Car insurance for new drivers under 21

Under 21 and looking for cheaper car insurance? Here’s how to get the cover you need at the right price.

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There are several options if you’re a young driver looking for the right insurance – from black box insurance that tracks your driving, through to getting yourself added to your parents’ policy. Here’s what you need to know about your options for getting cheaper insurance if you’re aged under 21.

Why do I need under-21 car insurance?

It’s illegal to drive in the UK without car insurance. Car insurance can protect you, your passengers and anyone else involved in an accident.

Unfortunately, from a statistical point of view, young drivers are much more likely to be involved in an accident than other road users. UK figures show that almost a quarter (23%) of 18-24 year olds crash within two years of passing their driving test.

As a new young driver, you’ll find you’ll pay more for coverage. This is because countless studies have found that younger drivers have more accidents than other drivers. Drivers under 21 are more likely to take risks and make questionable decisions with their cars.

But car insurance provides cover for much more than just accidental damage. If your car catches fire, is stolen or vandalised, or is damaged by storm, hail, explosion or even earthquake, your policy can help cover the cost of repairs to get you back on the road. Additionally, if using your vehicle results in property or vehicle damage to a third party, your policy can offer legal liability cover to provide the protection you need.

What levels of cover are available?

There are three levels of car insurance available to drivers:

  • Third Party Insurance. The most basic form of car insurance available and also the minimum legal level of cover required in the UK. Third Party Insurance covers you if you damage someone else’s property or injure them while driving, and will also cover your passengers too.
  • Third Party Fire and Theft Insurance. This type of policy offers mid-level cover, combining a number of benefits at a lower cost. It includes third-party liability cover when you damage someone else’s vehicle or property in an accident, plus it also covers loss or damage as a result of fire, theft or attempted theft.
  • Comprehensive Insurance. Comprehensive car insurance is designed to offer a high level of protection for you and your vehicle against an extensive range of risks. It provides cover for loss of or damage to your vehicle caused by collision, vandalism, theft or attempted theft, fire, hail, storm, flood, explosion and earthquake. This type of policy ensures that your vehicle is repaired or replaced following an insured event. It also includes legal liability cover for if you are ever responsible for damaging someone else’s vehicle or property in an accident.

How much does under-21 car insurance cost?

Car insurers calculate premiums based on the likelihood of you one day making a claim. The greater the risk of you making a claim, the higher your premiums will be. Unfortunately, this is bad news for drivers under the age of 21, as they are statistically much more likely to be involved in an accident. Car insurance costs substantially more for drivers under the age of 21 and purchasing cover can be one of the major expenses you need to contend with when you get your first car.

However, there are a number of other factors that also have an impact on the cost of under-21 car insurance, including:

  • Your driving experience. Generally speaking, the more driving experience you have, the less you will have to pay for cover. Your involvement in any accidents and any past fines and offences will also be taken into account.
  • Your claims history. Previous car insurance claims will negatively impact the cost of your premiums.
  • The sum insured. The higher the amount your car is covered for, the more you will have to pay for cover. For example, a late-model luxury car will obviously have higher premiums than a cheap, three-door hatchback.
  • Where the car is kept. Cars kept locked in a secure garage overnight are less likely to be stolen and therefore cheaper to insure. They’re also less likely to sustain damage than vehicles parked on the street.
  • Where you live. If you live in an area with a high crime rate, this could mean you pay higher premiums than someone who lives in a “safer” area. The type of driving you do will also be a factor, such as if you drive on busy city roads in peak hour traffic, or if you only ever take short trips on quiet country roads.
  • How often you drive. If you cover 30,000 miles each year in all sorts of driving conditions, you’ll pay more for cover than someone who only drives a total of 5,000 miles a year to their local shops and back.
  • The features you select. Additional features such as roadside assistance will also drive up the cost of cover.
  • When you pay your premium. Some insurers will charge more for cover if you pay your premium in monthly instalments rather than in an annual lump sum.
  • The no-claim discount. You may be able to earn a no-claim discount for every year you do not make a claim on your policy.

