Car insurance for learner’s permit drivers

You can get cheap car insurance even with a new driver on your policy.

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Young girl driving a car with adult

It’s a rite of passage: Your child has passed their exam for a learner’s permit and is now ready to get behind the wheel. But how do you learner-proof your car before they start driving? After you’ve made sure they understand the rules of the road, learn how to get them covered under your car insurance policy.

Do learner’s permit drivers need special coverage?

No, new drivers aren’t required to get a different kind of coverage. You can typically add a learning driver to your current policy so that they’re covered under the same terms. Here are some things to consider when you have to get coverage for a new driver:

  • Add a new driver to your policy. It’s usually pretty cheap to add a student driver to your existing car insurance. If you can find a provider willing to sign up a student for a standalone policy, it will likely be significantly more expensive.
  • Understand exclusions. Carefully read your policy’s terms and conditions to learn how your provider handles learner’s permits. Most policies specify whether family members in the same household can share a car with full or partial coverage under the same policy, along with any exclusions.
  • Ask for student discounts. Learning drivers can be expensive to insure. Ask your current car insurance provider to find ways to cut the costs for covering a student driver, with discounts with proof-of-enrollment, good grades and more.

What kind of car insurance do new drivers need?

Car insurance covers drivers with learner’s permits just like anyone else, so you don’t need special coverage. Instead, you’ll want to decide the type of coverage you want:

  • Medical liability coverage. Protects your teen driver from damage that results from an accident they’ve caused.
  • Collision coverage. Pays for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle if your new driver is in an accident.
  • Property damage liability. Covers damages to someone else’s property in an at-fault accident, including repairs to vehicle, buildings or fences.
  • Comprehensive coverage. Ensures that you’re covered for the expense of replacing or repairing your vehicle, regardless of fault, and damages that aren’t within your control like vandalism, theft, and damages to your windshield.
  • Accident benefits/bodily insurance. Covers your healthcare after an accident including ambulances, nursing care and lost income.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Covers the cost of repairs if an uninsured or underinsured driver damages your vehicle.
  • Roadside assistance. Covers towing and roadside help after a car breakdown. Consider adding this coverage until your new driver learns how to change a flat tire or if they drive an older car.
  • Perils coverage. Covers perils, either specifically named or universal, that can occur to your vehicle such as weather damage.

How much is car insurance for a teen driver?

Insurance rates vary quite extensively across Canada. It makes sense that insurance companies would charge more depending on the location considering that more accidents – and resulting insurance payouts – occur in more densely populated areas. The most expensive rates in the country can be found in British Columbia, while the least expensive rates are in Quebec.

To give you an idea of how much you may have to spend on car insurance for a young driver, below we’ve outlined the average rates for a young male driver living in Ontario:

AgeAverage annual rate
18$11,124
19$8,892
20$7,458
21$4,932
22$4,764

How to save on car insurance with a learner driver

Car insurance for young drivers is expensive. That’s because new drivers are more likely to get in accidents until they gain more experience behind the wheel.

The best way to keep your car insurance rates low is to start by comparing quotes from a range of insurers. You can also find cheap car insurance rates, by practicing safe driving and protecting your vehicle. Here are some tips

  • Maintain a clean record. Stay within the speed limit and avoid traffic violations to keep your insurance claims to a minimum and potentially reduce your rates in the future.
  • Don’t get separate coverage. Even if you could find an insurance company to insure a young driver with a learner’s permit, it’s often cheaper to add them to your current policy.
  • Garage your car. Vehicles kept overnight in a secure, locked garage are often cheaper to insure than cars parked on the street.
  • Choose a higher deductible. A higher deductible often results in a lower rate, though make sure your savings can support paying more upfront after an incident.
  • Drive less. If you’re not a frequent driver or your new driver will only be driving occasionally, look into insurers that specialize in low-mileage or pay-as-you-drive policies.

Car insurance discounts for learner drivers

You’ll find a handful of discounts to lower your rates that your learner driver may qualify for. Check to see if your insurer offers any of the following discounts:

  • Good student. Get a discount if your driver is a student and maintains good grades.
  • Online policies. Some providers offer discounts for purchasing coverage fully online.
  • Safety devices. Equip your car with safety features like seatbelt pretensioners and additional airbags to save on your rates.
  • Antitheft devices. If your vehicle is equipped with alarms or other theft deterrents, you might be eligible for a discount.
  • Low-mileage drivers. People who drive less frequently could see lower rates. Or consider usage-based car insurance, where cost is based on how much you drive.
  • Defensive driving. You could get a discount for completing a driver training or defensive driving course.
  • Multicar. Most insurers offer savings for bundling multiple vehicles under the same insurance policy.
  • Telematics device. Increasingly, providers are adopting telematics devices that track your driving habits for lower rates.

