting for a friend or queuing in a shop. There is even an app made by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Assuming you have passed your theory exam now, you’ll be excited to get to your practical driving test. While nothing can compare and should not replace the real thing, you can use apps for extra ‘driving practice’. Many will reinforce tips and rules that your driving instructor will tell you about too. These apps, dedicated to helping you with your actual driving, can be very useful when used in conjunction with on-road practice.

Rules for learner drivers: on motorways, instructors & more

In this section, we’re going to cover some of the main rules for learner drivers on motorways and on who you can drive with.

In order to keep you (and others) safe, there are restrictions to help enforce best practices. If you don’t follow these, you will find that you are not covered by insurance, should the unthinkable happen. Here are some of the main rules for learner drivers, you need to remember whilst driving:

  • You must be accompanied by someone over the age of 21 who has held a full driving licence for a minimum of three years. This person has to sit in the front passenger seat. No one likes a backseat driver after all!
  • You have to visibly display ‘L’ plates on the front and back of your vehicle (‘D’ plates in Wales).
  • In England, Wales and Scotland you can have lessons on the motorway if you’re accompanied by an approved driving instructor and driving a car fitted with dual controls. Previously, those on a provisional licence weren’t able to drive on a motorway in any situation, but the rules changed in the middle of 2018.

Cheap car insurance: 17 year olds & new drivers

If you’re planning on driving a car, you can usually get behind the wheel from your 17th birthday. That makes cheap car insurance for 17 year olds and new drivers big business. As we mentioned earlier, you can apply for your provisional driving licence when you are 15 and 9 months, but cannot start driving until you reach 17 years of age.

No matter how old you are when you start driving, your insurance premium will be higher at the beginning. This is because the fewer years’ driving experience you have under your belt, the greater the risk that you could cause an accident. There are a number of things that can help keep your premium down. Remember, you’ll have new fuel bills to contend with, so any scrimping is worth it.

Top tips to lower your insurance premium:

  • Car type - The make and model you choose to cover plays a large part in the premium. You want to look for a smaller, less powerful car, to help reduce the costs here.
  • Black box - Look for black box (or telematics) cover for learner/new drivers. It monitors how safely you drive and this can bring down the cost of insurance at renewal.
  • Pay a higher excess - You can opt for a higher voluntary excess and this will reduce your premium. However, if you need to claim, you will pay a higher contribution towards that claim.

Summary

As you can see, there’s plenty to drive you round the bend before you even hit the road. We hope that this guide has taken some of the pressure off you so you can focus on your exams and not on deciphering insurance-speak.

To recap the key points about car insurance for learner drivers:

  • Decide whether you need your own insurance or not whilst on a provisional licence. If you are only going to have lessons with a school, you probably won’t need it.
  • If you need to take out insurance you need to decide between the three main policy types: 1) third party, 2) third party, fire and theft, 3) fully comprehensive. You might have the option of being a named driver on someone else’s insurance to keep the costs down.
  • Don’t forget to abide by all the rules for learner drivers so your insurance remains valid.
  • If you are going to take out your own car insurance, remember our top tips to drive down costs.

We wish you the very best of luck with all your theory and practical exams!

All material on this page and the selectra.co.uk website is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of financial advice. Selectra.co.uk is not responsible for any consequences that might arise from your use of the information provided.
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