Adding yourself to your parents’ policy

Considering the cost of under-21 car insurance, it’s definitely worth asking your mum or dad to add you to their policy. If this is an option for you (ie, if you share a car with your parents and they’re happy to include you in their cover) you could ask your parents to add you as a nominated driver to their car insurance policy.

While this will cause their premiums to rise, the added cost could be cheaper than if you were to take out a separate policy for yourself. Even if your parents ask you to chip in to help cover premiums, you’ll still save money.

If you choose this option, be mindful that your mum or dad would still need to be the main driver of the policy and use the car proportionately more than you. Adding you as a nominated driver when you actually use the car more than your parents is considered “fronting” and is illegal. If you’re found out, your insurance could become invalidated and you may face other consequences.

How to compare under-21 car insurance policies

If you’re looking for an under-21 car insurance policy, it’s vital to compare your options to find the policy that’s right for you. Factors to consider when weighing up your options include:

  • The cost. Cost is obviously going to be an important factor for anyone purchasing a policy, so obtain quotes from a number of different insurers to see which is cheapest. However, remember to look beyond the final figure to the benefits and limits of each policy to ensure you’re getting value for money.
  • What’s covered. Read the policy carefully to find out exactly when you are covered and what you are covered for. Does the policy offer new-for-old replacement if your vehicle is a write off? What about cover for emergency repairs, transport and accommodation? Can you choose your own repairer and is there a lifetime guarantee on repairs? Can you cover your car to the agreed value, its market value or either option?
  • What’s not covered. Next, check the exceptions and conditions that apply to the policy to see if one policy offers a higher level of protection than the competition. Also, check the list of general exclusions so you know when and why the insurer will refuse a claim.
  • The excess. How much will you need to pay in the form of an excess when claiming? As well as a basic excess, will an additional excess be charged because you are a young driver? It’s also worth checking to see whether you can adjust your excess in exchange for a higher or lower premium.
  • Additional options. Check to see what additional options you can include in your cover. For example, can you add extra cover for windscreens or immediate roadside assistance?
  • Claims process. Remember to investigate the claims-handling process of each insurer. Check out what you need to do to make a claim, how and during which hours you can contact the claims team and how quickly claims are processed.

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Choosing a policy

After finding several policies that suit you, it’s time to compare prices by getting quotes. Remember that your goal is to find the car insurance that’s right for you. This might not always be the cheapest.

  • Use an online comparison site to compare quotes from a number of different insurers. Use these quotes to establish a ballpark price range for your insurance needs. If you receive a quote offering you a suspiciously good price, try to find out why and make sure it’s not missing something important.
  • Always read the small print and understand the terms and conditions. Know what is included in and what is excluded from your coverage.
  • Compare insurers as well as their policies. Research their reputation, their claims record and their level of customer service on websites and social media platforms.

How to save on under-21 car insurance

Buying car insurance when you’re under 21 can be expensive, as insurers will take your young age and lack of driving history into account when calculating your premium. However, there are several things you can do to reduce the cost of your premium, including:

