Learning to drive can be daunting because it’s often expensive, so any additional costs like the hefty insurance premium for provisional licence holders can make it too much of a financial burden for some.
How to get car insurance for provisional drivers
There are a few different ways to get car insurance for provisional drivers, depending on how you decide to learn to drive. Your options, as a learner driver, are:
- Stick to driving lessons: This is the cheapest option, because the price is included in the lesson, but it means you won’t be able to practice driving so it may take longer to pass your test – and the cost of lessons will add up.
- Temporary or short-term cover: You can buy a specialist, short-term policy which allows you to drive your own car or somebody else’s car as long as you are accompanied by a full-licence holder. You should choose one which lasts for three to six months, because that is the average amount of time it takes to pass the driving test, according to the DVSA.
- Full annual car insurance: You could buy a full annual policy on your provisional licence and then either cancel it (you could be charged a cancellation fee of around £150, though this will depend on the provider – you should check your policy documents to be sure) or update it once you have passed your test. However, if you are between 18 and 24, this is likely to increase your premium payments – but there are ways to cut the cost of insurance for young drivers.
- Become a named driver on someone else’s car: If your parents (or partner) want to help you learn to drive, then you could always become a named driver on their car insurance. You won’t be able to have your own car but it could be a much cheaper way than having your own insurance, temporary or otherwise. However, the main driver of the car (your parent or partner) could see their insurance premium increase considerably, and it will probably increase again when you pass your test, if you choose to stay on as a named driver.
Please note: It is illegal to put someone else as the main driver of a car insurance policy when they aren’t really the primary user of the car, and it’s known as ‘fronting’. It can be tempting to list a parent as the main driver of a car, when really a younger driver will use it, as it could drive down the cost of cover – but this is against the law. Being caught fronting can result in insurance companies refusing any claims, points on your licence, and more expensive insurance premiums in the future.
According to quotes on MoneySuperMarket between January 1 and April 30, 2018.
Buying a provisional insurance policy and then cancelling
As mentioned above, it may be cheaper to buy a provisional licence holder’s car insurance policy and to cancel it than to pay for temporary insurance, or ‘top up’ your annual insurance once you have passed.
While you will probably have to pay a cancellation or exit fee, it could be worth doing if you could get a cheaper deal from another provider when you pass your test. For example, if you paid upfront for an annual policy with Insurer A and they increase the cost when you pass, you may be better off paying the cancellation fee and taking out a cheaper policy with Insurer B.
Be careful about cancelling insurance when you pay monthly, too. Paying monthly is effectively a credit agreement – and your insurer will run a credit check before they approve this – and you could be forced to repay a whole year of premiums.
As always, check what the insurer’s policy is for cancellations before you commit to a policy.
This above figure was calculated using the DVSA recommended tuition hours (45 hours) and the average cost of lessons per hour (an average of £27 across four driving schools) in Greater London, plus both theory (£23) and practical (£62) driving tests. All data correct as of May 2018.
Use a driving school
If the cost of insurance is still out of your budget, it might work out a bit cheaper and more cost effective to just learn with a driving school. Here, the car insurance and fuel are included in the price of the lesson.
The price for driving schools vary depending on your location as well as the company you go to, but in Great London you could be looking at a price of somewhere between £24 and £29 per hour lesson.
Prices checked May 2018, and are when purchasing 10-hour blocks of lessons in Greater London.
As you can probably guess, this can become expensive. The DVSA suggests having 47 plus hours of instructor-led learning – which means that it could cost between £1,128 and £1,363 in the capital, however this can vary depending on your location.
The amount of lessons necessary to pass your driving test will depend on if your instructor thinks you are ready, and will differ between drivers as some will need more help than others.
However, it is recommended that you have around 22 hours of private lessons (practise with family or friends) in between. As it is illegal to drive without insurance, you may well have to buy a short term insurance policy anyway.
Only book your practical driving test when you are fully ready, because doing so before might mean you fail, and this can become expensive (each test will cost £63 during the day/£75 in the evening or at the weekend) and you may need to book more time in the instructor’s car (this will depend on your instructor and driving school).
Find out more in our article about learning to drive.
Pick your car carefully
Choosing the right model of car can have a major bearing on the price of your premiums when buying provisional licence insurance.
Every car is assigned to a car insurance group numbered between one and 50 with cars in group 1 generally being the cheapest to insure, and those in group 50 being the most expensive. Most new drivers will pick a car in group 1 to 3, otherwise it is much more likely to pay over the odds for car insurance.
Find out which insurance group your car is in
Every car in the UK is allocated an insurance group to help insurers work out the cost of cover, running from 1 (cheapest premiums) to 50 (highest).
Key in your reg to find out where your car sits
Enter your registration number
Oops! That doesn't look quite right - can you check and enter again?
The car registration
Matches the car
Which belongs to Car Insurance Group
“the right model of car can have a major bearing on the price of your premiums”
Performance enhancing modifications such as the addition of spoilers or alloy wheels will bump up the cost of car insurance cover and so should be avoided wherever possible, especially for learner drivers. A full body kit, for example, could increase your premium by as much as 11.8%.
Security-enhancing modifications, however, such as alarms and immobilisers can make premiums cheaper, as they reduce the chances of your car being stolen.
How learners can drive down the cost of cover
Here are a few tips to make your policy cheaper if you are learning to drive.
- If you are a provisional licence holder, your own car insurance premiums will be much cheaper if a more experienced and older motorist is a ‘named’ driver on your policy.
- Learner drivers who learn in someone else’s car should also be able to benefit from cheaper premiums as they won’t be the main driver on the policy.
- Some insurers offer short-term learner driver car insurance, so if you learn to drive in that time, it might work out much cheaper than adding a learner driver to an existing annual policy.
Drive a smaller car in a lower insurance group, with no modifications if possible.
Compare insurance with MoneySuperMarket
You will have a better chance of finding the cheapest car insurance for provisional licence drivers available if you compare deals available through multiple insurers.
MoneySuperMarket does the leg work for you, comparing deals available through over 120 car insurance providers in the hope of finding the best deals on the market.
When you fill in the form, give your personal details alongside your address and occupation. Different postcodes unfortunately have an effect on car insurance as you could live in a rural area with winding roads, or equally in a city hotspot for thieves.
Your job also affects your cover, because you might use your car more than someone who just commutes to and from the office and the more time spent on the road, the more risk to the insurer.
When you buy provisional licence insurance, make sure you compare different providers to get the best deal for you. When you pass your test, you will need to update your insurance, and you can either stick with the company you choose for your provisional insurance, or compare again and pick a new provider.