A simples guide

When taking out insurance, should the total number of licence years include time with the provisional licence?

Learning to drive is probably one of the most important things you’ll ever do, it’s a means to independence, freedom and a way of avoiding those awkward ‘car chats’ with your parents. Before you even get into a car you’ll need to sort out your provisional licence but what happens after you pass your test – what happens to it then, and how does the whole insurance thing work? We’ve put this together because we know you’ve been thinking about it, so to put your mind at rest – here’s what you should know.

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Provisional licence vs full licence

You’ll need a provisional licence if you want to learn how to drive or ride a motorbike or moped. You can apply for one when you’re 15 years and 9 months old (to be exact) so make a note in your diary.

When you’re 16 you can start driving a moped or quadbike and at 17 you can start learning to drive a motorbike or car. Applying online at Gov.UK, provisional driving licence is the quickest and cheapest way of getting a provisional licence (it’ll take about a week compared to three if you do it at the Post Office).

When you pass your theory and practical driving test you’ll be able to exchange your provisional licence for a full driving licence. If you have a photocard provisional licence and your details haven’t changed then your examiner will usually take it from you and send it off to the DVLA – you’ll get your shiny new full licence in about three weeks.

If any of the details on your provisional licence have changed (like your name) or if you’ve got an old school paper one, then you’ll have to apply by post. You’ll also need to provide documents to prove you are who you say you are as well as a photo – you can find out exactly what you need at Gov.UK, apply for your full driving licence.

What about car insurance – how does this work when I’m learning to drive?

Driving schools will usually have their own insurance in place so when you’re having lessons you probably don’t need to worry about it. However, as well the average 47 hours it takes in formal driving lessons to pass your test, it’s estimated you’ll need around 22 hours of practise with friends or relatives.

You can practise with someone who’s held a full licence for three years, is over 21 and is qualified to drive the car you’re learning in (so they must be qualified to drive a manual car if that’s what you’re practising in). If you do take this opportunity, then you will need learner driver insurance.

Learner driver L plates

What is learner driver insurance?

It’s pretty much what it sounds like, these policies are tailored to meet the needs of learner drivers and just like Cinderella’s ride turning into a pumpkin, your learner driver insurance will terminate as soon as you pass your practical driving test (in most cases).

Having specific learner driver cover means that you may not affect anyone else’s no claims discount if you have an accident whilst using their vehicle. You’ll need to read the details of whatever policy is in place but things you might want to check and consider are:

• Flexibility – some providers will let you take out insurance by month so you don’t pay for more than you need.

• Supervision criteria – you may be restricted over who can help you practice; the government may say 21 but some insurance providers say 25.

• Refunds – check if you can get a refund on any remaining months if you pass your test before the policy runs out.

• Time restrictions – you can get time sensitive policies where you can only drive between certain times (for example 6am to 10pm) this might mean you pay less for your cover.

the front of a car

So, with insurance, do I include the time on my provisional licence as well?

In short – no. When you apply for car insurance you’ll be asked about the type of licence you hold and you’ll be able to specify how many years you’ve had it. Sadly, this means you won’t be able to include the time you’ve had your provisional licence for.

How do I sort out car insurance once I’ve passed my test?

This is the really easy bit, you’re already on one of the UK’s largest comparison sites and we’ve got more than a hundred insurance providers just a few clicks away. So tell us a little bit about you and your car and we’ll take it from there; oh, and congratulations by the way, welcome to life on the open road.

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