January 16th, 2020 at 2:22 pm
Gone are the days when an old banger – the starting point for many a 20th-century teenager – could wriggle its way through the MOT and come out the other side with a pass certificate, cheap and cheerful motoring for the newly passed young person and probably not very safe. So how do you select an appropriate vehicle for a new teenage driver? Safety and choice of vehicle is usually the biggest concern followed a close second by eye-watering insurance premiums.
New car versus used
The benefit of a new vehicle is the specification, you are going to access the latest safety technology compared to a car that is already several years down the line. The other problem with a high mileage older vehicle is that unless you know the car, i.e. it has belonged to a family member or friend then you really don’t know how well it has been maintained and looked after.
Buying a new small car on finance is an option and has the added benefit of fixed motoring costs. An older car might seem cheaper at the outset in comparison but you could be faced with expensive garage bills at any time. Do watch out though for deals which offer free insurance, ideal you might think for a new teenage driver but this usually bumps up the monthly instalment payments quite considerably and a new driver may not be eligible anyway.
When you are looking at individual vehicles, safety will be probably your top priority. In order to compare different manufacturers, you need to look at the car’s NCAP rating – the higher the rating, the safer the car. Euro NCAP is an independent organisation who assess each vehicle completely impartially.
It’s going to be high and there is no easy way around that other than by buying a small car rather than something large and powerful which is hardly going to be the first choice vehicle for a keen teenager anyway.
According to the website, confused.com, car insurance for young drivers has actually gone down from its level a year ago but the difference is only marginal and most people will be looking at around £1,500 to £2,000 for a first year’s fully comprehensive motor cover. Premiums are based on industry-wide statistics and averages and it is no great secret that young people have far more accidents than older drivers because they simply lack experience. All you can hope to do is try and lower the premium as much as possible but you are certainly looking at a minimum figure of at least £1,000.
Keeping a vehicle purchase within a lower insurance group will help – bigger, more powerful cars are more likely to have accidents. The other clever device which can help mitigate sky-high insurance premiums is fitting a black box. This is not offered by all motor insurers but it is certainly likely to reduce your premiums if you drive safely.
What is a black box?
A black box or telematics as they are sometimes known as, is fitted to a vehicle and can monitor how that vehicle is driven. Good, safe driving is rewarded with lower premiums. There are several companies who offer this type of insurance which is aimed at the younger motorist, also known as ‘plug and drive’ insurance.
How does it work?
In simple terms, the driver’s performance is monitored but there are other restrictions. The technology is based around GPS and G-force sensors to evaluate the driver’s speed and the sharpness of braking and acceleration. Also on file are the times of the day the car is driven and the journey time. The data is automatically sent back to the insurer who calculates a points score based on this. The concept is that the insurer can base an individual driver’s premium on their actual driving behaviour rather than generic data compiled from across thousands of other drivers in the same age bracket. Some insurers provide an app or online dashboard where the driver can review their performance and there are even handy hints about improvement.
How does this affect the premium?
The fact that the black box is present at the inception of the insurance is enough for some companies to lower the premium. Others will offer more discounts for good driving behaviour and also reward a driver by adding extra miles if the policy has a mileage restriction on it.
Are there any drawbacks of having a black box?
If the young driver is not behaving themselves then the premium could actually increase if they are not using the road safely and responsibly. Many policies have a mileage limit on them and some young drivers just don’t like the fact their driving behaviour is constantly being monitored.
When these policies first came out, there was a curfew on night driving which is statistically when most accidents occur. Most policies no longer feature an actual curfew but drivers could find their point score lowering if they drive at night so effectively there is still a nighttime penalty. All of the black box insurance policies vary so it is important to pay close attention to the detail to really work out whether it is a suitable choice or not.
Choosing a car
Autoexpress has evaluated the Top Ten Best First Cars for New Drivers in 2019 and come up with this list of vehicles:-
- Volkswagen Up?/ Skoda Citigo/ Seat Mii
- Kia Picanto
- Ford Fiesta
- Seat Ibiza
- Hyundai i10
- Volkswagen Polo
- Toyota Aygo/Peugeot 108/ Citroen C1
- Skoda Fabia
- Dacia Sandero
- Vauxhall Corsa
Staying out of trouble on the road will build driver confidence and lower insurance premiums. Legislation hits home hard on incidents and accidents within the first two years of motoring life after passing the driving test, hefty points allocations can even result in the loss of a licence. However, even after the first year trouble-free, insurance premiums will begin to lower as a ‘no claims history’ starts to build.