Get quotes from these car insurance providers and more
Last updated: 29 September 2020
Young, first time drivers face a real challenge trying to find affordable car insurance. In fact, for many of this age premiums are prohibitively high. But there are ways to reduce the cost of cover, if you know where to look.
Insurers base premiums on several factors, including age, road experience, claims history, the age and type of car driven and where you live. Unfortunately, 17-year-olds have next to no road experience, but there is a lot of evidence that they cause and make claims.
Drivers aged 17 to 19 are involved in 9% of road traffic accidents, despite making up just 1.5% of UK licence holders, according to Brake, the road safety charity.
There are several reasons why this is the case, including:
poor assessment of risks – a lack of driving experience means young drivers don’t necessarily spot risks early enough to react
speeding – linked to risk assessment, novice drivers are not experienced at knowing what the appropriate speed to drive at is in particular circumstances, despite the speed limit
not wearing seatbelts – peer pressure can encourage young drivers to forego belting up
using mobile phones while driving – Brake found that 19% of young drivers admitted texting at least once a week while driving
carrying passengers – accidents involving young drivers are more likely to happen when other people are in the car, resulting in injuries and higher claims
driving at night – driving when tired is dangerous, and as more young drivers are likely to drive at night for recreation, they are involved in a higher proportion of accidents
The lack of driver experience, and the higher volume of crashes involving 17-year-olds is the main reason why insurers charge a higher premium for annual car insurance cover.
Add to this the fact that young drivers tend to have crashes with their equally young friends in the car, often injuring them. Insurance payouts for those permanently disabled cost more the younger the victim as the payout has to cover the rest of their life. This makes young driver claims some of the most expensive the industry has to pay.
The average car insurance policy for 17 to 24s is £1,912, according to the Consumer Intelligence car insurance price index. The sum is so high to reflect the fact that younger drivers are more likely to make claims, and expensive claims at that.
Young drivers tend to pack their cars with friends, who if injured are entitled to claim on the third-party element of the driver’s insurance. The cost of treatment and rehabilitation can be huge.
Likewise, younger drivers are more likely to be involved in collisions at speed, resulting in more damage than would be caused by, say, reversing into another car in a supermarket car park.
With the average 16 to 17 year old in work earning around £200 a week, according to a House of Commons report, finding the average premium of £1,912 a year is daunting.
It’s not helped by the fact that insurance is expensive for everyone, so relying on parents to cover the cost of your insurance alongside their own may not be possible. Instead, it makes sense to find ways to get insurance for less of an outlay. Here are some options:
It’s your first car, and given the higher risk of it being pranged, it makes sense to opt for a cheaper model with a smaller engine. Cheaper cars are less likely to attract thieves and vandals.
Policy providers base car premiums on insurance groups, of which there are 50. Cars in higher insurance groups cost more to insure, so it makes sense to find a model that is in a lower group to save money.
A car’s registered owner is free to add named drivers to their car insurance policy. Typically, this would be a parent or sibling aged over 25. Insurers look favourably on named drivers as it means some of your annual mileage will be driven by a more experienced driver.
Note that under no circumstances should you be tempted to apply for car insurance using someone else as main driver and you as named driver, if you will do the bulk of the driving. This is known as ‘fronting’ and is illegal.
Telematics or black box insurance polices reward good driving with potentially lower premiums than the average 17 year old would get with standard car insurance policies.
It involves a GPS-enabled device installed in the car, which tracks braking and driving speeds as well as where and at what time you take to the roads. You agree to limit the number of miles you drive, although you can top up with some policies for an extra fee.
While some drivers don’t like the idea of their movements being tracked, the idea is that if you drive safely and sensibly, and abide by any policy restrictions, such as not driving at night, you are rewarded with cheaper insurance.
Even a novice driver is able to take an advanced driving course, which typically involves a few hours of extra tuition with an approved instructor. Several courses are available, including PassPlus and IAM RoadSmart.
Advanced driving course typically cost between £100 and £200, but it could save you more than this on the right policy. It’s worth noting that some councils offer discounts on the PassPlus course.
Adding alloy wheels, boosting the engine or enhancing the body kit might make your car stand out from the crowd, but it will inevitably increase your insurance premium, as it will either be more powerful, or more attractive to thieves.
If you buy a car that has been modified see if it is possible to reverse or remove any modification, if it is worth your while. Run a comparison site car insurance quote with and without the modification to see what difference it will make to your premium.
Before you even think about putting the key in the ignition of your first car you must get valid insurance. There are three levels of cover that will ensure you are legal to drive on UK roads:
third party is the most basic, and will cover damage and injury to others caused by you when driving your insured car
third party, fire and theft insurance provides additional protection as it will pay for losses you incur if your car is damaged or destroyed in a fire, or stolen
comprehensive insurance covers all of the above, plus it will pay for damage to your car and on-board property, plus medical costs if you are injured in a crash you cause
When you are taking out car insurance you will be asked whether you’d like to cover any voluntary excess. This would be the amount of any claim you are willing to pay before the insurer steps in to cover the rest.
In theory, the higher the excess you pay, the lower your premium will be, but this just half the story. A 17-year-old driver needs to think carefully about excesses, as there is no point in opting for a high voluntary excess that sees you pay all the damage on a low value car.
Also, remember that insurers usually add a compulsory excess, often on top of the voluntary excess. In some cases, this can be higher than the cost of your car, meaning if it’s a write-off, you receive no pay out.
Even as a learner you will need to be insured to drive on public roads. Typically, learners first experiences of driving are behind the wheel of a qualified instructor, who has cover for their students, or you’ll be a named driver on a family member’s car.
However, you may want to buy your own car and insure it so you can learn to drive in the vehicle you’ll be driving after you pass your test. If so, you’ll need learner driver insurance.
This is also relatively expensive, but it may be worth checking out. Note that you will need a UK Provisional Driving Licence, and must be accompanied when driving by a qualified driver age 21 or over and with at least three years’ experience.
Even though you can expect to pay a hefty price for car insurance at age 17, policy premiums vary widely. For this reason, it makes sense to use a comparison site to ensure you are not suckered into spending more than you need.
If, having searched high and low you still can’t find affordable insurance all is not lost. You could always ask a parent or older sibling if they could add you to their car insurance or the family’s multi car insurance as a named driver.
The upside is you are legally allowed to drive on UK roads, the downside is you won’t build up any no claims discounts. But, hopefully you will have plenty of time to do that when you can afford your own car insurance.
Young drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents and make insurance claims, so car insurers charge them more.
No, it is a legal requirement to have at least third party car insurance cover to drive in the UK.
No, insurers cannot take your gender into account when working out the cost of your insurance, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2012.
No, this is known as fronting and is illegal. The main driver must be the person who drives most, but you can add a named driver to your policy.
Yes, you must be insured if learning in your car or someone else's. Find out how to get learner driver's cover here.
It can cover damage to your and another driver's car after an accident. It can also cover theft, vandalism, fire and more.
It is the amount you have to pay towards any claim you make. Find out how car insurance excess works here.