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Car insurance and driving licences

Does your driving licence affect your car insurance?

published: 17 January 2020
Read time: 5 minutes

Driving licences come in different types depending on a range of factors – here’s how the type of licence you have can affect your car insurance premiums

Does your driving licence affect your car insurance?

You need a driving licence to operate a car on UK roads, but the details of your licence can influence how much you pay for car insurance. Factors include:

  • The type of licence you have

  • Any convictions or points on your licence

  • Any medical conditions declared on your licence

  • The length of time you’ve held your licence

Driving licence

Do I have to give my insurer my driving licence information?

When you look for car insurance quotes it’s not mandatory to give your driving licence number. However, a service known as MyLicence, developed by the DVLA and MIB, lets insurers use your licence number to see your driving records and information automatically.

This means they can provide a more accurate car insurance quote based on your record – rather than having to input all the information yourself, risking making a mistake and invalidating your policy.

What types of driving licence are there?

To drive on UK roads you’ll need one of the following licences:

  • A full UK car licence

  • A full EU licence

  • A full European (Non-EU) licence

  • A full international licence

Is car insurance more expensive with a non-UK driving licence?

Car insurance tends to be more expensive for people with international driving licences – if you are inexperienced with UK roads you are at a higher risk, in insurers’ eyes, of making a claim – not least because the chances are you are used to driving on the other side of the road!

It’s also possible that you won’t be able to carry over your no-claims bonus if you have a non-UK licence. There are specialist insurers in the market that will let you transfer your bonus over, so it’s worth shopping around for cover as it can help knock your premiums down.

What types of full UK driving licences are there?

You receive a full UK driving licence once you’ve passed your practical and theory exams, and they’ll let you drive certain types of vehicle – depending on the categorisation of the licence. Full UK licences also come with variations:

  • A full UK car licence in its standard issue

  • A full UK car licence for automatic cars only entitles you to drive on UK roads solely in cars that have automatic transmission

  • A full UK car licence with IAM indicates that you’ve taken and passed an advanced driving course with IAM RoadSmart

  • A full UK car licence with Pass Plus shows you’ve taken and passed a different advanced driving course with Pass Plus

  • A medical restricted full UK car licence is for people with medical conditions which can affect their ability to drive – the full list of conditions can be found on the government website

Can I drive in the UK without a full driving licence?

If you don’t hold a full driving licence but you want to drive in the UK, you’ll need to apply for a UK provisional licence – and you’ll be able to take the UK driving test after living in the country for six months.

Will I need car insurance to drive in the UK?

The continuous insurance enforcement rules mean it’s a legal requirement for all cars to have at least third-party car insurance in place to drive on UK roads.

If you’re transporting your own car to the UK, your existing policy should cover you to a third-party level – but you might need a green card to prove you have insurance in place.

If you’re hiring a car in the UK you won’t need to take out a policy as it’ll already be included in the price of the hire.

If you buy a car in the UK you’ll need a UK car insurance policy, and if you’re borrowing a car from friends or family you’ll need to be added to their policy as a named driver.

What types of non-UK driving licences are there?

You’ll also be able to drive in the UK with an international licence, but depending on the country it’s from you might have to exchange it for a UK licence. You can group foreign driving licences into the following categories:

1.       EU/EEC licences

If your driving licence was issued in a European Union (EU) or European Economic Community (EEC) country, you can use it in the UK until it expires – you won’t need to retake your test or exchange it for a UK licence.

Your EU/EEC licence will expire either when you turn 70 or three years after you become a UK resident, whichever is longer.

However if you were issued an EU licence by exchanging a non-EU drivers licence you’ll need to pass a UK driving test after 12 months to continue driving in the UK.

2.       Exchangeable international licence

You’ll be able to drive in the UK for up to 12 months if your driving licence was issued in the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey or Gibraltar, as well as any of the following designated countries:

  • Australia

  • Barbados

  • British Virgin Islands

  • Canada

  • Falkland Islands

  • Faroe Islands

  • Hong Kong

  • Japan

  • Monaco

  • New Zealand

  • Republic of Korea

  • Singapore

  • South Africa

  • Switzerland

  • Zimbabwe

Once the 12 months is up you’ll be able to exchange your licence for a full UK licence, without having to retake your test, within five years of becoming a UK resident.

