Learner drivers long for the day when they can swap their green provisional card for the hallowed pink full driving licence – a landmark day in their quest for freedom on Britain's roads. Some instructors suggest their successful students go on to take the Pass Plus course, highlighting the benefit of putting in more hours behind the wheel, gaining experience of different driving in conditions and on different roads. Others suggest that there might be savings to be had on car insurance costs if Pass Plus is attained – but not every motor insurance company will offer this type of discount on car cover.
So what is Pass Plus?
When Pass Plus was launched in 1996 it was meant to give new motorists extra driving experience with the additional benefit that insurers would recognise this effort and offer drivers a discount of up to 35% on their motor insurance. Unfortunately, 17 years on, the bulk of the discounts that exist are nowhere near that level – and that's if you're lucky enough to find an insurance provider who will offer you anything.
Despite car insurance prices for young drivers at record levels, the majority of insurers seem not to view Pass Plus as a decent indicator of effort and quality of driving anymore. The Pass Plus course can cost anything from £99 to £160 depending on where you choose to learn. It can, and definitely does, help many young drivers by giving them a chance to drive on a variety of roads for a long period of time, testing their mental endurance and concentration. But if you’re looking for a sure-fire, straightforward way to bring down the cost of your insurance, you might be disappointed.
Can you actually get a discount?
The government’s new mega website (gov.uk) until recently included a list of car insurance providers that offered a discount on premiums for drivers who completed Pass Plus. But due to the lack of market consistency this list has been taken down. Instead, the website simply states that some insurers still offer a discount.
Among the companies that give discounts for the Pass Plus, Co-operative Insurance offers a healthy 40% discount when a certificate is presented. Other companies such as Direct Line, Aviva, Young Marmalade and Churchill also offer discount for Pass Plus drivers – these tend to be around the 5% mark. Don't be fooled by big discounts, however, it doesn't always mean you're getting a cheaper or better policy – it could simply be a discount off a high premium. It’s always important to shop around for the most competitive rate, discount or otherwise.
Telematics are the future
One option for young people in their quest for lower car insurance premiums could be telematics. Drivers can have ‘black box’ satellite technology fitted inside their cars to measures their driving behaviour - from how vigorously they accelerate to how harshly they brake to where they park at night.
The black box insurance policy is then priced on the data, with safer driving styles rewarded with lower premiums. Co-operative Insurance offers telematic technology and found that 92% of women and 97% of men have been rewarded with a discount on their insurance for safe and consistent driving. Aside from telematics, the only real way of bringing down the cost of car insurance for young drivers is to buy a small car with a tiny engine and ensure they keep building their no claims policy.
If you don't claim for 12 months the cost of insurance will drop by a third and then continue to fall over the following five years. Insurance companies hope this no claims 'bonus' will provide some incentive for young people to drive in a safe and respectable way.