Car insurance for learner drivers

Our guide to car insurance for learner drivers examines the pros and cons of a dedicated policy and how to keep the cost of insurance down while you're learning to drive.

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Like any driver, learner drivers need to be insured in order to drive legally. If you’re having lessons with a professional driving instructor, insurance to drive their car is likely to be included in the cost of the lessons. But practice makes perfect. If you want to hone your skills in your own car, or one belonging to a friend or family member, then you may need to take out learner driver car insurance.

What is learner driver car insurance?

Dedicated car insurance policies for learner drivers are designed to cover you to practise in a friend or family member’s car – or in some cases your own car – while you’re learning to drive. You might also see it referred to as “provisional licence car insurance”.

Most learner driver car insurance policies require you to be aged between 17 and 35. You must hold a valid, clean UK provisional driving licence.

Learner drivers can also ask to be added as a named driver on someone else’s policy, or take out a regular, annual car insurance policy. In both cases, you’ll need to inform the insurer when you pass your test and the premiums may change.

What does learner driver car insurance cover?

For the cover to be valid, you’ll need to be accompanied by an eligible friend or family member. To be eligible to accompany you, they must typically:

  • Have held a full driving licence for at least 3 years.
  • Be at least 21 years old. Some insurance policies may have higher minimum age limits, so check the cover details.

Read your policy carefully for any other conditions – for example, some policies may limit you to only driving at certain times of day.

Bear in mind that a dedicated learner driver car insurance policy will only cover you until you pass your test. At this point, you’ll need to take out regular car insurance. So if you pass your test in your own car, for example, learner driver car insurance usually won’t cover you to drive it home. Insurance for young, inexperienced drivers can be pricey, so once you’ve passed your test, check our guide to the best car insurance for young drivers.

How long will learner driver car insurance cover me for?

Dedicated learner driver car insurance is only designed to last until you pass your test. There are policies available that cover you from as little as a few hours up to a few months.

Most new drivers don’t know before they get behind the wheel how long it will take before they feel ready to take their test and, of course, there’s a chance you may not pass first time. Some policies let you start with a shorter term and top up as you need to.

What are the alternatives to learner driver car insurance?

There are 2 main alternatives to taking out a dedicated learner driver insurance policy:

  1. Full, annual car insurance cover. If you own the car you’ll be learning in, you may prefer to take out regular, annual car insurance from the get-go. This has the advantage of allowing you to just update your policy when you pass, so may be less faff. However, you may find that fewer insurers are willing to cover you as a learner driver. You’ll also need to bear in mind that, once you’ve passed your test, you’ll need to inform your insurer as your risk profile will have changed. You may find your premiums go up (as you will be driving unsupervised for the first time). You may also need to pay a fee to make changes to your policy.
  2. Getting insured on someone else’s car as a named driver. If you’ll be learning to drive in a friend or family member’s car, you can ask them to officially add you to their car insurance policy. It’s likely to increase their premiums, but it may work out cheaper than buying your own policy.

Levels of car insurance policy for learner drivers

The majority of learner driver policies offer comprehensive cover when driving someone else’s car. This offers the fullest level of cover and makes sure you are covered for damage to the car you’re driving if you cause an accident, as well as damage to other people’s cars and property.

There are 2 other types of cover, but these won’t offer the same protection as comprehensive cover and may not even be any cheaper.

  • Third party car insurance: The minimum legal requirement for drivers. It covers you for damage to other people’s cars and property, but won’t cover you for damage to your own car.
  • Third party, fire and theft insurance: In addition to the above, this also covers your car if it’s stolen or damaged by fire.

Is learner driver car insurance expensive?

You may be surprised to hear that premiums for learner drivers are often lower than for younger people with a full licence. This is because while you’re learning, you’ll always be accompanied by a more experienced driver which reduces the risk of accidents. So when you pass your test, there’s a good chance you’ll see your premiums go up as you’ll be driving without supervision for the first time.

That said, learner driver car insurance still won’t be as cheap as insurance for an experienced driver with a clean driving record. Also, pro-rata, temporary insurance policies generally work out more expensive for like-for-like cover than buying an annual policy. So if you opt for a dedicated, short-term learner driver insurance policy, you may find you pay more on a day-by-day basis than if you took out an annual policy from day one. An advantage of short-term policies, though, is their flexibility. For example, you can take one out for just a few days as you approach your test date if you want to get extra practice in beyond your professional lessons.

