Car insurance for learner drivers

Looking for learner driver insurance? Here’s how to find the right cover.

So you or your child has passed the driver knowledge test and is now ready to get behind the wheel. You now need to learner-proof your car before they start driving. The first step is making sure they know the unspoken road rules (all other drivers are crazy). The second is making sure your car insurance is ready to cover them without costing too much.

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Name Product New Car Replacement Pay monthly at no extra cost Choice of repairer Roadside Assistance Hire car after theft Personal effects
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Yes - If your car is written off or stolen in the first 2 years
No
Yes
Yes
Yes - Reasonable costs (Max 14 days)
$750
Emergency roadside assistance included in Comprehensive policies.
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No
No
Optional
Yes - Up to $70 per day (Max 14 days)
$500
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Yes - If your car is written off in the first 2 years or is under 40,000 km
No
Yes
Optional
Yes - Up to $1,000 (Max 14 days)
$500
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No
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$1,000
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$500
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How does car insurance cover L-Platers?

If you want to insure an L-Plater you've got two choices: for them to get their own policy (which is required if they're the only one driving the car), or add them to your own policy (provided they're not the main driver).

To make things easier, many insurers will automatically cover learner drivers on their parents’ policies. However, you will typically need to pay an additional excess for claims made as a result of them being behind the wheel. This is why it's super important to compare excess figures against car insurance underwriters, as this is typically where you will feel the most pain if your learner does get into an accident.

Check your car insurance product disclosure statement (PDS) for the following:

  • Whether you need to list the learner driver on your policy to have them covered.
  • What additional excesses will apply for claims made while they’re driving and how it will differ depending on whether you list them on your policy.

If you do opt to switch, try planning ahead of time. You can switch mid-policy, but it’s usually preferable to do it at renewal time instead.

Is it better to get a learner their own policy or add them to an existing one?

In most cases it is better to add a learner driver to your policy than it is to take out a new one just for them. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It's easier. Many insurers will automatically cover learner drivers or let you add them with little fuss.
  • It's usually less expensive. Adding a learner driver to your policy does not usually result in an increased premium. You're only charged extra in the form of additional excesses when it's time to claim.
  • You’re in control. A learner driver cannot drive without a licensed driver supervising them, even in their own car. By having them on your policy rather than their own, you have a little more control over when they can drive.

But you can't add a learner driver to your policy if they're the main driver of the vehicle.

How do I add a learner driver to my policy?

Adding a learner driver to your policy couldn't be simpler. Some insurers will automatically cover learner drivers as long as there's a licenced driver in the passenger seat. :

  1. Add the driver to your policy. Phone your insurer or visit their online member portal and add the driver to your policy.
  2. State the driver's details. Your insurer will want to know important information about the driver including licence status and age.
  3. Accept any new excess. Instead of charging you an added premium to cover the learner driver, insurers will usually collect their fee on the back end by charging you an additional excess if you have to claim on this driver.
  4. Make sure they're supervised. You'll only be covered for the learner driver if another licensed driver is supervising from the front passenger seat.

How do excesses compare between companies?

If you have comprehensive insurance or another type of optional car insurance, whenever you make a claim you’ll usually need to pay a basic excess. This is the amount you’re required to contribute to the total cost of a claim, and you’re often able to adjust your excess when you take out cover.

However, in order to protect themselves against the additional risk associated with insuring a learner driver, insurers also impose a number of extra excesses. If you make a claim for an incident where a learner driver was behind the wheel of your car, you’ll need to pay one or more of those additional excesses on top of the basic excess.

These learner driver excesses vary between insurers and may include:

  • Basic excess. The standard excess will always apply, whether it’s you or your child driving.
  • Learner driver excess. Learner drivers often have their own excess applied.
  • Young driver excess. If they’re under 25, a young driver excess is applied on top of everything else.
  • Undeclared driver excess. If you’re keeping your premiums down by not listing the learner driver on your policy, an additional excess may apply.
  • Optional excess. If you’ve opted for an extra excess to lower your premiums, this will be added on as well.
  • Inexperienced driver excess. This generally applies to learner drivers over the age of 25.
  • Car excess. An additional excess may be applied based on the age of your car or its type.

Here's how excesses stack up against 4 underwriters

Underwriter Driver under age 21 Driver aged 21-24 Inexperienced driver Unlisted driver
Auto & General $600 $500 $500 $600
Insurance Australia Group $800 $450 $400 No excess
Suncorp $400 $400 $400 $1,400
Hollard Insurance $1,200 $800 $800 $2,000 (Under 21s)

$1,600 (Aged 21-24)

How to drive down the cost of cover

Want to lower your car insurance premiums? Remember a few simple tips:

  • Keep a clean record. If you can manage to establish a clean driving record – no speeding fines, traffic infringements or insurance claims – over a few years, your premiums will quickly be reduced.
  • Don’t get separate cover. If you’re a learner driver, it usually works out cheaper to get added to your mum or dad’s policy as an authorised driver than to take out separate cover.
  • Choose the right car. A safe, reliable sedan or hatch will be cheaper to insure than a high-powered sports car.
  • Security. Cars with immobilisers and sophisticated anti-theft systems can also enjoy lower premiums.
  • Garage your car. Vehicles kept overnight in a secure, locked garage cost less to insure than cars that are left parked on the street.
  • Choose a higher excess. By adjusting your excess higher when you buy a policy, you’ll receive a lower premium.
  • Drive less. If you’re not a frequent driver, you can save money on the cost of cover by choosing a low-kilometre or pay as you drive car insurance policy.
  • Look for deals and discounts. From online discounts to premium reductions for loyal customers, keep an eye out for any special offers to help you lower the cost of car insurance.
  • Shop around.Compare car insurance quotes from a range of companies to find the best value for money.