3.       Non-exchangeable international licence

If your licence was issued by a country not in the EU, the EEC or the list above, you’ll still be able to drive in the UK for 12 months – but once this is up you’ll have to pass the UK driving test to get a full licence. You won’t need to take any lessons, but you might find it useful either way.

How can I reduce the cost of cover if I have a non-UK driving licence?

If you hold a non-UK driving licence it’s worth thinking about the following ways to lower the cost of cover:

  • Buy a manual car: Manual cars are generally cheaper to insure, as automatic gearboxes cost more to repair or replace. It’s also worth noting that insurance ends up cheaper when you have a full driving licence, as opposed to an automatic-only licence

  • Take a driving course: Driving courses such as Pass Plus and IAM won’t always get you cheaper car insurance, but they might if you’re a younger or less experienced driver

  • Apply for UK licence: If you have an EU, an EEC or an exchangeable international licence you’ll be able to swap it for a UK licence after living in the country for six months, so if you’re planning a long stay it’s worth doing so to get a discount on your premiums. However if you have a non-exchangeable licence you’ll have to apply for a provisional licence and pass a driving test – again, you’ll be able to do this after being a UK resident for six months

Do driving convictions affect the cost of car insurance?

Having driving convictions on your licence can make it harder to find cover: some insurers will refuse outright, while others will charge more in premiums. People with a history of driving convictions are statistically more likely to make a claim on their policy.

Do I have to tell my insurer about my driving convictions?

You’ll only need to declare any driving convictions if they’re unspent – convictions become spent after a certain length of time, which depends on the nature of the conviction. Once it’s been spent it can be ignored and you won’t have to tell your insurer.

You shouldn’t be tempted to hide or lie about your convictions, as doing so will void your car insurance policy.

How do different driving convictions affect car insurance premiums?

Some driving offences can have more impact on your insurance premiums than others – but there are always other factors involved in deciding the overall cost of your policy. Below are some of the most commonly declared driving convictions by people looking for car insurance on MoneySuperMarket and the average premiums they pay.

What if I have more than one conviction on my licence?

If you have multiple convictions on your licence this is likely to increase your premiums further.

Will having a medical condition affect my car insurance?

Before you get your car insurance quotes you’ll need to mention whether you have any medical conditions that need to be reported to the DVLA – and if so, you’ll be asked for details about restrictions you might have on your licence.

This is because certain medical conditions, like diabetes, epilepsy or sleep apnoea, can affect your ability to drive safely.

What health conditions need to be reported to the DVLA?

There are a number of conditions that will need to be reported to the DVLA, including:

  • Diabetes

  • Epilepsy

  • Sleep apnoea

  • Heart conditions

  • Glaucoma

  • Strokes

  • Visual impairment

  • Physical disabilities

How do I notify the DVLA about my medical conditions?

If you have a medical condition you can check if it’s one you need to report – and find the appropriate forms to do so – on the government website.

Do I have to tell my insurer about my medical conditions?

If you have any medical restrictions you’ll need to tell your insurer as well as the DVLA.

Will having a licence restriction affect the cost of my car insurance policy?

So long as you’ve been issued a drivers’ licence, even with medical restrictions, your insurer can’t refuse to cover you, raise your premiums or charge a higher excess fee based on your health – unless they have evidence that you’re an increased risk.

Does holding your licence for a long time reduce premiums?

As well as the type of licence you have and any medical conditions or convictions declared on it, the length of time you’ve held your licence is also a factor. As you might expect, car insurance is generally cheaper for older or more experienced drivers – people who’ve held their licence for five years pay on average around £600 less per year for cover.

Compare car insurance with MoneySuperMarket

No matter what kind of licence you hold, you’ll need valid car insurance to drive on UK roads. Comparing car insurance policies with MoneySuperMarket is a quick and easy way to find the right cover – just tell us a little about yourself, your car and your driving history, and we’ll put together a list of quotes that match your requirements.

You’ll be able to compare policies by the overall annual and monthly cost, the excess you’ll need to pay and the cover you’ll get when you buy. Once you’ve found the deal you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.

As with any kind of insurance, the price isn’t always the most important factor. We suggest looking for a policy that offers the exact cover you need for the best possible price, so you can avoid over- or under-insuring yourself.

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