a white fiat 500 car

How Does Car Insurance Work For New Drivers?

Passing your driving tests and obtaining that elusive pink licence opens up a whole new world of adventure and exploration. Driving offers freedom that public transport, cycling or walking simply cannot offer, but as we’re sure you’re aware, it’s not quite as simple as tearing straight out of the test centre and off to your local McDonald’s drive through.

Aside from actually needing a car to drive, whether that’s your own, borrowed or handed down from friends or family, there’s one thing you must not forget about: Car insurance.

It’s boring, often expensive and you may even feel like it’s unnecessary… but, by law, you need it and if you do have an accident, you’ll be grateful for it. So, allow Scrap Car Comparison to introduce you to the world of car insurance, for new drivers.

Do Learner Drivers Need Car Insurance?

In some situations, you will need a car insurance policy even before you’ve passed your theory and practical tests. If you’re being taught by a qualified and approved driving instructor (ADI), or even a trainee instructor (PDI), then they will have taken out their own insurance policies that will offer a whole host of different coverage options. All you need to deal with is applying for your provisional driving licence.

The rules change drastically, however, if you’re being taught privately by a family member or friend. 

Before we get onto insurance, some important information – UK law states that your teacher must:

  • Be over the age of 21
  • Be qualified to drive the type of vehicle that you want to learn in (for example, they must be allowed to drive a manual transmission car if that’s what you’re learning in)
  • Have been fully licensed (provisional time not included) for a minimum of 3 years from the UK, the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

Failing to abide by these rules can result in a fine of up to £1,000 for you and even 6 penalty points on your provisional licence.

It is also illegal for:

  • Your supervising family member or friend to use a mobile phone during the session
  • You to drive on the motorway when practising with a family member or friend

Now, back to car insurance for learner drivers. This can be split into two categories; requirements for if you’re learning in a car you own, and requirements for if you’re learning in a car owned by someone else.

If you’re lucky enough to own your own even before you’ve passed your tests, you’ll also be welcomed into the world of car insurance from the moment you sign the paperwork (unless you can SORN it, that is). That’s because if you want to learn to drive, under private supervision, in a car that you own, you need your own insurance policy. Typically, this will also cover the friend or family member that’s teaching you.

However, if you’re getting behind the wheel of somebody else’s car and they’re guiding your progress from amateur to qualified driver, you will need to check if you’re covered by their policy as a learner driver. Alternatively, you can still take out your own policy as a learner driver if you want or need to, but one policy might make things simpler than two.

Some insurance policies require the supervising person to be over the age of 25, and driving without proper insurance may subject you to an unlimited fine, a whopping eight points on your licence and even a driving ban.

It pays to drive safely, because suffer that fate as a learner and, even if you are allowed back on the road, you can expect insurance premiums to skyrocket once you’re fully qualified. Speaking of which…

How Much is Car Insurance for a New Driver in the UK?

There’s no concrete answer to this question, simply because insurance prices vary based on where you live and where you’re planning to drive the car, your level of cover and excess, and of course, the type of car you’re trying to insure.

Your age is also considered, as is your level of experience, mostly in the form of your No-Claims Discount (NCD). This is a premium reduction calculated in relation to the number of years you’ve been driving without needing to claim on your insurance. As a new driver, you’ll be at zero, but it is transferable across all insurance companies and can save you serious money once you rack up the years.

In the not-so-distant past, it was actually completely legal for insurance companies to discriminate against young, male drivers and offer them higher insurance rates purely based on gender stereotypes. Thankfully, that was deemed grossly unfair and your personal characteristics are no longer allowed to affect your policy cost.

Your policy cost will also be affected by any add-ons that you may wish to include. For example, if you’re starting out with an old banger, breakdown cover might be good to have. Or, for new drivers across the board, NCD protection could be something for the future. Should you need to claim (and one in five new drivers will be involved in an accident within their first year on the road) then having your NCD protected will prevent it from resetting to zero and allow you to continue building up towards a big discount.

Moneysupermarket has collated an average price for the three core types of insurance, based on one named driver who has been qualified for up to a year. If you fall into that category, as of February 2022, you’ll be required to cough up somewhere in the following regions for car insurance:

  • Fully comprehensive (covers you, your car & other drivers from damage you cause. Also covers medical bills, fire damage, repairs & theft): £1,637 per year
  • Third-Party fire & theft (covers others for damage you cause to their car, property & themselves. Also covers you for fire damage & theft): £1,974 per year
  • Third-Party (covers others for damage you cause to their car & property): £2,276 per year

As you can see, car insurance for new drivers can often cost more than the car itself, so it’s important to consider which vehicle is going to be best for you as a road-using rookie, along with how else you could bring that premium down.