For more information on how to lower your premium, check out our in-depth guide to the cost of car insurance.

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What you should know before you go for your driving tests

L-plates

To get your Ls, you’ll need to complete a written (or computer-based) road rules knowledge test. You can find details of the information included in the test in the road rules handbook for your state or territory. This is available from the roads or transport department where you live, and you may even be able to complete a sample test online.

P-plates

Most Australian states and territories (with the exception of the Northern Territory and the ACT) enforce a two-stage provisional licence system. This means you’ll need to prepare for two tests:

  • A hazard perception test. This computer-based touchscreen test assesses your ability to recognise potentially dangerous situations when driving and respond accordingly. The test uses film clips of real traffic situations, and you’ll find information and practice modules to help you prepare for the test on your state roads and transport department’s website.
  • A driving test. This is a practical test of your on-road driving skills and is completed with a testing officer from the roads and transport department. Once again, your state roads and transport department’s website will contain all the information you need to know to prepare for the test.

Driving restrictions imposed on L and P-plate drivers can vary slightly depending on where you live, so make sure you’re fully aware of what you can and can’t do on the road before getting behind the wheel.

Did you know?

In order to supervise a learner driver, you must:

  • Hold a current full Australian driver’s licence
  • Have a good understanding of the road rules
  • Be a competent driver
  • Be able to effectively communicate with the learner driver
  • Have a blood alcohol content under 0.05
  • Not supervise while under the influence of drugs

Learners need to log 120 hours of supervised driving before they can go for their P1 licence. This driving time can be recorded in a paper log book or using a digital log book app.

Tips on teaching your learner to drive

Teaching a teenager how to drive can be a frustrating and frightening experience for any parent. But with at least 120 hours of driving supervision in front of you, it’s a good idea to be prepared for what lies ahead. Remember these simple tips to make the learning process as smooth as possible:

  • Safety first. Learning to drive is a stressful experience for everyone, so give your L-plater one less thing to worry about by making sure your car is in tip-top condition. If it’s due for a service, book it in straight away. Replace any old or worn tyres and make sure everything inside and out is in good working order.
  • Brush up on your road rules. Are you completely up to date with the requirements on indicating on roundabouts? How about turning right at traffic lights when there’s no green arrow? It’s pretty easy to pick up some bad habits over a lifetime of driving, so it might be worth giving yourself a little refresher to make sure you teach your learner to do things the right way.
  • Manual vs automatic. The transmission your learner drives will obviously be determined by the car you own. However, if you have an automatic and a manual at your disposal, remember that if your L-plater gets their P1 licence in an automatic, they can’t drive a manual until they graduate to a P2 licence (unless they have an unrestricted driver beside them in the passenger seat).
  • Find the right learning environment. Don’t throw a learner in at the deep end and take them straight onto rush hour city streets or a busy highway; find quiet streets in industrial estates or suburban areas, or even a deserted carpark where your learner can learn the basics without too much pressure. As their confidence and skills grow, you can gradually introduce them to more traffic and slightly more difficult driving situations.
  • Take it slowly. Learning to drive takes time, and despite their insistence otherwise it’s not uncommon for learners to feel completely overwhelmed. Start by teaching your learner how to adjust the cockpit to their liking and go from there, remembering to focus on basics like steering, braking and changing gears before you worry about anything too advanced.

Don't want the pressure? Try a driving school

Using a driving school allows you to learn from a professional driving instructor. By completing training with a driving school, you can acquire the skills and confidence you need to become a safe and competent driver.

Before choosing a driving school, make sure you’re aware of the following:

  • Accreditation. To become an accredited driver trainer or driving instructor in Australia, a person must obtain a Driving Instructors’ licence from their state or territory road agency. To get this licence they must:
  • Pass a road rules knowledge test
  • Pass a driving test
  • Have a satisfactory criminal record and pass a working with children check
  • Complete a Certificate IV course in Training and Logistics (Road Transport-Car Driving) through a Registered Training Organisation.
  • Cost. The cost of a driving lesson generally ranges anywhere from $50 to $75, but shop around to get an idea of the cost of lessons in your local area.
  • Insurance. Before booking a lesson, check with the driving school to find out whether it has appropriate insurance in place to provide cover if you’re involved in an accident while in the instructor’s car.
  • Free lesson. The Australian Government funds a national driver training program that provides a free driving lesson to novice drivers. Find out more about the Keys 2 Drive program on its official website.

Frequently asked questions about insuring L-Platers


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Andrew Munro

Andrew writes for finder.com, comparing products, writing guides and looking for new ways to help people make smart decisions. He's a fan of insurance, business news and cryptocurrency.

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