Delays to driving tests around the country because of Covid-19, will mean thousands of provisional licensed drivers will be forced to renew insurance policies for up to €600 more than a fully licensed driver.
That’s according to motor insurance experts Coverinaclick.ie who say that figures from the RSA suggest that 33,000 drivers would have passed their test between the months of March and July, but as a result of Covid-19 test centre closures, they were unable to do so.
Explaining the scenario that is leading thousands of motorists looking at another year of high premiums, Deirdre McCarthy of Coverinaclick.ie has advised these motorists to make informed decisions before renewing.
“Before COVID about 16,000 or 17,000 drivers were tested every month, and, on average, 8,383 people passed each month. The service had to be suspended on March 13th and was only able to resume earlier this week, on July 20th. Drivers who pass their test are typically rewarded with premium reductions of between €300 and €600 at their next renewal, because they are able to get competitive quotes from several more insurers,” she explained.
“Unfortunately, for the 33,000 drivers who would likely have passed their test between March and July, they will not see these reductions if their insurance renewal date arrives before their test date.
“Most insurers will give a pro-rata refund if a person passes their test mid-term. But many drivers are simply unaware of this, so we are advising them to check the insurers refund policy in this regard before renewing and to subsequently flag it with their insurer as soon as they have passed their test.”
RSA figures show that 36,000 drivers are currently awaiting a test, but Coverinaclick.ie say they are concerned that these waiting lists will dramatically expand, as centres deal with the Covid backlog, while possibly working at a more cautious pace to ensure compliance with Covid safety requirements.
“We are appealing to young drivers to be conscious that there will be significantly longer wait times, and that test centres will be prioritising the appointments of drivers whose test was suspended or cancelled during lockdown,” Ms. McCarthy commented.
“In short, it will take longer than many may have thought for their test appointment to come through. This is no reason for provisional drivers to rest on their laurels however - in fact, it’s even more of an incentive to get their application in as soon as possible.”
Top tips for young and/or new drivers to ensure they get the best value motor insurance premium:
1. Moving from a provisional to a full licence has definite cost-cutting benefits, and drivers can save up to 30% on their premiums simply by achieving their full licence.
2. Get lessons - discounts will be offered by certain insurers for drivers who have completed 10 lessons from a qualified driver instructor
3. If possible, plan ahead - try get experience by being added to a parent’s policy for a period to help get the driving test. While traditionally most insurers will insist on a full year, some providers offer discounts to young drivers who have 6 months’ experience on their parent’s policy
4. Look at the model and engine size of the car you are going to buy. Don’t be afraid to ask for different quotes for various cars.
5. Check the differences between third party fire and theft and comprehensive, according to the value of the vehicle.
6. If you want to teach your teenager to drive, cost out the various alternatives – adding them to your or your spouse’s cover or arranging separate cover for them – don’t assume that one will be cheaper than the other
7. Remember that some insurance companies specialising in insuring young drivers are only available through a broker