What you should know before your driving tests

Learner’s permit

To get your learner’s permit, you’ll complete a written road rules knowledge test. Requirements, rules and fees vary by province and territory, so check with your local transportation ministry to learn more out the information on your test. You may even be able to complete a practice test online.

Provisional license

Once you’ve got your learner’s permit and have practiced driving for the waiting period required by your province or territory, you’ll qualify for an intermediate or provisional license. Your license grants you privileges that vary by state while applying restrictions that can include limiting the hours you can be on the road. You’ll need to pass a driver’s test before you can get on the road without a supervising driver.

Full license

After you meet another set of requirements, you’ll qualify for an unrestricted driver’s license. Depending on your age and province/territory, you may be required to pass another driving test, but check with your transportation ministry to be sure. You’ll often find your car insurance rates will drop a little as you get older, since you’ll have several years of driving under your belt. Car insurers will lower your rates the longer you’ve been on the road.

Preparing your car for a teen driver

If you’re learning to drive or planning on teaching someone how to, learn all that you can about your local road laws and prepare your car before getting behind the wheel.

  • Embrace the rules of the road. Know your provincial or territorial driving laws and speed limits, and run through basic driving scenarios before you pull out of the driveway.
  • Minimize distractions. There’s a whole lot to get used to when driving a car for the first time. Get comfortable by adjusting seating and mirror positions before driving. Turn the radio off and put mobile phones away so the driver can focus.
  • Get familiar with car controls. Any new driver will need to understand the car’s controls before hitting the open road. Demonstrate the turn signals, windshield wipers and headlights, and explain what to look for in the fuel, engine temperature and oil pressure gauges.
  • Check equipment. Make sure your vehicle is prepared for your neighborhood’s road conditions and that all equipment operates properly. This includes headlights, taillights, windshield wipers, brakes and tires.

With your learner’s permit, you’ll likely be required to log a specific number of driving hours before graduating to an intermediate or full license. Those supervising learning drivers must also:

  • Own a valid Canadian driver’s license
  • Have had a full licence for a minimum number of years or be at least a certain age, like 25
  • Stay in the passenger seat at all times
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol while supervising

Don’t want the pressure of teaching? Consider a driving school.

Driving schools are designed to help new drivers learn the ropes from an accredited instructor. By completing training, your teen driver can acquire the skills and confidence needed to become a safe and competent driver. A big plus to going to driving school is that young drivers might be accelerated to the next licencing level. You’ll most likely get a discount on your car insurance too.

Find a legitimate driving school by asking about:

  • Accreditation. Accredited driving instructors must have passed certain tests and would likely be registered with a college who administers driving instructor certifications.
  • Cost. A comprehensive driving school may allow you to bundle multiple lessons beyond simple road knowledge.
  • Insurance. Ask whether the school has appropriate insurance in place to provide coverage if your driver is involved in an accident while in the instructor’s car.

When can a learning driver upgrade to a full license?

StateLearner’s permitRestricted licenseFull license
British Columbia1612 months later24 months later, or 18 months with a ICBC-approved driver training course
Alberta1416, and at least 12 months later2 years later
Manitoba16, or 15.5 if enrolled in a MPI’s Driver Z Program9 months later15 months later
Saskatchewan166 months later12 months later
Ontario1612 months, or 8 months with a government-approved driver education course12 months later
Quebec1612 months later2 years later
Newfoundland and Labrador1612 months later12 months later
Nova Scotia1612 months later24 months later
New Brunswick1612 months, or 8 months with a recognized licensed driving schoolApproximately 24 months later
Prince Edward Island1612 months later12 months later
Yukon1516, after 6 months and 50 hours of driving experienceAfter completion of the road test
Northwest Territories1516, and at least 12 months later12 months later
Nunavut1516 with 4 weeks of driving experienceAfter completion of the road test

Bottom line

New drivers have a lot to worry about, from passing the driver’s test and following the rules of the road to getting insured to drive the family car. Adding your teen driver to your car insurance isn’t cheap, but it is the best way to get them the coverage they need to stay safe on the road. Compare car insurance rates to make sure you’re getting the best deal for you and your new driver.

Frequently asked questions about first time drivers

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