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Learner driver insurance explained

Find out what insurance you need when learning how to drive, whether you’re driving your own or someone else’s car.

In this article
Do learner drivers need car insurance? Learner driver insurance if you've got your own car Learner driver insurance if you're driving someone else's car
How can learner drivers get cheap car insurance? Temporary learner driver car insurance

Your first driving lesson can be an exciting moment, whatever age you take to the roads, but it’s vital you that you start as you mean to go on.

The law requires everyone behind the wheel to be properly insured – and that includes drivers who are learning. Before you drive on the public highway, you must be sure you have valid insurance cover in place.

Do learner drivers need car insurance?

All drivers taking to the public roads must be properly insured. Otherwise, they are breaking the law; they also risk being out of pocket in the event of an accident.

If you’re learning to drive through a professional driving school or with a private instructor – and using their vehicle – you won’t normally be responsible for arranging insurance cover. They will normally buy a professional policy that covers all their students, though do check to make sure before your first lesson.

However, if you’re learning to drive in a private car – your own vehicle, say, or one owned by family or friends - you will need insurance. And even if you’re just doing some occasional practice sessions on top of your lessons, you must be insured to get behind the wheel.

Learner drivers looking for car insurance have two options:

A dedicated learner driver policy Becoming a named driver on someone else's policy
Covers you to drive in a specific vehicle, whether your own or someone else's* Covers you to drive the main policyholder's vehicle only
Likely to be a more expensive than being a named driver Will increase the policyholder's premiums
Start building your own no-claims discount Could impact the policyholder's no-claims discount if you have an accident
You'll need to arrange this yourself Usually easy for the policyholder to set up

*Even with your own policy you'll need to be accompanied by an 'eligible supervisor'. How insurers define this varies - it can be more than the legal minimum of a 21-year old with a valid driving license held for over three years - so check with them first.

Learner driver insurance if you've got your own car

If you have your own car, you’ll definitely need a dedicated learner driver insurance policy. It’s a separate policy of your own, and you can buy different types of cover as you see fit.

  • Third-party policies cover you only for an injury and damage you cause to someone else and their car, or you can add fire and theft cover, which will also pay out in the event your vehicle is stolen or catches fire.
  • Comprehensive cover is the most extensive type of insurance; it will cover your costs too in the event of an accident.

Make sure you understand the terms of your policy. As well as detailed rules on who is allowed to supervise you, there may be additional constraints – some policies limit your driving to daylight hours, for example.

It’s important to note that your learner driver insurance will stop providing cover as soon as you pass your test, when you will need a policy for qualified drivers. You’ll need this before you drive home from the test centre.

Not all car insurers are the same - our research consistently shows both the quality of their policies and their customer service vary hugely. Go to our best and worst car insurers page, or our individual car insurer reviews, to find out more.

Learner driver insurance if you're driving someone else's car

If you’re driving someone else’s car, you still have the option of taking out your own insurance policy.

This may be a good option, since there will be no need to worry about the premiums of your friend or family member increasing, or affecting their future premiums if you have an accident. And with your own policy, you can start building up your own no-claims bonus.

Still, the alternative, becoming a named driver on the owner’s policy, has advantages too. You’ll get the full amount of cover they have paid for, and you’ll be able to drive their car every time you need a lesson.

On cost, the named driver approach may work out cheaper, though this will vary according to individual circumstances.

 

How can learner drivers get cheap car insurance?

The good news is that taking out car insurance while you still only have a provisional driving license may cost less than you expect.

Insurers know you’re inexperienced, but they also take into account the fact that you’ll always be accompanied by a fully-qualified driver.

1. Shop around

Once you've got your provisional license and know what vehicle you're going to drive, run quotes on one or more comparison sites.

Running searchers for quotes where you pay monthly may result in insurers viewing your credit file, but it won't affect your credit rating.

Find our tips for using comparison sites in our guide to cheap car insurance.

Steer clear of unusually cheap offers through social media, which could be a 'ghost broker' scam.

2. Consider insurers with restrictions

You could be offered a lower premium if you agree to certain conditions, such as only driving within certain hours or limiting your mileage.

Once you qualify, you may be able to get cheaper car insurance through insurers that use telematics to track your driving. Find out more in our guide to 'black box' car insurance.

3. Increase your excess

Increasing your voluntary excess - how much of a claim you'll pay yourself - but make sure you could afford the excess if you had to claim.

4. Add an experienced named driver

If you have your own car, adding an experienced named driver could bring your premiums down - though they will actually need to drive the car occasionally.

5. Don't assume comprehensive cover is more expensive

It's worth running quotes for both third party and comprehensive cover, but you may find comprehensive cover to be cheaper. This is because insurers associate third party customers with higher levels or risks and sometimes charge them more.

Price comparison service MoneySuperMarket says the average comprehensive learner driver policy cost £310 in 2021, against £317 for the average third-party policy.

Beware 'fronting'

Don't become a named driver on someone's policy if you are likely to drive the car more than they do, or you own the car yourself.

This is known as 'fronting' and is considered fraud. You or they could have your insurance claim denied, policy cancelled and even face prosecution, leading to a criminal record. 

This can also make it difficult for both of you to get insured in the future.

Temporary learner driver car insurance

Car insurance is typically sold on an annual basis, but you can also buy cover for shorter periods – typically, anything from a day to a few months.

When you’re learning to drive, this could be a good option. You could buy insurance as and when you need it for practice sessions, or just for as long as you expect it to take to pass your test.

This approach can save you money, but temporary cover is more expensive than an annual policy, so the more of it you buy, the less chance there will be of netting a saving.

If you’re doing a lot of practice, or planning on taking your time before applying for your test, an annual policy might be more economic.

If you do go for an annual policy, remember that your learner driver insurance is no longer valid once you’ve passed your test. You’ll need to speak to your insurer about standard cover.

This is one potential disadvantage of an annual learner policy – your insurer may not be the most competitive provider when you need a standard policy, but it may demand cancellation fees before you move on.

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