couple of basic details such as the learner driver’s postcode, age and perhaps the car registration number. Others ask for lots of information before they will give you a quote.
This type of short-term insurance “doesn’t fit into their model” because it’s not an annual policy, says Crispin Moger, chief executive of Marmalade, which claims to be the biggest in the market specialising in young drivers. It started offering learner cover in 2009. He says Marmalade is not on any price comparison sites when it comes to learner insurance, and that he is not aware of any other big providers that are either.
Another major player in this sector is Admiral. Several other household names are involved too, but some of them introduce customers to other firms. For example, the AA introduces people to Collingwood Insurance Services, while Aviva’s cover is administered by a temporary insurance specialist called Dayinsure. Other firms in this market include the RAC, Acorn Insurance, InsureLearnerDriver and Covered on Demand.
If your offspring has just started driving lessons, or will shortly, it is worth being aware that they can only book their driving test when they have passed their theory test.
Someone can take the theory test from their 17th birthday onwards. It is worth knowing this because, as a parent, until you have a date for your child’s test, you may feel it is difficult to know how much learner insurance to buy – ie, for how many weeks or months – bearing in mind that you don’t want to get too little and then find it has run out before the test, or waste money on purchasing too much.
However, many of the policies are flexible. For example, Marmalade offers cover for 30, 60 or 90 days, but once that ends, the policyholder can renew for a further seven or 14 days.
Aviva offers cover lasting from one day to five months, while Admiral’s ranges from two hours to 90 days.
Meanwhile, Covered on Demand reckons its policies could work out cheaper than some rivals, because you don’t pay for the days you are not driving.
The crucial thing with this type of insurance is that the learner must be accompanied at all times by a fully licensed driver. Each firm will have its own requirements: with Admiral, for example, this person has to be at least 21, while with Marmalade they have to be over 25.
Also, many companies will impose a curfew – typically, this means the learner isn’t insured between 10pm and 6am. And many will have a maximum value on the vehicle that can be used – often £30,000, but sometimes lower. There is also usually an excess on the policy – £250 is typical.
Meanwhile, it is vital to know that this type of cover ceases the moment the learner passes their test. That means they might need someone to drive them home.
So what happened in our price test? We sought quotes from several companies for a 17-year-old living in Walthamstow, north-east London, who intends to drive her parents’ car, a three-year-old Nissan Note.
For a month’s cover, looking purely at price, Admiral appeared to work out the cheapest, with a quote of £71.32. Two months was £115.94 and three months was £151.60. Marmalade’s site was particularly easy to use, and it quoted £85.88 for 30 days, £151.14 for 60 days and £205.01 for 90 days.
Aviva quoted £126.98 for one month, £211 for two months and £280.70 for three.
With Covered on Demand, we opted for 28 insured “driving days”, which our 17-year-old would then have 90 days to use. The premium for this was £79.52.
However, there were many more companies that we could have tried and a variety of options in terms of how long you can buy cover for, so the best thing is to sit down and give several of the websites a spin, or call up a few of the specialist firms.