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Garrett Walsh

Senior insurance professional with over 20 year’s experience in claims management.

Updated: | 5 minute read

If you’ve been dealing with Irish car insurance policies for a while now, you’ve probably come across the term ‘named driver’ or ‘named driver experience’ before. However, unless you’ve ever needed to add it to your policy, it’s probably one of those abstract expressions you’ve heard many times but never fully understood. 

Named drivers are often learner drivers, but not always, and while the system is straightforward, there are a few important points to remember. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a brief, jargon-free guide to named drivers in Ireland with everything you need to know before adding it to your policy. 

1. Understanding Named Drivers and Learner Permits

What is a Named Driver?

A named driver is simply somebody who can drive a vehicle insured on another person’s main policy. This is something that parents sometimes do for their children when they are learning to drive and don’t have a vehicle for themselves, but actually, almost anybody can be a named driver on another policy. 

Learner Permit in Ireland

Anybody over 17 can obtain a learner permit to drive a car, which is the precursor to getting a full licence after you pass your test. You can apply for a learner permit online.

2. Legal Requirements for Named Learner Drivers

There are a few limitations on who can and cannot be a named driver. You must hold a full or provisional driver's licence, be over the age of 17, and not be the primary driver of the vehicle. This simply means that somebody else uses the car more than the named driver.  

Accompaniment by a Qualified Driver

While driving as a named learner driver, you must always be accompanied by a qualified driver over 18, who has held their licence for two consecutive years.  This makes you the legal responsibility of whoever is sitting beside you, so watch your speed and drive carefully. 

Displaying “L” Plates

It is a requirement for learner drivers to display L plates. These plates should be placed on both the front and back of the vehicle and should not be less than 15 cm high with a border of at least 2 cm.

Vehicle Insurance for Named Learner Drivers

Learning to drive is a tricky time. You might not be old enough or qualified enough to own and insure your vehicle, so instead, you need to rely on driving lessons, which are vital but also expensive, or the kindness of others who might let you practise in their car.

Many parents allow their children to practise those driving skills in a family car, but to do so legally, the child needs to be insured, which is where being a named driver comes in.

Motorway Restrictions

As a named learner driver, you are not permitted to drive on motorways, but you can travel on any other type of road. 

Driving Test

If you pass your test while a named learner driver, you are then permitted to drive unaccompanied using the same car. However, legally you need to wait until your new licence arrives. You can apply for your full licence online if you have a Public Services Card (PSC), or in person at a National Driving Licence Service (NDLS) centre.

3. Penalties and Consequences for Breaking the Rules

Penalties for Unaccompanied Driving

Driving unaccompanied is a criminal offence, and if you are caught, you will be fined an initial €160 and two penalty points, which will spiral upwards if you don’t pay quickly. This will also land the vehicle’s owner in hot water, and they can expect a fine of up to €,1000, and the vehicle itself could be seized.  

Implications for Insurance

Another negative knock-on effect is that you could even be refused insurance by a provider or, at the very least, expect significantly higher premiums than you would have without the offence on your record.  

4. Statistics on Unaccompanied Learner Drivers in Ireland

Road Safety Implications

According to the Road Safety Authority, 74% of fatal crashes involving learner drivers over four years involved those drivers operating a vehicle without legal supervision. 

While recent yearly statistics are yet to be released, figures over the last decade make for painful reading. Between 2014 and 2017, unaccompanied learner drivers were involved in 35 fatal traffic collisions, with a total of 150 involved in serious accidents.   

5. Tips for Named Learner Drivers

One of the significant benefits of safe driving over several years is that you can build a no-claims bonus, which acts as proof of your assured driving and can eventually begin to lower your insurance costs. 

A named driver experience works in basically the same way. It allows young drivers, or those without a main policy, to accumulate safe experience points measured in months and years. 

This is an excellent way of adding some much-needed real-world driving experience and building up a base level of information they can present to insurance companies when taking out their policies as proof of their safety and trustworthiness. 

So, if a young driver has a year or two’s worth of named driver experience with no accidents, they can present that to an insurance company as they start their own policy and will be in line for a discount - which will surely be music to every young person’s ears.

To be eligible for a named driver experience, it will need to be:

•    Consecutive (i.e., no gaps in cover)
•    Earned within the last three months
•    Earned within Ireland or the UK
•    Earned on a private car 

6. Conclusion

Becoming a named driver on any person’s policy comes with numerous benefits. It gives young, inexperienced drivers some much-needed driving experience that could prove crucial when they get their own licence. It also allows them to build up their named driver experience, which can deliver a sizable saving when taking out their own policy.

With, adding young driver insurance to your policy is quick and easy. You’ll just need to provide some basic information about the proposed named driver and send us a copy of the licence, and we can get the ball rolling from there. If you still have any questions about named drivers and how it all works, call us on 01 518 1404, and we’ll be more than happy to talk you through everything. 

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