  • Complete an advanced driving course. Some insurers will offer discounted premiums to young drivers who complete a course in advanced driving skills and road safety, such as the Pass Plus scheme.
  • Consider a telematics policy. If you’re a safe and careful driver, having a black box device fitted to your car could mean lower premiums. The device will monitor your driving and braking habits and calculate future premiums based on your results. Just remember that premiums can go up as well as down.
  • Choose only the cover you need. Minimising the number of extra features you add to your policy will keep costs down.
  • Choose a higher excess. Most insurers should allow you to choose the excess amount that you must pay when you make a claim. A higher excess will result in cheaper premiums. However, due to your age, you may have a compulsory excess added to your policy, which would be non negotiable.
  • Protect your car. Vehicles fitted with safety features like traction control and anti-theft devices are usually cheaper to insure than cars that don’t have these features. Cars kept in locked garages are also cheaper to cover than those parked on the street.
  • Maintain a clean driving record. Because insurers consider your driving history when calculating your premiums, being a “good” driver and avoiding speeding fines and other offences will help keep the cost of cover down.
  • Pay annually. Some insurers charge higher premiums if you pay for cover monthly rather than annually.
  • Buy online. Many insurers offer premium discounts if you purchase your policy online rather than over the phone.
  • Take advantage of discounts. You may be able to take advantage of discounts offered by your insurer, for example, if you insure more than one vehicle or if you have other types of insurance with the same company.
  • Compare policies. This is the easiest way to save money on under-21 car insurance. By comparing the benefits, features and conditions of a range of different policies, you could save yourself hundreds of pounds. Start comparing insurers and policies at finder.com/uk today.

Traps to avoid with under-21 car insurance

There are a few issues to be aware of when purchasing under-21 car insurance. Common traps include:

  • Not comparing your options. It’s vital to compare multiple under-25 car insurance policies before you purchase cover. Not only will this help you find affordable cover, but it will also help you choose a policy that matches your needs.
  • Paying monthly. Many insurers will charge you extra if you decide to pay your premium in monthly instalments. If this is the case, either pay annually or find an insurer that doesn’t charge extra for paying monthly.
  • Ignoring the excess. If a car insurance quote seems too good to be true, it most likely is. A cheap policy may save you money on premiums but then hit you with a huge excess when you make a claim.
  • Fronting. To avoid the high premiums imposed on young drivers, some people will falsely list a parent or other older person as the main driver. This is called “fronting”. It’s illegal and could lead to your claim being refused.
  • Not reviewing your policy. While it’s easy to simply renew your cover with the same insurer when the time comes each year, shopping around can save you a whole lot of money. Car insurers often don’t reward their customers for loyalty, so regularly review the cover offered by your current insurer and obtain quotes to see if you might be able to find a better deal elsewhere.

Tips for saving money when adding a teenager to a car insurance policy

If you’re thinking of helping your teenager out by adding them to your own car insurance policy, there are a few tips to keep in mind that might save you money.

  • Consider black box insurance or telematics insurance. Having a special device fitted to your car that monitors your driving habits is all about getting a personal driving record for insurers to set your premiums by, rather than being lumped into a group price because of your age, location or other factors. And as it works for multiple drivers, you may be able to get significantly lower premiums than you would otherwise.
  • Consider making yourself the named driver. While some insurers might refuse to add your high-risk teenager to your policy, think instead about your teenager taking out a policy themselves and you being added as a named driver on that. Doing so could bring down the premium.
  • Consider pay-as-you-go car insurance. If your teenager is studying away from home, chances are they’ll only want to drive your car during holidays so consider adding them to your policy on a short-term basis rather than all the time.
  • Shop around. Find the best quotes by shopping around on the comparison sites but remember to compare the policy details and cover offered rather than just the price.

Bottom line

While finding car insurance as a young driver can be difficult, it’s still possible to find an affordable policy that meets all your coverage needs. Compare car insurance policies to find the perfect coverage for your set of wheels.

Frequently asked questions

The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products we can track; we don't cover every product on the market...yet. Unless we've indicated otherwise, products are shown in no particular order or ranking. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations), aren't product ratings, although we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it; this is subject to our terms of use. When making a big financial decision, it's wise to consider getting independent financial advice, and always consider your own financial circumstances when comparing products so you get what's right for you.
*51% of consumers could save £257.97 on their Car Insurance. The saving was calculated by comparing the cheapest price found with the average of the next three cheapest prices quoted by insurance providers on Seopa Ltd’s insurance comparison website. This is based on representative cost savings from January 2021 data. The savings you could achieve are dependent on your individual circumstances and how you selected your current insurance supplier.

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