Facts & Statistics

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Learner Driver Facts

A handy guide to learner driver car insurance

It’s an exciting time if you’ve just got your provisional licence and are about to take to the road. But it can be a confusing and expensive time, too. Fear not – we’re here to help.

Whether you’re learning to drive in your parents’ car or getting your friend to teach you, you’re going to need the right car insurance. To help you find a good deal, we’ve put together this easy-to-follow guide answering your most pressing questions.

Plus, check out our Young Drivers tool, which will give you an idea of all the other costs involved in running your own car, information on the cheapest cars to insure and our guide for new drivers that’s full of practical help for newbies.

Find out all you need to know about young driver’s car insurance, including car insurance for 21-year-olds.

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Do learner drivers need insurance?

If you’re having lessons with a professional driving school, then most of them include insurance in the price of the lessons. But if you want to practice in your own car, or in a friend’s or relative’s car, then you’ll need insurance.

Types of car insurance policy for learner drivers

Getting cover for a learner driver isn’t too dissimilar from insuring a qualified driver, with several options to choose from:
  • Third-party only – this is the minimum cover required by law. It covers you for damage or injury you cause to other people
  • Third-party, fire and theft – as well as the benefits from third-party only, this type of policy also includes cover for your car being stolen, or damaged by fire
  • Comprehensive – includes the benefits of all of the above, but also provides cover for injuries or damage sustained to you and your car
  As a learner driver, you should also consider the length of policy you need:
  • Annual cover – this is the most common form of car insurance, providing you cover for the whole year, and is automatically renewed at the end of the term
  • Short-term or temporary cover – this covers you for a specified period. This could be from as little as an afternoon, up to 30 days. This may be ideal if you’re only looking to take private lessons with a friend or family member as you approach your test date, but it’s more expensive as a daily rate compare to annual cover

If you’re going to be taking regular lessons with one friend or family member in particular, you should consider being added as a named driver on their policy. This will afford you the same level of cover as they do, and allows you to drive their vehicle whenever you need a lesson. However, this will usually increase your friend or family member’s premiums, so they should be aware of this before agreeing to adding you to their policy.

What does learner driver insurance typically cover?

A dedicated learner driver insurance policy will cover you for your practice lessons in your own time as long as you’re with a qualified and eligible supervisor. This can be a friend or family member, but they must be at least 21-years-old and have held a full driving licence of their own for at least three years. However, some insurance providers may have their own limits, such as a minimum supervisor age of 25, so you should check for any limits to your cover. Other limits could include the time of day you’re allowed to drive. 

It’s important to know that, while learner driver insurance can cover you for your driving test, if you then pass the test, you’ll no longer be covered to drive the car home as a qualified driver.  

A learner driver insurance policy acts as a separate policy to your supervisor’s insurance. This means that you don’t need to worry about their policy and potential no claims bonus being affected if you get into an accident while driving their car.

What’s the most suitable type of car insurance for learner drivers?

Comprehensive car insurance may be the ideal type of insurance for you as a learner driver, as it provides the most cover. However, finding the most suitable policy as a learner driver will depend on your personal circumstances and how much you can afford. There are three main types of cover available:

  • third party only  – this covers you for any injury you cause to other people and any damage to their property
  • third party fire and theft  – similar to a third-party policy, except that it also includes cover for the theft of your vehicle or damage by fire
  • comprehensive  – includes all the cover of a third-party fire and theft policy, but also protects you as a driver and can pay out for damage you cause to your own car. You might think this would be the most expensive type of policy but that’s not always the case, so it’s worth comparing your options to get the right cover for you.

How can I reduce the cost of learner driver insurance?

While cheap insurance for learner drivers can seem hard to find, there are some things you can do to make it cheaper: 
 
Share your car with an experienced driver – you could reduce the cost of your premium by adding them to your insurance policy. The insurance provider takes both drivers’ information into consideration and creates a price based on each of you sharing the car. 
 
Offer to pay a higher voluntary excess - although this could cost you more in the event of a claim, as you’ll need to pay the  voluntary excess  you choose, as well as the compulsory excess set by the provider, it could mean a cheaper monthly premium in the short term. Just make sure you could afford the total in the event of needing to make a claim.

How has the driving test changed?

While you’ve probably been asking friends and family about their driving test experiences, you should know that things have likely changed since they took their test. In 2017, several changes were introduced, including:

  • The independent driving section was extended to 20 minutes, up from 10
  • A section following directions from a sat nav was introduced
  • The reverse around a corner maneuver was removed
  • The turn in the road maneuver was removed

Learner driver road safety & statistics

Learning to drive is an experience shared by most. As many as 33 million adult citizens in England (roughly 75% of driving age) currently hold a license, with 17 million British men and 16 million women allowed to legally get behind the wheel.  

And that’s perhaps no surprise, given how common it is to catch a glimpse of the familiar giant red “L” whilst we’re out driving. But how do learners taking to the roads every day translate statistically?  

Let’s take a closer look at what life currently looks like for a learner. From insurance rates to the best (and worst) places to take your test.

