Car insurance for new drivers - a complete guide
Everything new drivers need to know about car insurance – from what policies are the best to how to save money and get the cheapest quotes in the UK.
LAST UPDATED: 25 September, 2019
Now you’ve passed your test and are ready to hit the open road, you are now one of the tens of millions of motorists in the UK who require a car insurance policy.
Unlike some other forms of insurance which are recommended (life insurance, travel insurance, etc.) car insurance is a legal requirement, and driving on UK roads without at least the minimum level of cover could land you a hefty fine, points on your licence or even a complete disqualification from driving (Source) – not the best start to your experience as a new driver in the UK!
As a new driver, it is now your responsibility to make sure your vehicle is always insured to be driving on UK roads – but where do you start?
We have put together this guide to help you understand your car insurance options as a new driver, and explain how you can go about saving money and get the best possible deal.
Car insurance policy types explained
There are three main types of car insurance policies available to you: Comprehensive, Third Party, Fire and Theft (TPFT) and Third Party Only (TPO).
- Third Party Only (TPO) – this is the minimum level of cover you need to be able to drive in the UK. TPO policies only provide cover for any third party damage you cause while driving (e.g. damage to another vehicle, property or personal injury). As such, it is generally the cheapest option.
- Third Party, Fire and Theft (TPFT) – this gives you the same cover as a TPO policy, but also provides cover for your own vehicle if it is damaged by fire or stolen. This is a popular choice for young and new drivers as they get an extra level of insurance compared to a TPO policy for not much extra in premium costs.
- Comprehensive – the most complete level of cover, but not necessarily the most expensive. As well as the cover you get from TPFT, a comprehensive policy will also cover any damage sustained by your vehicle in an accident, whether it was your fault or not.
Note: A common misconception some new drivers have is that a comprehensive policy also covers their vehicle for ‘wear and tear’ e.g. mechanical faults. This is not true. Comprehensive policies are there to offer cover in the event of an accident only.
What is the best insurance for a new driver?
When it comes to choosing a car insurance policy as a new driver, you need to make sure that it provides the right level of cover for you and your needs, rather than getting the cheapest policy available for the sake of it.
We always recommend getting a fully comprehensive car insurance policy, especially as a new driver, just so you’re covered for any type of situation.
For example, if you choose to have a Third Party, Fire and Theft policy, and you were involved in an accident, any damage done to your vehicle would not be covered, whether the accident was your fault or not.
A comprehensive policy, however, will make sure you don’t end up having to pay thousands of pounds for repairs in the event of an accident – it covers a range of eventualities, whereas the other policies are limited.
As insurers feel that sometimes those with a TPO or TPFT policy are more high-risk and more likely to claim on their insurance, a fully comprehensive policy may even turn out cheaper due to this, despite it providing more cover. Always compare quotes for various types of policies to see which ones will offer you the best cover at the best price.
How much is car insurance for a new driver?
New drivers – particularly young people aged 17-24 – have to pay the most in car insurance premiums than any other driver.
How much does it cost to insure a new driver?
On average, the cost of car insurance for new drivers is roughly £1000 - £979 for a 20-year-old driver, according to MoneySuperMarket.
While this is very expensive, there are certain companies that may be able to offer new drivers a cheaper car insurance quote. Having a black box fitted can also help to reduce premiums for younger drivers, which we will discuss in more detail later.
The reason why new driver insurance is so expensive in the UK is because, statistically, young drivers are more likely to be involved in car accidents and make claims on their car insurance policy than more experienced drivers.
In fact, young drivers are involved in 24% of all accidents on UK roads – despite accounting for just 7% of motorists. (Source)
Car insurance gets cheaper as drivers accumulate a No Claims Bonus, i.e. every year they don’t make a claim, they get a discount for their car insurance as they are a proven safe driver. As a new driver unable to demonstrate their safe driving record, you will be seen by car insurers as a higher risk to insure – and therefore be expected to pay more in premiums.
If you are a new driver aged over 25, you may find that your car insurance quote is cheaper than for young drivers. For more information see: Cheap car insurance for new drivers aged over 25
Although there is not much you can do about this until you get a few years of No Claims under your belt, there are some actions you can take to try and get the cost of car insurance as a new driver down…
As well as your age and relative lack of experience, the cost of car insurance premiums is based on a number of other factors.
The key to getting the best and cheapest car insurance deal possible for new drivers is to understand these other risk factors and do what’s in your power to limit the level of risk you present to a car insurance company.
Before we go any further, it is important to stress that you should always tell the truth to your car insurer – misrepresentation of your personal information can lead to your policy being invalidated, and in some cases, it is a criminal offence.
1. Pick the right first car
The smaller, cheaper and less powerful your car, the less of a risk you are to insurers, as if it is damaged, it won’t cost as much to repair or replace.
