Making cents: Going the extra mile for learner driver insurance

Consumer advice with Gráinne McGuinness.

Making cents: Going the extra mile for learner driver insurance

The rising cost of car insurance has been a contentious issue in Ireland for some time now, with motorists outraged to face double-digit percentage increases at insurance renewal time. Established drivers are right to be angered by it but spare a thought for young people just learning to drive.

Even if young adults just want to get themselves up and running with lessons and a licence, the costs will easily top €500. The first step is the Driver Theory Test, which costs €45. Entrants need to get 35 out of 40 right to pass and most will spend at least €20 more for an instruction manual or online resource.

Learners can learn more and take a mock test at www.ism.ie. The next step once the theory test is passed is to get a learners permit. This will cost €35 plus the cost of an eye test.

Since 2011, all new learners are required to complete Essential Driver Training (EDT) — a mandatory training course that teaches fundamental driving skills to learner car drivers. EDT is a course of 12 one-hour lessons, whose content has been set by the RSA. The intention is to ensure all new drivers are taught certain critical driving skills.

Learners will have to complete their EDT with an approved driving instructor (ADI) — you can get a list of these at www.rsa.ie, searchable by county. The price for the block of lessons is not fixed. Depending on special offers and the area of the country I checked, the cost of blocks of 12 EDT lessons varied from €317 to more than €500.

Insurers have a number of options available to tempt young drivers with a package of lessons and insurance.

Aviva have a number of offers for young drivers whose parents/guardian have Aviva insurance policies. For €499, they offer learners their Educate package, which comes with 13 lessons and six months accompanied driving.

Instructors will be from an Aviva Driving School — and all are approved by the RSA and able to deliver EDT lessons. The policyholder must activate the accompanied driver cover within seven days of completion of the first lesson and, where availing of the free cover, all driving lessons must be taken within the the six month accompanied driver cover period.

They have a second version of the offer for €199 — called Achieve. This will get the young driver six lessons and three months accompanied driving. In both these cases be aware before purchasing of the need for the parent/guardian to have existing an Aviva policy.

Axa also have an offer for learners in need of lessons. Book 12 lessons with them for €369 and get up to €400 off your insurance with Axa.

When you are ready, you will have to pay €85 to sit the driving test. Pass and it costs €55 for a standard ten-year licence.

Teenagers and young adults under-25 are in some cases being quoted eye-watering amounts to get motor insurance. I looked for quotes online based on an 18-year-old with a learner permit looking for insurance on a nine-year-old Volkswagen Polo. Some insurers would not even offer a quote online, while one quoted €5,180 for third party, fire and theft cover — more than the given value of the car.

Quotes like this are off putting, but there are some ways to work with insurers to reduce your premiums, one of which is to prove to them than you are a safe driver.

Telematics in car insurance involved using technology to transmit data about the motorist’s driving style back to the insurer. AIG offer BoxyMo Telematics insurance for young drivers under 26, which relies on a box inserted into your car. The device will give you feedback each month on how to become a better driver and reduce your insurance premium.

Aviva also promises reductions for safer drivers but in their case it is based on an additional driving assessment. If you are a learner or hold a full driving licence for less than three years, you can undergo their one-hour Ignition assessment. You will drive in a variety of road and traffic conditions and, depending on your results, may then be eligible for better-value cover.

Deal of the week

If you are a parent in the market for some Easter-related activities this weekend, you should consider a visit to your nearest Smyths Toys Superstore on Saturday April 15. There will be a free Easter egg hunt taking place in every store between 9am and 2pm.

Each child will be provided with a clue sheet that they must fill in to complete the hunt. Once they have completed their clue sheet they can collect their Easter egg, avoiding any meltdowns over one child getting too many.

It is one egg per participating child, while stocks last.

If you have Smurf fans in the house, there is a second reason to visit the Jervis St. branch of Smyths on Saturday. To celebrate the opening of Smurfs: The Lost Village, Smurfs characters will be in action in-store and available for any young fans who want to get their picture taken with them.

We take no responsibility for any pestering that may occur as a result of these visits.

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