A bonus to note is that if you invest in learner driver insurance, you could end up earning a discounted rate on a standard annual policy when you pass, providing you stay with the same provider. Bear in mind that this may not necessarily be the cheapest option, though, and you should always shop around for the best policy once you’ve passed your test.

How can I reduce the cost of learner driver car insurance?

The best way to maximise learner driver car insurance affordability is to do your research. Compare what’s out there and choose the best possible quote. Here are some other helpful hints to guide you in the right direction to cut back costs on learner cover:

  • Compare and contrast quotes. If your parents, friend or partner already have an active insurance policy on the car you’re going to be practising in, start with that. Get the policyholder to call for a quote for the appropriate additional cover. Note it down and then continue your search. You’ll need to compare car insurance quotes from the existing insurer side by side with alternative learner insurance quotes from various companies. If you find a lower quote elsewhere, try asking the existing provider if it can match or even beat your lowest quote.
  • Consider your coverage needs. Think realistically about how often you’ll have the opportunity to practise in your own time and also about the period of time you’ll be practising over. Try and give an accurate estimate of how long you’ll need your learner cover to last. If in doubt, check with your driving teacher, as they’ll have a rough idea of how long they think it will take you to pass your test based on your ability as it stands.
  • Compare providers. There are hundreds of car insurance providers on the market and the majority of them also offer cover for learners. Be sure to compare a large number of quotes from a varied array of companies. Don’t pick the first quote you get. Chances are, there’s a better one out there.
  • Increase the voluntary excess. This is the amount you’ll need to pay if you make a claim. Opting for a higher excess will reduce premiums, but make sure you can afford to pay the excess should you need to.
  • Investigate “black box” insurance. If you want to take out an annual cover, a black box car insurance policy that monitors your driving and rewards careful drivers could help keep costs down.
  • Discount codes and coupons. Here at Finder, we’re in the inner circle when it comes to discounts and deals. If there is a discount or offer on learner driver car insurance, we’ll be the first to let you know and help you save.

    Are learner drivers higher risk?

    You might assume that learner drivers are at a much higher risk of being involved in an accident – and therefore needing to make an insurance claim – than those that have passed their test. But, in reality, as learner drivers must always be supervised by a more experienced driver, this decreases their risk. This means that premiums as a learner driver may be lower than you expect.

    However, all of that is likely to change when you pass your test, as you will be driving without the safety net of an experienced person to alert you to risk factors you may not have registered. Data from the Association of British Insurers shows that younger drivers (aged between 17 and 24) are far more likely to be involved in accidents than those aged 25 and over. The younger group makes up just 7% of UK licence holders, but are involved in 24% of all fatal collisions.

    Some key lessons here. Firstly, don’t go gung ho the minute you pass your driving test: A bit of caution will keep you safer and your no claims record clean. Secondly, shopping around for the best car insurance deal is vital if you’re a younger driver.

    Pros and cons of taking out a dedicated learner driver car insurance policy

    Pros

    • Flexible policies that let you get cover from as little as a few days.
    • Some policies let you top up as you need to if learning takes longer than you expected.
    • You won’t need to pay cancellation fees if you want to switch to a different provider after you pass your test.

    Cons

    • Dedicated learner driver policies will stop covering you as soon as you pass your driving test.
    • You’ll usually need to shop around for a new policy rather than simply calling your existing insurer once you’ve passed your test.
    • It may work out pricier on a daily rate rather than annual insurance or being added as a named driver on someone else’s car.

    The bottom line

    You have a legal obligation to have car insurance to drive as a learner driver. If you take lessons with a professional instructor, you’re likely to be insured as part of the lesson cost. If you want to practise in your own car, or a friend or family member’s, you’ll need your own insurance. Dedicated learner driver car insurance is an easy, flexible way to get insured, but consider your personal circumstances and whether you can get more suitable or cost-effective cover by taking out an annual policy or becoming a named driver on someone else’s car insurance.

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