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Plates and car insurance

Plates and car insurance

One of the most satisfying things about passing your driving test is to finally get rid of those red ‘L’ plates.

But, as a newly qualified driver, some aspects of driving can still be a bit daunting. Displaying ‘P’ plates can help build your confidence, while letting other road users know you’re just starting out.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
3
minute read
posted 19 FEBRUARY 2020

What’s the difference between L and P plates?

The main difference is L plates are mandatory for all learner drivers in the UK, and P plates are an optional choice for newly qualified drivers.

In the UK, all learner drivers must display L plates on the front and back of the vehicle they’re learning to drive in.

L plates are compulsory for drivers with a provisional licence. The ‘L’ must be red on a white background and they’re legally required to be the right size and dimensions. Learner drivers in Wales can use red ‘D’ plates instead. The ‘D’ stands for ‘Dysgwr’, which means ‘learner’ in Welsh.

You could get up to six penalty points if you don’t display L plates, or if they’re the wrong size. L plates must be removed when the car isn’t being driven by a learner driver.

Once you’ve passed your test, you cannot display L plates. But you can use green ‘probationary’ P plates to show you’re a new driver. This is entirely your choice. They’re not a legal requirement – there’s no penalty for not displaying P plates – and you can leave them on for as long as you like.

What are ‘R’ plates?

‘Restricted’ driver ‘R’ plates are a legal requirement for new drivers in Northern Ireland.

Amber R plates must be clearly displayed on your car for one year from the date you passed your driving test.

Why should I use P plates?

Although it’s not compulsory, using green P plates can be a good idea for new qualified drivers.

The benefits of using P plates include:

  • letting other drivers know you’re still inexperienced
  • encouraging other motorists to be more patient with new drivers
  • helping you build your confidence as you adapt to driving on your own

Where to put P plates on a car

Just like L plates, P plates should be positioned on the front and back of your car, where they can clearly be seen. They mustn’t obstruct the driver’s visibility.

Will P plates affect the cost of my car insurance?

P plates won’t directly affect the cost of your car insurance. As a new driver you’ll still be considered a high risk, even if you display P plates.

This means you should expect to pay more for your car insurance than more experienced drivers.

However, P plates could help you build up more confidence behind the wheel.

As you become more experienced and develop good driving habits, you should be more likely to avoid incidents. Over time you can start to build up a no claims discount which will help reduce the cost of your car insurance later on.

How can I get cheaper car insurance as a P plate driver?

Even as a P plate driver, there are ways in which you could cut the cost of your car insurance:

  • Black box telematics insurance A small device or app records how you drive and sends the information to your insurance provider. If you drive well, you could get a discount on your car insurance.
  • Some insurance providers may offer cheaper car insurance to newly qualified drivers who take a Pass Plus advanced driving course.
  • Choose your first car wisely – a standard car with a smaller engine will be cheaper to insure than a larger, more powerful model.
  • Where you park overnight could affect your car insurance. Parking off the street on a driveway can reduce the risk of your car being damaged or stolen. This could mean paying less for your premium.

Compare cheap car insurance

Another way to find cheaper car insurance is to shop around and compare quotes.

At Compare the Market we independently compare a wide range of trusted car insurance providers, to help new drivers find a competitive deal.

Compare car insurance with us today and see if you can find a cheaper deal.

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