Has your child just got their L-plates? Find out where it is worth getting additional cover.
Congratulations, 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.
Did you know?
Quick hacks on getting cheap car insurance for learner drivers
Make sure you read the product disclosure statement closely and consider whether a policy is right for your needs.
- If you want cover, you'll have to add your little L-Plater onto your existing car insurance policy or opt for their own separate cover. Otherwise, say goodbye to that hard-earned cash of yours if your kid accidentally reverses into a parked car while learning how to parallel park.
- Learner drivers are expensive to insure. Car insurance costs more for young and inexperienced drivers, so make sure you compare your options. In many cases, it’s more affordable to list a learner as an additional driver on mum and dad’s existing car insurance policy than to take out separate cover.
- Signing up for a new policy online can get you enormous discounts of up to 20%. The catch is that these typically only last for a year. Fortunately, this is just long enough for your L-plater to learn how to drive and to stop being so expensive to insure.
L-Platers are accident prone. Make sure you've got the best protection.
Contents of this guide
How car insurance covers learner drivers
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.
- 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.
When your child gets behind the wheel, the excesses can quickly add up. If you’re not careful, these excesses might become unaffordable, preventing you from making claims. Listing the learner driver on your policy will generally help keep them down, at the cost of higher premiums.
Depending on your needs, reducing the excess and then offsetting the L-plater premium increases with discounts may be the way to go.
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.
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.
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.
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
Preparing your car for a learner driver
If you’re learning to drive or planning on teaching someone how to drive, there are several simple things you’ll need to do to prepare your car before a learner can get behind the wheel:
- Insurance. Okay, so we’ve already covered this in great detail above, but it bears repeating. Make sure your car insurance will cover you for any claims that arise while a learner is driving, and check the fine print to find out the excess (or excesses) you’ll need to pay.
- Road rules. If they’ve just passed their test, hopefully the learner driving your car is well versed in the rules of the road. However, it’s still a good idea to run through a few basic driving scenarios (using a roundabout, for example) before you pull out of the driveway and into traffic, as this can help everyone relax and get in the right frame of mind.
- L-plates. Whenever a learner driver is behind the wheel, you’ll need to display L-plates at the front and rear of your car. They’re readily available at many service stations and a wide range of retailers, and they’ll need to be positioned so that the “L” is clearly visible from 20 metres away front and rear. Failure to display the plates correctly can lead to a fine for the instructing driver and demerit points for the learner.
- Getting comfortable. You want to be able to focus 100% on the road ahead, so make sure to adjust the seating position before you start driving. Move the seat and back rest around so that it provides ample support and the pedals and steering wheel are within easy reach. Don’t forget to also adjust the side and rear view mirrors to suit the driver.
- Distractions. There’s a whole lot to get used to when driving a car for the first time, so do everything you can to minimise distractions. Turn the radio off and put mobile phones away so that your attention is completely on the task at hand. Remember, too, that it’s against the law for learner drivers to use a mobile phone (hand-held or hands-free) while driving.
- Controls. Any new driver will also need to familiarise themselves with the car’s controls before hitting the open road. Things like indicators, windscreen wipers, headlights and demisters are all important, while an explanation of the gear positions (whether in an automatic or manual) is also essential. The speedometer, fuel gauge, engine temperature and oil pressure gauge should all be explained as well.
How to prepare a learner driver for the road
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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