Car Insurance for New Drivers

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By Crispin Bateman

Updated on Tuesday 29 October 2019

It’s easy to make the assumption that everyone passing their driving test is a seventeen or eighteen-year-old, with an enthusiastic attitude and a secret hope (not necessarily said out loud) that their parents are going to buy them their first car.

In fact, although the vast majority of people getting a provisional driving license and heading on their way to that exciting legal right to drive are between 17 and 25, there is still a spread of ages who are taking those first steps to getting on the road. According to government statistics, there were 26 people aged 95 and over who got a new provisional driving licence in 2017. The oldest was 103!

new driver

Being a new driver doesn’t always mean being a young driver, but it does mean setting up a new car insurance policy.

Getting car insurance can be frightening the first time. There’s that feeling that if you get it wrong you won’t be legal on the road, or the worry that it’ll cost too much. There’s the concern that a crash will happen and you won’t have the right insurance in place. This guide is here to help cover all that, and make sure you get the right insurance for you.

Why get car insurance?

Car insurance is a legal requirement in the UK – you cannot drive without it, as stated in the Road Traffic Act of 1988. That’s the first thing.

Actually, before we go any further, you can self-insure. You need £500,000 deposited with the Accountant General of the Senior Courts and then, should you have a car accident, you have to pay for all the damages yourself out of that bond, but it could save you thousands of pounds of car insurance over the years.

Or it could very quickly set you back half a million pounds. That’s a big risk!

Car insurance is amount you pay to have a company (the insurer) take on the risk of paying for any damage in the event of an accident. There could be more damage done than you might consider – even if you crash into a post and no one is hurt, there’s still damage to be put right and paid for. Maybe the post has been pulled from the ground… maybe someone needs to dig it up and replace it, which can take a few days to do… Already that post is costing you hundreds – and that’s without the damage to your own car.

A car accident, even a minor one, can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage, which someone has to pay for!

It’s much better to pay an insurance company regularly to be there to cover you if something does go wrong, rather than you having to pay up yourself one day.

Once you realise what it’s for, the premiums (the amount you pay monthly or annually) suddenly don’t seem so high.

Who do I get car insurance with?

There are lots of car insurance companies across the UK, all vying for your business, and their services are varied. Additional services you might get with your insurance include breakdown cover, free windscreen cover, cover for driving other cars, cheaper cover for a second driver, even a free cuddly toy. Car insurers are fighting for your custom, and will offer whatever they can to entice you.

The chances are that you’ll want some services, and have no need for others. Shopping around is a big part of getting good insurance – but it can be time consuming and a job just to know where to begin... that's where we can help!

What are the different types of insurance?

There are three main types of insurance:

Third party

This is the simplest form of insurance and is often the cheapest you can get to be legally allowed to drive. It covers other people (‘third parties’) but not you personally. If you are in a crash, the person you hit, their car, their passengers and even their pets sitting in the back of the car – all of this is covered and you don’t have to worry about the costs. Your car and your own injuries, however, aren’t covered - even though your passengers are (third parties).

In an ideal world, third party insurance would be considerably cheaper than the alternatives, but the truth is that there are many fully comprehensive policies that will work out more economic than third party and as such, these policies are slowly dying out. Until they do, however, we may be able to find you a third party car insurance policy to suit.

Third party, fire and theft

As the name suggests, third party, fire and theft covers everything in the third party policy, plus your car being damaged by fire or stolen. All the other parts of third party insurance apply.

Fully comprehensive

This is the most common type of car insurance.  It covers everything mentioned in the previous policies, plus any damage done to your car. Depending on the insurer and the specific policy, it could also cover car contents, your medical expenses should something have happened to you, driving abroad, a replacement courtesy car while yours is being repaired and more.

Unless there is a real reason not to – such as a substantially cheaper third party quote – most people opt for fully comprehensive insurance.

What’s an insurance excess?

When you make a claim, the insurance company has a pre-agreed amount, called ‘the excess’, which you have to pay towards the repair costs. For example, if the total bill is £3000, and you have an excess of £500, you will have to pay the first £500 and your insurer - the remaining £2500. Equally, if the bill is £300 and you have the same excess, you will be responsible for the full amount – in these cases, many people choose not to contact the insurance company at all so that they keep their no-claims discount, and just pay for the damages themselves.

Excess is split into two – compulsory excess which is set by the insurance company which you cannot avoid, and voluntary excess that’s set by you. Voluntary excess can be set at zero (and often is), but the more you set it at, the cheaper your premiums will be.

If you trust your driving and believe you won’t have an accident which causes you to claim on your insurance, then setting a larger voluntary excess will help you keep your monthly payments down.

What’s a No-Claims Discount?

Every year you drive without having an accident and calling on your insurance company to make a claim, you get a year of no-claims discount. These build up, so two years of continuous careful driving gives you a two year no-claims, etc.

Your no-claims discount goes a long way to lowering the price of your premium – it is tangible proof that you are a reliable low-risk driver and is appreciated by the insurance company.

No-claims discounts are transferrable, so there’s no need to stay with the same insurance company to maintain it. If you get a better offer somewhere else, then you can move over with your no-claims discount intact.

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