Getting behind the wheel for the first time can be a daunting prospect and, despite the subsequent cost, getting as much practice behind you before your test can be the best way to fine-tune your skills. Although most learners employ the help of a certified driving instructor, many young drivers turn to their friends and family for some extra practice hours in their car.
There are however, strict rules on who can teach you to drive and the insurance you must have to ensure you can legally drive someone else’s car and are covered in the unfortunate event of an accident. To aid learner drivers in this position, we have put together a complete guide to learner driver insurance to make sure you are fully covered when you need to get those final hours of practice.
Who can you learn to drive with?
Although you may have a specific person in mind when it comes to learning to drive, whether that is a parent, a friend or another relative, there are certain criteria your teacher must meet to ensure you are abiding by the law. You can apply for your provisional driving licence at the age of 15 years and nine months, but you cannot start driving until you are 17. By law, you can practice your driving with anyone who is over 21, has had their full driving licence for three years and is qualified to drive the type of vehicle you intend to learn in. Some insurers however may apply stricter terms than what the law allows, for example your accompanying driver must be over 25. Unfortunately, you can be fined up to £1,000 and have 6 points on your provisional licence if you happen to be driving without the correct supervision.
Anyone whom you pay to teach you to drive must be either a trainee driving instructor, or an ADI (qualified and approved driving instructor). By law, you can only drive on motorways in England, Scotland or Wales if you are accompanied by an approved driving instructor and the car you are driving is fitted with dual controls. Whether you are learning to drive with an instructor, or practising with someone else’s car, you must display ‘L’ plates on the vehicle, so they are visible from both the front and the rear of the vehicle.
How can a learner be insured to drive?
No matter who teaches you how to drive, by law you must be insured when you get behind the wheel. This is one of the reasons why driving lessons are so expensive, as learner’s insurance is included in the price. However, if you decide to practice with someone other than your professional instructor, you will need to take out insurance, so you are covered in the case of an accident. Typically, there are two options a learner driver can take so they are insured on someone else’s car.
The first option is being added as a named driver to an existing policy. Whoever owns the car will contact their insurance provider and will add you as a named driver- meaning you will be added to the insurance certificate, ensuring you are covered should you have an accident. It is important to realise that this is likely to increase their insurance premium sharply, so this should be taken into consideration beforehand.
The second option is taking out a specific learner driver insurance policy. This would be a separate policy which will ensure you are covered for as long as the policy is active. This particular type of standalone policy is created with the fact you will soon pass your exam - meaning you can take out a policy for a relatively short period of time; however long you need to practice. Taking out a learner driver policy will provide comprehensive, flexible insurance coverage whilst you practice for your driving test.
There is also potentially a third option for insuring a learner driver. If by chance the car owner has an ‘any driver’ policy, its terms and conditions may provide cover for you without having to take out a separate policy. However, many of these policies will not cover drivers under a certain age, or provisional driver licence holders.
Will having an accident affect their NCD?
A person’s No Claims Discount is an important, well-guarded aspect of their insurance. With the inexperience which comes as being a learner, driving someone else’s car for practice does put their no claims discount at particular risk. It is important to bear this in mind when it comes to considering the two main options you have when taking out insurance as a learner driver. If you opt for the named driver option and you have an accident, this could directly affect the policyholder’s no claims discount. Although some insurers may protect the policyholder, typically the learner driver would have voided any discount which may have accumulated over the years.
If, however you choose to take out a separate learner driver policy, you can rest easy with the knowledge that their no claims discount is safe. As this is a completely separate insurance policy, when you drive the car it will comprehensively protect you; when the policyholder drives their car, their insurance policy will cover them as per usual. This will allow you to put the hours of practice behind you, knowing that you are sufficiently covered for as long as the policy has been taken out for.