Learner insurance: how it works

Professional driving tuition is expensive, and it's this cost which can easily limit the amount of time you get behind the wheel.

However, if you're able to practise independently, you should be able to save cash, plus you'll build experience and confidence that much faster. The problem here though is getting insurance on the car in which you want to practise. Your parents could well have suitable cars, but affordable cover may be elusive - which is where learner insurance comes in. 

This allows you to practise in somebody's car, and instead of you having to be covered by their insurance, you're covered by your own. You're comprehensively insured too, which means that if you prang a parent's car, they won't have to claim on their policy.

There are lots of these schemes available, with prices typically starting at around £80 per month. Generally you can learn in pretty much any type of car, if it's under supervision, and with the owner's permission.

Policies generally range from an initial month to a whole year, but once you've paid for that initial period, you can normally top up a week at a time. Crucially, as soon as you've passed your test you'll need to arrange a normal insurance policy or you'll be driving uninsured.

As with any insurance cover, you have to ensure you're not breaking any terms and conditions; insurance companies don't like young drivers piloting expensive and powerful cars for example, so make some checks.

Typically, there's an insurance group limit (such as 30), while a car's value may be another obstacle. It's not just the car that can cause problems though; whoever supervises you is probably going to have to be at least 25 years old, and should have had a licence for at least three years.

There may be other restrictions too, such as driving at night, and any car you learn in must already be covered on a conventional annual policy. Also, the chances are you'll have to buy a separate policy for each car, if you practise in more than one.

One final point: learner insurance tends to be a lot cheaper than post-test (regular) car insurance, because when you're learning you're always being supervised. It's once you've passed your test and you can drive solo that you're more likely to crash, so enjoy the relatively cheap learner insurance while you can!