Car insurance for 18 year olds

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How to get cheaper insurance for 18-year-olds

There are plenty of ways for younger drivers to keep the cost of their car insurance down to a minimum. It will still be expensive, but with the right policy, the right insurer, and the right car, insurance for 18-year-olds can be more affordable than you might think.

Below are five things you can do to get cheaper car insurance at 18:

Do pick the right level of car insurance cover

There are three levels of car insurance for drivers on UK roads:

Third party, which covers damage or injury to others caused by you in a road traffic accident.

Third-party, fire and theft, which also pays out in the event your car is damaged by fire or stolen.

Comprehensive, which covers all losses incurred during a road accident, including any damage to you or your vehicle.

Don’t assume third-party cover will be the cheapest when searching for car insurance. 

Insurers often hike the price of third-party insurance as they know it appeals to drivers looking for cheap cover. Comprehensive cover often works out more affordable, so shop around.

Do buy an affordable first car

Many 18-year-olds pass their driving test and immediately set about getting their first car. There’s a vast array of inexpensive vehicles out there, but if you make the wrong choice, your car could end up costing less than your annual insurance premium.

Check to see which insurance group your dream car is in before handing over any money. Many more popular vehicles sit in higher insurance groups, meaning they are more likely to be involved in accidents, stolen or broken into, and cost more to repair. 

If possible, opt for a smaller car, ideally one with a less powerful engine, to ensure insurance is not too expensive while you’re still building your no claims discount (NCD).

Do add a named driver to cut your car insurance costs

After they’ve generously allowed you to drive their beloved car while learning, your parents or a sibling may appreciate you repaying the favour by adding them as a named driver on your policy.

The significant advantage of having a second, more experienced driver on your policy is that insurers will conclude that a proportion of the miles driven in the insured car will be done by someone with an established track record. This could mean you’re offered a lower premium. If possible, choose a named driver who is over 25 as this will cut costs further.

Do have black box insurance installed

Black box car insurance, also known as telematics car insurance, is used to track how you drive. Depending on the policy, it might check your mileage, but you can top it up if you find yourself approaching your agreed annual limit.

Alternatively, it could monitor your speed, braking and when and where you drive. This type of policy might prevent you from driving late at night or on a motorway. If you drive safely and within the policy limits, you could get a partial refund; if you exceed the limits, you might have to pay more.

Some young drivers don’t like the sound of black box insurance, but if it means you can get on the road, it may be worth considering – and as a bonus, the GPS-monitored black box can be traced if your car is stolen.

Do take an advanced driver course

Several organisations, including PassPlus and IAM RoadSmart, offer advanced driving qualifications in the form of day courses. These typically cost between £100 and £200, which may sound steep, but they could be worthwhile if they save money on your insurance.

When you next apply for car insurance, rerun your quote as if you had taken an advanced driving course. If the difference is in the region of what you’d pay for the course, it may be valuable, particularly as the cost-saving benefits carry over for many years to come.

Think about your car insurance excess

When you apply for car insurance, you are asked what voluntary excess you are willing to take on. This excess is the amount you are willing to stump up in the event of a claim before the insurer steps in.

However, your voluntary contribution is only part of the total excess. Insurers also tend to add a compulsory excess, which can be several hundred pounds.

Increasing the voluntary excess (or selecting a policy with a hefty compulsory excess) can help lower your premium, but those fees could leave you covering the full cost of a repair or even leave you empty-handed if your car is a write-off. Try to be realistic about what you can afford when selecting your policy.

Things to avoid when looking for cheap car insurance when you're 18

Don’t add car modifications

Even if you opt for a cheaper car, modifications such as body kits, alloy wheels or an aftermarket exhaust will increase your insurance because they either boost your car’s power output or make it more appealing to thieves.

If you have already bought a car that has been modified, run two car insurance quotes on a comparison site, one with and one without the modifications disclosed. If the difference is significant, consider having the mods removed.

Don’t overestimate your mileage

The average motorist clocks up between 6,000 and 7,000 miles a year. Many of these drivers use their car to commute to work or to travel to holiday destinations, which an 18-year-old is arguably less likely to do.

Drivers under 25 tend to drive half the number of miles a year that older drivers do. As a recently qualified driver, you’re unlikely to know how many miles you’ll cover over a year, but you should be able to make a rough guess. Try to gauge what you do in a typical week and multiply it for the year.

Where can I find cheap car insurance for 18-year-olds?

The best, most reliable place to find the cheapest car insurance for 18-year-olds is on a price comparison site. This lets you see many potential policies on the results page and tweak your requirements, such as excess levels, to see what works best.

Why is car insurance so expensive for 18-year-old drivers?

In a word: statistics. Unfortunately for thousands of careful young drivers on UK roads, facts make insurers wary. Insurers base premiums on claims data, which shows that young drivers cause a higher-than-average number of the most expensive claims. This explains why Consumer Intelligence reports that the average car insurance premium for 17–24-year-olds is £1,912.

According to the Department for Transport, drivers aged 16 to 19 are a third more likely to die in a crash than drivers aged between 40 and 49.

For an 18-year-old, the fact that one in four drivers aged less than 25 will be involved in a crash within two years of passing their test is particularly sobering, particularly since many would have received their full licence while still 17.

The way you use your car may be different, too. Young drivers often have cars full of other young people. In a crash, these friends get injured too. Paying out for a lifetime of care to a permanently disabled person costs insurers more the younger they are because the care is expected to last for longer.

What kind of driving should 18-year-olds avoid?

Any kind of driving that could lead to an accident or points on your license. Both will lead to a hike in your insurance premiums and perhaps worse.  

Avoid distractions

Some young drivers use their cars for recreation. They are often accompanied by noisy friends, blasting music and a phone buzzing with messages. Driving takes concentration, and distractions increase the chance of not spotting a hazard until it is too late.

Don’t allow anyone to egg you on

Younger passengers – or friends in other cars – may encourage you to take unnecessary risks. The more dangerous behaviour you participate in, the more likely you are to have an accident or gain points on your licence.

Try not to be overconfident

If you’ve recently passed your test, try to avoid becoming overly confident as you get comfortable driving by yourself. There’s no substitute for being careful – even older drivers need to pay attention to how they’re driving. 

Try to avoid the following behaviours:

  • Speeding

  • Tailgating

  • Overtaking

  • Jumping lights

  • Racing

  • Not wearing a seatbelt

What are young drivers getting so wrong?

Young drivers, arguably 18-year-olds in particular, are penalised for two things about which they can do nothing. First, they lack road experience, and this will only come with time.

Second, although the age of 18 is the point at which you become a legal adult, scientists say our brains don’t stop developing until around the age of 30*. This may mean that younger people are liable to react emotionally rather than logically, which is not ideal when driving.

The result is that insurers assume that there is a greater chance that young people will take risks, show off or bend to peer pressure. The evolving brain and a lack of road experience can be a fatal combination, but it’s more frequently just very expensive, whether the driver avoids a crash or not.

Are there any alternatives to car insurance?

You cannot drive on UK roads without valid car insurance, so the simple answer is no. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a policy in your own name to drive legally.

While you can’t pretend that someone else is the main driver of your car to benefit from cheaper insurance – that would be a form of fraud known as fronting – you can be a named driver on another person’s car.

Is temporary car insurance for 18-year-olds worth considering?

Many 18-year-olds will not have their own car and may not be insured on a parent or sibling’s car either. Yet, they might need access to a vehicle for a short period of time, such as if they are transporting their belongings to university.

In this case, short-term car insurance cover may prove useful and certainly less expensive than an annual policy.

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Last updated: 23 May, 2022