Also, if you are a newly-qualified driver and you have a powerful car, it will heighten your level of risk as the insurer will be worried that you don’t have the experience to drive it – which could lead to an accident and subsequently, an expensive claim on your car insurance policy.
All cars are listed in what are called insurance groups, which are used by insurance companies to determine the cost of covering them. Cars listed in insurance group 1 are the cheapest to insure, so if you want to keep the cost of insurance as low as possible then choosing in a car in a low group is recommended for new drivers.
2. Reduce your mileage
The less you drive, the lower your risk of having an accident, meaning your car insurance premiums will be lower.
When you get a quote for car insurance as a new driver, you will be asked what your annual mileage is, and it is important to be as accurate as possible when answering this. First of all, if you drive significantly more than your stated mileage, you may find your policy is invalidated if you ever need to make a claim. Secondly, if you over-estimate your mileage then you can end up paying for cover that you don’t need, so it's a good idea to get it right if you can.
As a new driver, you won’t yet have a good idea about how many miles you drive in a normal year, so you will need to break it down and work out how many miles you expect to drive in a normal week. For example, if you plan to drive to and from work, college or university (i.e. 40 miles per week), a couple of visits to the shops and family (25 miles per week) and a day out at the weekend (5 miles per week) that’s 70 miles total in an average week.
That would give you an annual mileage of 3,640, which you should probably round up to 5,000 just to account for the extra unplanned journeys you might make throughout the year.
3. Pay a higher excess
The policy excess is the amount of money you pay as a policyholder towards the cost of a claim. This means you take on a financial commitment to pay part of any claim, saving your insurance company a bit of money in the event of a claim.
The higher the excess you commit to, the lower your insurance premiums should be. However, it is important to only commit to an excess level you can afford. Don’t choose a huge excess just to get cheaper premiums if you don’t have the funds to pay it in the event of a car insurance claim.
4. Add an experienced named driver to your policy
A common tactic for new drivers to reduce the cost of car insurance is to add a named driver to their policy. If you add an older and more experienced driver – such as a parent – to your policy, the insurance company will recognise that, for at least part of the year, the car will be driven by an experienced driver and will therefore reduce the cost of the premiums accordingly.
As this tactic has grown in popularity car insurers have become wise to the fact that some named drivers have no intention of driving the car, and therefore the potential savings are not as high as they were a few years ago. However, it is likely to reduce the price a little – and every little helps when you are a young, new driver looking for cheap car insurance.
Note: Don’t be tempted to insure the vehicle under the experienced driver's name and add yourself as a named driver to save money. This practice is known as ‘car insurance fronting’ and is actually a criminal offence.
An option to consider here is getting a multi-car insurance policy. If you live with your parents, you can get new driver insurance for your car with the same insurer that covers your parents' car – with many offering attractive benefits and discounts when you sign up.
5. Take the Pass Plus advanced driving course
By taking an advanced course such as the Pass Plus, you will demonstrate to insurance companies that you are a responsible and more experienced driver, despite being new to driving – and you should get some form of discount on your car insurance premiums as a result.
6. Invest in anti-theft devices
As well as you potentially having an accident while driving, car insurance companies will also weigh up the risk of your car being stolen or damaged in the course of a theft.
Where you live and where you park the car overnight (on the street, in a driveway, in a garage etc.) all play a part in this, but you can’t really do anything about that.
What you can do, though, is fit security devices such as alarms, immobilisers and steering wheel locks to deter thieves.
The safer your car is and the less risk of it being stolen, the lower your premiums will be.
On a similar note, don’t make any ‘performance’ or aesthetic modifications to your car if you want to keep the cost of insurance low. Things like spoilers, bigger exhausts, tinted windows, expensive sound systems and so on can increase your car insurance premiums.
Learn more about how car modifications affect the cost of car insurance
7. Buy a dash cam
Another way of making your car insurance premiums cheaper as a new driver is to invest in a dash cam.
Not only do they help determine who is at fault in an accident, but they can also reduce the cost of premiums, depending on the insurance company you choose.
For example, car insurance provider SwiftCover offers a 10% discount to drivers who have a dash cam fitted inside their vehicle, and they offer an extra 2.5% off for those who have a Nextbase dashcam in particular. The well-known insurance company Admiral also offers discounts for those with a dashboard camera.
For more information about dash cam insurance discounts and which companies provide insurance reductions, read our guide here, and to look at the best dash cams available on Amazon now, see The Best Dash Cams 2019.
8. Pay for your insurance up-front
If you can afford to pay for the full 12-months insurance upfront, rather than on a monthly basis, you can net yourself some serious savings as a new driver.
