An insurance guide for learner drivers

* Everything you need to know about car insurance * All types of policies explained * How to get the right policy for you...

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What Car? Staff
20 Aug 2012 10:17 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 0:3

Learning to drive, with its promise of independence and maturity, is certainly exciting.
However, it can also be a risky business, so check out our guide for learner drivers before taking the wheel.

The basics
Before you can start taking driving lessons, you must hold a provisional licence, which can only become valid on your 17th birthday (but can be applied for up to three months in advance).

It is also crucial to ensure that your eyesight is at least as good as the minimum standard required to drive on UK roads.

Equally important, however, is to make sure that any vehicle you will be learning to drive in is roadworthy and properly taxed and insured.

While it can be useful to practice driving with a friend or relative, it is also advisable to take lessons with a qualified approved driving instructor who has the experience, knowledge and training to teach you properly. After all, learning the right way to drive from the start will make you safer on the roads.

Whoever accompanies you when you are practicing without your instructor must also be over the age of 21 and must have held (and still hold) a full licence, in the relevant vehicle category, for at least three years.

While you are learning, you must also display 'L' plates in a conspicuous position on the front and rear of whatever vehicle you are driving.

The test
You can take your theory test, which should cost about 30, on the day that your provisional licence becomes valid, should you wish.

You driving instructor should advise you when you are ready to take the practical test, which costs no more than 75.

If you are keen to become as good a driver as possible, and reduce your annual insurance premiums, it may also be worth looking into the Pass Plus scheme.

It aims to help newly qualified drivers avoid accidents by teaching them how to drive more safely in towns, on motorways, in rural areas and at night as well as in difficult weather conditions.

The cost of the course (which takes at least six hours) will depend on where you live and the instructor or driving school you choose.

However, most people pay between 100 and 150 and save at least 200 on their first year's insurance.

Insurance
Learner drivers, just like those who have already passed their tests, can be involved in accidents while behind the wheel.

Getting the right learner driver car insurance is therefore a vital part of preparing to learn to drive.

In many cases, learner drivers practice using someone else's for example a parent or older sibling's car.

If that is the case, the insurance of the main driver of that vehicle must be altered accordingly, and any conditions adhered to, so that the learner is properly protected while out on the roads.

If, however, you are learning to drive in your own car, then a short-term learner driver policy could be a good option. You can get policies that last from 28 days up to 24 weeks.

Remember though that the person supervising your driving practice will not be able to get behind the wheel in an emergency if he or she is not insured on your car.

It is also worth checking how much it is likely to cost you to insure yourself to drive after taking your test before starting to learn. Insurance premiums for new drivers can be prohibitively high, meaning that you will not be able to drive even when you have passed your test because you cannot afford the insurance.

In this situation you could do your test and then have a few refresher lessons when you can afford to get insurance. However, it might be better to hold off for a few years and wait until have a bit more money before learning to drive.

Another option is to insure yourself as and when you need to. For example, students away at university could insure themselves on a parent's or sibling's car when they are back home during the holidays. This is becoming an increasingly popular option for young drivers although the downside is being a named driver on someone else's policy means you don't start to build up your no claims discount.

This article has been researched and written by whatcar.com's car insurance partner, MoneySupermarket