Can You Add a New Driver to an Existing Insurance Policy?

You can add a newly qualified driver to a pre-existing policy, and this strategy comes with its own ups and downs. Firstly, in the same way that adding a learner to an existing policy makes things simpler, adding a driver who has just passed their tests helps to streamline the insurance process and documentation by keeping everybody’s details in one place. It also allows the new driver to continue practising on the road even if they don’t have their own car yet, so that when they do, they’re not rusty.

On the other hand, the policy holder’s premium could increase by naming a new driver for the car. Also, returning to No Claims Discounts, if the new driver has an accident and needs to claim, the policy holder’s NCD will be affected. Flip that on its head and let’s say the new driver is faultless for a number of years. You’d think they’d accrue their own NCD, right? Wrong. The NCD will continue to grow for the policy holder, but once the new driver gets their own car, they start from scratch.

Which Cars Have the Lowest Insurance Rates for New Drivers?

So now that we’ve terrified you with average car insurance prices and you may have decided that hopping onto a family member’s policy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, let’s discuss which cars are the cheapest to insure for new drivers.

Once again, there’s no definitive answer to this as it depends on the individual vehicle, but there is a convenient method of classifying cars based solely on their cost to insure. They’re called Insurance Groups, and since 2010, there have been 50 of these categories. Cars in category 1 are the cheapest.

A car’s categorisation is determined by taking into account a multitude of factors that affect everything from how likely it is to be involved in an accident to how much it would cost to repair after one. When you’re looking for a new car, no matter how long you’ve been driving, it’s a good idea to keep the insurance group in the back of your mind.

Insurance Business UK is, as you’d expect, kind of a big deal in the world of insurance and at the end of 2021, analysed the facts and figures behind the nation’s car insurance rates.

Below is their list of the cheapest cars to insure, on average, for a new driver in the UK:

  1. Citroen C1
  2. Fiat 500 Pop
  3. Fiat 500 Lounge
  4. Peugeot 107
  5. Ford Ka
  6. Toyota Aygo
  7. Fiat 500
  8. MINI One
  9. Renault Clio
  10. Ford Fiesta Zetec (80)

As you can see, the Fiat 500 wins the market share of this top 10 list, but it’s Citroen that comes out on top with their tiny hatchback, the C1. In fact, you probably noticed that all of these cars are a bit on the smaller side, and that plays a part in why their insurance premiums are the lowest.

Smaller, cheaper cars are less likely to be driven around the streets like they’re a racetrack, and are also less likely to be taken on long, cross-country trips on busy motorways. The potential (and let’s be honest, that’s really all insurance premiums are calculated on) for something bad to happen when the car is being used as a cheap runaround to the local shops is pretty low, and the insurance fees reflect that.

Similarly, if something does happen, these smaller cars are going to cost a lot less to repair. This brings your insurance premium down significantly.

Can a New Driver Get Temporary Car Insurance?

Yes, new drivers are legally able to take out a temporary car insurance policy, but there are some factors, that may vary slightly depending on the company you choose, that can affect your ability to get temporary cover:

  • You must be aged between 17 and 78
  • You need to have had your full licence for at least 6 months 
  • The number of penalty points on your licence will be factored in
  • As will any disqualifications from driving within certain timeframes
  • Any criminal convictions may affect your coverage
  • Some companies may refuse you if you’ve claimed multiple times in the same year
  • Obviously, you need the car owners permission

As for the car itself, it should:

There are some insurance companies that even offer temporary insurance for learner drivers, so if you want to take your parents’ or partner’s or whoever’s car for a spin, check it out and hit the road. Just make sure they’re in the passenger seat beside you when you do…

If your first car has given everything it’s got and it’s time to move on to number two, or if you’ve unfortunately found yourself as one of those new drivers who have damaged their car beyond repair, consider selling it for scrap or salvage with Scrap Car Comparison. We’ll find you the best deals in just 30 seconds and our scrap buyers will even collect it for free, from anywhere in the country. Take a look at our locations and sell your car for scrap today!

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