Ask LH: Can I Avoid Getting Rorted For Insurance As A Learner Driver?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m a 24 year old learner driver, who recently purchased her own car. Finally! I migrated to Australia several years ago, but since I was without family and lived in student accommodation, I had a hard time finding supervising drivers. Fast forward four years and I am still learning to drive, but at least I have my own car and a whole bunch of friends that are able to supervise me.

However, when I wanted to insure my shiny new toy with comprehensive car insurance, I learnt that no insurer was willing to offer me anything and now I have to rely on my partner to drive with me, as the insurance is in his name. This seriously limits my usage of the car, which is disappointing! What’s the deal with insuring learner drivers that have their own car? And what happens when I finally get my license? Will I really have to pay thousands of dollars for comprehensive insurance? Help me out in this jungle of confusion.

Eager To Drive!

Dear Eager,

Congratulations on getting this far — as regular readers will know, I don’t drive, so I’m always admiring of anyone who gets around to learning, especially without the support of family. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much good news to deliver on the insurance front.

The situation of a learner driver actually owning their own car is a relatively unusual one, and the reality is that insurers don’t like unusual events — they like predictability and they work with averages. As such, your non-average situation isn’t easily resolved.

Many insurers waive extra charges for learner drivers in someone else’s car, figuring that nervous parents will ensure that their offspring won’t do anything too extreme while driving. However, it’s a different story once those drivers graduate to their P-plates — they need to be a named driver in their own car or others, and they normally attract a hefty premium for doing so.

Indeed, anyone under 25 ends up paying more for insurance, simply because, statistically, they represent the biggest risk. So even if you’d qualified as a driver at the first possible opportunity, you’d be facing an unpleasantly large bill for a couple of years yet. As an over-25 learner, you might not cop the youth penalty, but you’d be such a comparative rarity that many insurers still wouldn’t have anything to offer. It sucks, but there don’t seem to be a lot of obvious alternatives.

That said, if any readers can recommend an insurer with a friendly policy towards learner owners (and under 25 drivers in general), we’d love to hear about it in the comments.


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