Some insurers offer as much as 12% off for policyholders who pay up-front for the year, so it is well worth considering if you have the money available. If not, you could even consider using a credit card to pay it, and then pay that back month-by-month at an interest rate that still means you are saving money when you count the discount you received from the insurance company.
9. Shop around
To answer the question ‘who has the cheapest car insurance for new drivers?’, it really is a case of shopping around online, or perhaps even calling up car insurance companies directly to get different prices (some providers may give you a discount or a better deal if you ring up).
Below, we go through all the different options you have when buying car insurance below, but for now, it is important to state that the best deal on car insurance for new drivers isn’t always the first one you find.
It is important to shop around and compare as many quotes as possible, and also experiment with different levels of cover. You may think getting a Third Party Only (TPO) quote will be the cheapest, but this is not always the case. Some insurers may think that drivers who only want a TPO policy are actually the ones more likely to make a claim, so they price the premiums accordingly.
Now you are familiar with the basics of what car insurance cover you need as a new driver, and the practical steps you can take to keep the costs as low as possible, it’s time to look at where you can buy your car insurance from.
As a new driver, you will find most of the policies aimed at you are Black Box car insurance policies. These are also known as ‘telematics’ car insurance policies and it involves fitting a small black box to your vehicle to track your driving habits.
Black Box insurance is growing in popularity for new drivers as it can help keep the costs of insurance down to a manageable level. The insurance company can track how you drive, what roads you drive on, what times you drive etc. and base your level of risk on your actual driving habits – not just on statistics and averages. Therefore, if you avoid driving at busy times, keep to the speed limit and generally drive sensibly, you can get a reduction on your premiums.
Top Black Box car insurance providers new drivers should consider
Below, we have identified the top Black Box policy providers, so you can go directly to them for a new driver insurance quote:
- Admiral LittleBox. Admiral claims that new drivers can save as much as 28% with their Black Box insurance policy. Unlike some other providers, there are no driving curfews with Admiral LittleBox – although they do state that if you “regularly” drive after 10pm, you could see an increase in your premium. Read our Admiral car insurance review here or get a quote with them now.
- Direct Line Drive Plus. Direct Line’s black box policy offering is only available for new drivers aged 25 or under. They give you a discount upfront for the first year of cover, which is reviewed based on your driving score with further discounts available for the next year.
- Coverbox. This is a 'pay and drive' policy with no curfews and there is no limit on your mileage.
- iKube. Aimed at young drivers, iKube offer further reductions if you commit to not driving between 11pm and 5am.
- Insure The Box. This is the UK’s leading black box car insurance provider. Select your annual mileage (6,000, 8,000 or 10,000), and earn extra miles by driving safely. Alternatively, you can buy more miles as add-ons to your policy.
- Aviva Drive app. Aviva says you can save as much as £170 on their comprehensive insurance policy by using their Drive app. You also get a dashcam to use, which can record any incidents – making it easier and less expensive to sort out car insurance claims. Read our Aviva car insurance review here for more information.
Although you can make significant savings with Black Box policies, you need to be aware of the restrictions it can place on your driving.
Before you make a decision, it’s always worth shopping around to see what else is on offer. To do that, you have a few options.
Car insurance comparison sites
There are many comparison sites that enable you to compare quotes from multiple car insurance companies at the same time.
This can massively speed up the process but remember that they don’t exist solely to make it easier for you to find a policy. Comparison sites make money from referring you to certain insurance companies, and that commission is often passed on to you – the consumer.
That being said, you should always run a quick check through comparison sites to see if there are any car insurance quotes for new drivers at a suitable price for you.
To help you out, we have spent some time reviewing the best car insurance comparison sites to use – rating them on criteria such as how many insurers they get quotes from, how long it takes to get the quotes and which has the best prices.
Car insurance companies NOT on comparison sites
This is an important area often overlooked by people when they are shopping around for the best car insurance deal.
Not all insurance companies are listed on comparison sites, as they choose not to pay the commissions and like to deal directly with their customers.
Due to this, they often offer better deals – whether that’s with cheaper premiums or extra levels of cover.
See the best car insurance companies not on comparison sites and don't forget about them when you are shopping around for new driver car insurance.
Car insurance cashback deals
Another often overlooked strategy when searching for car insurance deals is using cashback websites to buy your policy.
This is a quick and easy way to earn money back from buying a car insurance policy you were going to buy anyway, and can net you as much as £60 cashback – that's plenty to fill your new car up at the petrol station!
Take a look at the best cashback car insurance deals here.
Cheap car insurance for new drivers
If you are a new driver looking for a cheap car insurance policy to suit you, there are a lot of great deals out there – it’s simply a case of shopping around and comparing prices and policies. Whether you’re looking for insurance for new drivers under 21, under 25, over 25 or over 30, you’re sure to find something to suit!
To get a quote for new driver car insurance in the UK, tap the green button below.