Best and worst place to pass the driving test

Stats published by the government have shown that the UK average for first-time passers sits at a relatively respectable 46.4%. Despite that, there are some test centres which have shockingly high (and low) success rates. Some of the best areas for first time pass rates included:
  • Isle of Mull – 90.9%  
  • Inverary – 89.4%  
  • Pitlochry – 84.8%  
  • Ballater – 78.3%  
  • Mallaig – 78.3%  

At the other end of the spectrum, the following centres had the worst first-time rates in Britain:

  • Carlisle LGV – 25.7%   
  • Birmingham (The Pavilion) – 26.2% 
  • Rochdale (Manchester) – 28.2% 
  • Enfield (Bancroft Way) – 28.6% 
  • Erith (London) – 30.1% 

It’s worth noting though, only 11 people took their test during this period on the Isle of Mull, while 2,416 took the test at the Rochdale test centre in Manchester. But just why are some of these young and inexperienced drivers failing?  According to the DVSA in 2019/20, the top ten reasons for failing your driving test were:

  • Junctions (observation) 
  • Mirrors – (change direction) 
  • Control (steering) 
  • Move off (safely)
  • Junctions (turning right) 
  • Move off (control) 
  • Response to signals (traffic lights) 
  • Positioning (normal driving) 
  • Reverse park (control) 
  • Response to signals (traffic signs) 

At the other end of the spectrum in the same year 6,121 people passed first-time with 0 faults.

Learner driver demographics

We naturally associate learner drivers with teenagers – and there’s definitely logic to that. But it’s not just the young who learn to drive.

Government statistics showed that as many as 3,782 people aged 61 or over, took a driving test in the UK between 2019-2020. Of those, just 1,330 would pass their test, with 739 men and 591 women.

By contrast, the most successful demographic for passing on the first attempt was those aged 17, with as many as 55.8% of teens in this bracket earning their licence on the first try.

Surprisingly, there’s a noticeable decline in first time pass rates for those aged 18-23, with results showing an average drop-off to 46.3% - a decrease of 9.5%.


For all these ages the overall, first-time pass rates are:

  • 17-year-olds – 55.8% 
  • 18-year-olds – 47.6% 
  • 19-year-olds – 45.3% 
  • 20-year-olds – 44.8% 
  • 21-year-olds – 45.7% 
  • 22-year-olds – 46.3% 
  • 23-year-olds – 46.3% 

 

From this age on there’s a gradual decline until around only a third of learners are passing first time aged around 51. Numbers tend to fluctuate more at this point because there are significantly fewer people taking the test.

When it came to comparing men and women, numbers were of equal interest. There was a slight divide in the successful pass rates between genders in both the practical and theory tests.

Theory Test

Female

49%

Male

45.4%

Practical

Female

42.6%

Male

49.6%

This reversal in fortunes was reflected to some extent in the number of attempts which both genders took to fully attain their licence. The numbers showed:  

Attemp 1

Male – 180,999

Female – 153,418

Attempt 2

Male – 96,804

Female – 91,876

Attempt 3

Male – 48,687

Female – 49,873

Attempt 4

Male – 24,314

Female – 26,813

Attempt 5

Male – 12,395

Female – 14,502

Attempt 6+

Male – 14,835

Female – 20,060

Points on a learner driver’s licence

It might not be something you associate with learners – or even think possible for them to have – but points are just as much a factor for someone learning to drive as they are for experienced heads. 

In fact, if you get enough points while being taught, it’s actually possible to have your licence taken away from you the second you pass.  

Points on your provisional are carried over to your full licence if they haven’t expired. If you do get a total of 6 or more points within two years of passing your test your licence will be revoked so you can no longer drive. So, if you rack up lots of points on your provisional licence, your full licence can instantly be revoked when you pass.  You’ll also have to get a provisional licence and take both theory and practical parts of the driving test again to regain a full licence.  

Bizarrely, for some drivers who’ve clocked up points on their provisional licence, it might make more sense to wait for anywhere up to four years to take their test. This is the average amount of time it takes for certain points to be taken off a licence.  

When it came to points being accrued, the following offences were the primary cause for alarm at the latest count in the UK: 

  • 142 – Dangerous and drunk driving offences  
  • 2,295 – Speeding fines  
  • 382 – Accounts of insurance error 
  • 58 – Vehicle test condition offences  
  • 302 – Other motoring offences  

Why are learner drivers more at risk?

Learner drivers might have the guidance of a professional or experienced driver alongside them at all times, but that doesn’t make them immune from accidents and other mishaps on the road which might accrue points.  

There are a number of reasons why learner drivers might still find themselves in trouble: 

  • Overconfidence. While very few people start out super confident, it only takes a few good lessons to gain an increased amount of confidence. Some drivers fall into the trap of thinking they’re ready to tackle the road at the same level of competence as experienced motorists. As many as 98% of young drivers think of themselves as safe. Unfortunately, this is almost always not the case. 
  • Poor assessment of hazards. Most learners won’t be familiar with all the different kinds of hazards and risks you’d normally find on the road. This comes down to a lack of on-road experience, rather than anything else. Experienced heads will spot a red flag before an incident occurs. A learner may not.  
  • Unfamiliar conditions. Whether it’s because of rain, a lack of light or even having more passengers in the car than normal, conditions play a huge factor in driving. While an experienced motorist will be able to quickly adapt, it can be jarring for newcomers to the road. The net result of this could be a greater risk of danger.  

Learner driver COVID-19 safety

Learning to drive is tough at the best of times. But with the stress of COVID-19 looming over your head, you’ll be facing new challenges which those that came before you never had to worry about.  
 
If you feel like now is the right time to begin learning, then don’t put it off. Learning to drive is a really important step in life, both in terms of practicality and experience. Just know that you’re going to have to approach things a bit differently to how things were in the pre-pandemic age.

Learner driver COVID-19 safety

Learning to drive is tough at the best of times. But with the stress of COVID-19 looming over your head, you’ll be facing new challenges which those that came before you never had to worry about.  
 
If you feel like now is the right time to begin learning, then don’t put it off. Learning to drive is a really important step in life, both in terms of practicality and experience. Just know that you’re going to have to approach things a bit differently to how things were in the pre-pandemic age.