You’ll need the right insurance every time you get behind the wheel of a car, including on the day of your practical driving test. Lots of learners sit their test in their instructor’s car on their driving instructor’s insurance, but if you’re planning to use your own car, it’s important to make sure you have driving test insurance in place before you arrive at the test centre.
If you’ve practised your driving skills, manoeuvres, and “show me, tell me” questions outside of your official lessons, you probably have learner driver insurance in place. But although some provisional driver policies cover you on the day of your test, others might not.
Here, we ask, “What insurance do you need for your driving test?” and explain how to find out what’s included in your learner driver cover. We’ll also look at some other things to consider if you’re planning to drive your own car on your test day, and what to do about your car insurance when you pass your test.
Do you need special driving test insurance?
Although you must be insured to take your driving test, there’s no such thing as official insurance for a driving test.
People sitting their driving test will usually be covered in one of two ways:
- Driving tests will be included in the instructor insurance policy their driving school uses
- Their own car insurance (either for their car or as a named driver on, for example, their parent’s insurance) will cover them while they sit the test with the examiner in the passenger seat
From an insurance point of view, it’s often simpler to sit your test in your instructor’s car. You already know it fulfils all the test centre’s requirements for test vehicles (more on these later), and you know your insurance will cover you if something goes wrong and you damage the instructor’s vehicle or someone else’s property.
On the other hand, learners who want to practise in their own car (or their parent’s or friend’s car) need insurance for provisional licence holders. These policies often include clauses that, for example, protect the owner’s no claims bonus if the learner has an accident while driving.
But while these policies are generally perfect for learners and the people accompanying them, not all learner insurance includes insurance for your driving test.
How to find out if your learner driver policy covers your practical test
If you don’t know whether your car insurance will cover you during your driving test, the easiest way to find out is by reading the small print of your insurance policy documents. You can also contact your insurance company and ask directly — just like you would if you wanted to find out your car insurance expiry date.
Likewise, if you’re asking, “Does my insurance cover a learner driver?” your first ports of call are your insurance certificate and your insurer’s customer support team.
It’s a good idea to organise car insurance for your driving test quite far in advance of your test day (and, if possible, to consider whether the insurance will cover the test when you’re initially comparing plans). Although the problem is relatively easy to fix, nobody wants to add extra stress to their lives in the final days before their driving test.
What to do if your learner driver insurance doesn’t cover your test
If you’re planning to sit your driving test in your own car, and you find out that your insurance won’t cover the test, you need to get additional insurance.
Remember, if you have an accident, cause an injury, or damage the car or any other property during your test and you aren’t covered, you’ll have to cover the cost of repairs, medical treatment, or compensation out of your own pocket. You’ll also face a large fine for driving without car insurance.
Because of the severity of the consequences, the test centre should ask for proof that your vehicle has valid insurance before the test begins. They will turn you away if it’s not.
Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to get insurance to cover your driving test.
You might be able to contact your car insurer and bolt on some driving test cover to your existing policy. If this isn’t possible, you could also get temporary provisional driver insurance with another company that includes driving tests in their policy. You can often pay for instant cover or arrange a policy that only lasts for the 12 hours when you sit your test.
Should you sit your driving test in your own car?
Although it can be a bit more complicated when it comes to car insurance, plenty of people decide that using their own car for their driving test is the easiest option. There are several good reasons to do this:
- You might not have access to your instructor’s car, either because you haven’t had formal lessons or because your instructor isn’t available on the day your test is booked.
- You might not want to pay the additional fee for using your instructor’s car, which is usually the equivalent of two or three lessons to cover the hour of the test and the journey there and back.
- You might have practised a lot in your car and you have a better sense of how big it is and where the bite point is, so you might feel more confident during manoeuvres like parallel parking.
It’s perfectly legal to use your car for your driving test in the UK. It doesn’t need to have dual controls for the examiner, and with some small checks and adjustments, most roadworthy cars with four wheels are suitable for a category B driving test. For example, it’s your responsibility to make sure:
- Your car is taxed, with a valid MOT, and insurance that covers your driving test
- Your dashboard is free of warning lights
- The passenger seat has an appropriate headrest for the examiner
- The examiner has an additional rearview mirror to use (you can buy these online)
- Your car has regulation L plates on the front and back
- Any devices that record video or audio inside the car are switched off
- Your car is smoke free
Some cars are automatically excluded from driving tests because they don’t give the examiner a full view of the surroundings from the passenger seat. This list includes a lot of small convertibles, such as the Ford KA convertible, the BMW Mini convertible, the VW Beetle convertible, the Toyota IQ, and the Smart Fortwo.
If you have questions about whether your vehicle is suitable for a driving test, contact the test centre where you’ve booked your appointment to confirm. If your car doesn’t meet the requirements, your test could be cancelled when you arrive.
Can I drive after passing my driving test on the same insurance?
You’ll be covered by learner driver insurance (either your own or your instructor’s) while you sit your test, but it’s important to know that, if you pass, your insurance will become invalid as soon as you pull back into the carpark at the end of your test. Once you’re a qualified driver, you’ll no longer have a provisional licence, so your provisional driver insurance will no longer cover you.
You have a few options if you pass your practical test and go home as a qualified driver.
- You can get your instructor to drive you home. Most instructors would insist on this even if there wasn’t an insurance issue, since they don’t want the adrenaline high of the good news to distract you on the road.
- You can get a friend or family member to pick you up and drive you home (or take you out to celebrate).
- You can drive yourself home in your own vehicle, as long as you arrange car insurance to give you instant cover before you leave the test centre.
Many insurance companies offer instant short-term cover that protects you during your drive home. You’ll then be able to shop around for the best deal for new driver insurance later.
Remember, if you fail your test, you’ll still be able to drive home on your provisional insurance, as long as the person in the passenger seat fulfils the normal conditions for supervising a learner driver.
Insurance for driving tests: A summary
Your journey to becoming an independent driver begins with the right insurance — from your first lesson, to your practice sessions, to the day you pass your test and beyond.
When it comes to your practical test, you might have the most peace of mind if you use your instructor’s car — at least from an insurance point of view. But if you’d rather use your own car for your driving test, and it’s eligible according to your test centre, you can get learner driver insurance that covers driving tests either as part of your long-term policy or as temporary car insurance.
Don’t forget, as soon as you pass your test, you’ll need a new policy to go with your new licence. Contact Howden Insurance for more information about car insurance for new and young drivers.