Young drivers are being priced off the road

A worrying 93 per cent of young drivers feel 'unreasonable' insurance costs are pricing them off the road.

In a survey of 3,500 youngsters by learner driver insurance specialists Provisional Marmalade, nine out of 10 said they felt cover costs were 'unrealistic'.
"This is a very concerning trend as it will have a damaging effect on the economic mobility of this age group," explained Nigel Lacy of Provisional Marmalade.

"Young people cannot afford to leave the parental home, tuition fees are scaring many away from further education and now we have restricted mobility through exceptionally high motoring costs."

One young driver, Joshua Deacon, 17, said he knows people who have broken the law and asked their parents to 'front' their insurance – saying they are the main driver and that the teenager will only use the car occasionally.

"I was aware that I could expect to pay more than average because young drivers are higher risk, but when you are talking thousands of pounds, that kind of money deters people from starting to drive in the first place, and that's not fair," he said.

Motoring groups told Autoblog that we are in a catch 22 situation. Insurers know under 24-year-olds are the most likely to be involved in an accident so put the prices up, but that just means more youngsters decide to run the risk of driving without cover.

"There is a real dilemma when it comes to insurance for young people," said Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. "Insurers know young drivers are more likely to make expensive claims. However, if premiums make insurance totally unaffordable, there is a real risk they will decide to drive uninsured. The situation is unfair."

Clinton suggests that pay as you go insurance policies for youngsters could be the way forward where satellite tracking monitors the drivers' behaviour. Depending on when and where they drive, premiums are adjusted to suit.

A spokeswoman for the RAC Foundation said "innovative thinking" was needed. She added: "The shocking fact is that between 15 and 24 a person is four times more likely to die on the roads than from drug or alcohol abuse. The insurance industry responds to this with high premiums, but this is counter productive if young people are priced off the road, or are tempted to flout the law.

"Innovative thinking is required to enable novice and newly-qualified drivers to stay legal and safe. Pay as you go insurance and increased parental supervision in the early months after passing the test are just two options."

Clare Armstrong, of pressure group Safe Speed, says the current insurance system for young drivers is inherently broken. She said: "When insurance companies perceive the accident risk as being so great, and so the cost of insurance so high, that many cannot even contemplate affording insurance or feel forced to look for loop holes, it tells us that the system is seriously flawed.

"Inexperienced and young drivers need to put into practice all that accumulated knowledge taken to pass the test, as soon as they can, so that they can become confident, careful and safe motorists. People learn from their mistakes and they need to be able to learn."

Additional training is the answer, according to the Association of British Drivers' Brian Macdowall. "It's about time government, insurance companies and drivers' groups sat around the table to hammer out training schemes rewarding initiative and talent funded by insurance companies, government and the public," he said.

"An enlightened approach that drives costs down by rewarding positive attitudes and behaviour is needed. The status quo has failed miserably – let's get it changed.'

Were you priced out of the market when you first went to buy car insurance? Or have you fronted your child so they can get behind the wheel for the first time? Let us know your experiences by posting your comments below.
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