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Learner driver insurance protects you while you're learning and until you get your full driving licence
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Last updated
August 10th, 2023

What is learner driver insurance?

Learner driver insurance – also known as provisional licence car insurance – is designed to:

  • Cover drivers who have not yet passed their driving test

  • Allow holders of a government-issued provisional driving licence to drive on the road legally

You don’t need learner driver insurance if all your lessons are with a registered driving instructor, as their insurance will cover you to drive their car.

But, you’ll need car insurance if you have a provisional driving licence and want to get in extra driving practice in a private car. The exception is if the car owner has added you to their policy as a named driver.

If you take out learner driver insurance, you’ll need to change it to a different type of insurance once you pass your driving test."

Do I need learner driver insurance?

Not all learner drivers need car insurance. It depends on how you’re learning to drive.

There are a few ways you can learn to drive, and these determine whether you need to take out learner driver insurance.

  • Your own car: Learner driver insurance policy or temporary car insurance policy

  • Someone else's car: Learner driver insurance policy, temporary car insurance policy or named driver on the owner’s policy

  • In a driving instructor’s car: None, as you’re covered by your instructor

  • Driving school for under 17s (or similar): None if lessons take place on private land

Remember, it’s illegal to drive on public roads – or even at a deserted car park – in the UK without car insurance.

Find out more about how learner insurance works and what to do if you need cheap learner insurance.

How old do I have to be to get UK learner driver insurance?

To get learner driver insurance for a car, you normally need to be at least 17 years old. You’ll also need a valid provisional driving licence. 

However, there’s one exception: you can drive a car when you are 16 if you have the enhanced rate of the mobility component of the Personal Independent Payment (PIP), which offers support to people with long-term ill-health or disability

What does learner driver car insurance not include?

Most learner car insurance policies have a maximum value limit for the cars they’ll cover. This could be anything from around £20,000 to more than £50,000 depending on whether you own the car or it’s someone else’s property. 

Likewise, there will usually be an insurance group limit, of say, Group 45. 

In both cases, it’s best to check if any insurance policy will cover you for the car you’re using as a learner driver.

Most learner car insurance policies have a maximum value limit for the cars they’ll cover."

How long do I need learner driver insurance?

It depends on how long you take to pass your driving test. You can either get short-term learner driver insurance or an annual policy.

  • You’ll be able to find temporary learner insurance policies that cover you for from a single day to a maximum of five months

  • If you’ve already booked your driving test, make sure you’re covered up until that date if you’re driving a private car

When you pass your test, you will need to compare insurance for young drivers or arrange temporary car insurance, which will cover you until you’re able to purchase a full policy.

How to choose the best learner driver insurance

It’s the right cover – not the cheapest price – that should be the most important factor to consider:

Be realistic about the cost

Learner driver car insurance normally works out more expensive than regular car insurance as someone who’s learning to drive is considered more likely to have an accident than a more experienced driver.

Look at what cover you need

Don’t focus too much on finding cheap learner driver insurance, decide what cover you need first.

Compare deals

Always compare learner driver insurance to find the best deal for your needs.

What is the cheapest way to insure a learner driver?

If you’re planning to use your own car, the best way to find cheap cover is to compare learner driver car insurance policies online.

If you’re planning to learn to drive in someone else’s car, you can either get your own policy or ask them – the owner – to add you to their policy as a named driver.

This will likely see their premiums increase, but the added cost may still be less than the cost of taking out your own separate policy. So, they may agree if you’re willing to stump up the difference.

Be aware that while being a named driver can be a good way to get cheap learner insurance, it will affect the other person’s premiums in the future if you have an accident while driving.

Can I take out learner driver insurance on my own car?

If you have your own car, the best way to achieve long-term savings on your car insurance is to take out your own policy while still driving on a provisional licence.

This means:

  • You can start building your no-claims bonus even before you’ve passed your driving test. Once you start building your no-claims bonus, your premium should drop steadily each year as long as you don’t make any claims

  • You won’t risk damaging your friend’s or relative’s no-claims bonus by being a named driver on their policy, plus their insurance premiums will be unaffected

I passed my test! What now?

The first thing you’ll need to do is to compare car insurance policies to make sure you get the best cover for a fully qualified driver.

Once you’ve found the right annual policy, ask your insurer to cancel your learner car insurance or convert it to a standard policy. 

Remember, you can’t drive uninsured, so you need to ensure there’s no gap between cancelling your learner driver insurance and taking out standard car insurance, even if your car is stored in a garage or on private land. If there’s likely to be a gap, register your car as off-road. If you don’t you could face a £80 fine.

Most providers won’t reimburse you for any provisional car insurance cover you haven’t used, but there’s usually no cancellation fee.

Incidentally, it’s always best to bear cancellation fees in mind when buying learner driver insurance.

Car insurance for new drivers can be expensive, so be prepared for your premium to rise once you can legally drive unaccompanied. For this reason, it’s worth finding out how to get the best possible deal on new drivers’ car insurance.

If it’s all a bit too soon for you - for instance, if you don’t have long-term access to a car or are heading off to university - you can also get temporary insurance for younger drivers.

"Be prepared for your premium to rise once you can legally drive unaccompanied."

FAQs

Do I need insurance while I learn to drive?

Yes, you must be insured if learning in your own car or using someone else's on publicly accessible roads and car parks. Find out how to get learner driver cover here.

What happens if I do not have car insurance?

It’s illegal to drive in the UK without car insurance. If you do, you could face a fixed fine, six points on your driving licence and your car being seized and destroyed.

What do I need to get learner driver insurance?

You’ll need to have a UK provisional driving licence and be at least 17 years old – unless you get, or have applied for, the mobility element of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). In this case, you can drive from 16. You’ll also need a qualified driver – aged 21 or older, with at least three years as a full licence holder – to accompany you when you drive.

What happens when I pass?

Contact your insurer to cancel your learner policy. They can upgrade your cover to a qualified policy; if not, you can find car insurance quotes here.

If you’ve passed your test and you’re under 25, look for car insurance for young drivers. Also, research how to pay less if you’re 17 and have passed your test.

Additionally, you might want to exchange your magnetic L plate for a green P plate. This lets other drivers know that you’re a relatively inexperienced driver. If you’re driving in Northern Ireland, you must display an R plate for one year after passing your test.

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About the author

Lucinda O'Brien
Lucinda O'Brien has spent the past 10 years writing and editing content for regional and national titles. She applies her industry knowledge to ensure readers can make confident financial decisions.

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