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Topic: Moving to join my wife next month, where do I start with vehicle insurance?  (Read 885 times)

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We're hoping to get a car rather soon, and get my UK license within a couple months after that.   Will I have any trouble getting insurance coverage while driving on a US license?


Any other advice in this area?


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We're hoping to get a car rather soon, and get my UK license within a couple months after that.   Will I have any trouble getting insurance coverage while driving on a US license?


Any other advice in this area?

  Seems like admiral have given people a good deal in the past, so I would call them directly for a quote after using https://www.moneysupermarket.com/ .  That will give you a pretty good idea of the best price.  Never accept a renewal offer at face value without checking the price comparisoon sites.


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You’ll need a car to get insurance.  Insurance will be expensive while on your US license and then will take about 5 years to get to “normal” for your age group. 

The less power the car has, the cheaper the insurance will be

So be aware that due to Covid, there were virtually no driving tests held for over a year. The backlogs are very real.

Well over 10 years ago, taking first slots available, it took 5 months to get my license and I passed all tests on the first try.  Get cracking with it straight away and hopefully you’ll have your license within that first year window.


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I think the timeline of getting a UK license within a few months of arrival is unlikely, but you will have a year to drive with your US license and hopefully can get a UK one within that timeframe.  I would advise to definitely get the process started as soon as you can, but don't plan on having a UK license for a while. 

Even during the "before times" test slots would fill up quickly.  In London, a waiting time to book a slot for the practical test was about 10-12 weeks.  And that's just the practical component.   

With driving tests being suspending during the pandemic, there is now a huge backlog of learner drivers and test slots are like gold.  At the end of April, the BBC reported that most test centres are already fully booked until August, and the estimated backlog of people waiting to take a test is 420,000.

So yeah - get the process started ASAP, but I wouldn't plan on having a UK license within a few months of arrival.

We (and my MIL) have Admiral insurance, and so far, we've not had any issues or negative feedback about them.  We've not needed to claim anything, but in regards to coverage and price value, we've found them pretty good.  As you still have a US license (and even for a few years after you get a UK one), the insurance will be higher as you'll be considered more risky, but having a US license isn't an outright barrier to getting insurance.   

Good luck - the UK driving tests are an experience (but so satisfying when you make it)!


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Thanks so much for the advice and the realistic timelines!  I'll keep that in mind and resign myself to paying higher rates for insurance for a while. 

I know everyone is different and car types etc, but do you have any idea how bad should I expect insurance to be on the US license?


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I had a powerful car but my first year of insurance back in 2010 was £1300 per year.

Lessons and tests were about £600 if my memory serves me right.


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When I started driving in the UK in 2016, Aviva was the only insurer that accepted my no claims bonus from my US insurer. As such, they had the best insurance prices too. Not sure if it's the same now, but check out Aviva. It took almost 10 months to get my UK license. I took my time though, and also had some issues with driving instructors- more on that below. I passed my tests on the first try and have an automatic license. Zero regrets with the auto license!

It's a good idea to practice driving with a driving instructor for at least a few lessons. For me, this wasn't smooth sailing. The first instructor was cocky and rude to me (no time for that), second guy was much better but was very unreliable (mixed up lesson dates, no showed for lessons), third guy was the winner. I think I had around 12 lessons total.
4/2015 Married
7/29/2015 Spousal visa received


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I also had a bad fit with my first driving instructor. He was a rather older man who seemed kind of patronizing.  And he treated me like a new driver (started with how to make the car go!), even though I made it clear from the beginning that I'd had close to twenty years experience driving in the US and only needed to be told what I needed to correct to pass the UK test.

My next instructor had provided lessons for another American and understood what I needed.  We did three 2-hour lessons, where she took me along all the known places in my area and taught me what I should look out for during my test, and she taught me the "right way" to do the manuevers, and helped me feel comfortable on the opposite side of the road driving from the opposite side of the car.  I also booked her/her car for my test, and all together it cost me about £130 for lessons, plus the various DVLA fees along the way.

I did my theory test before we moved, and in the old location, I had about a six week wait to get a test slot.  We moved to a rural area after that, so I had a pause in my UK license pursuit.  Once I was ready to get back to it, I know I did my exam at theend of April that year, and I think my first lesson was early March,  so probably about a six week wait for that, too.  But, again, it's a pretty rural area.  More populated areas will have longer wait times.  And right now, with the Covid backlog... ugh, I wouldn't like to guess.
9/1/2013 - "fiancée" (marriage) visa issued
4/6/2013 - married (certificate issued same-day)
5/6/2013 - FLR(M)#1 in person -- approved!
8/1/2016 - FLR(M)#2 by post -- approved!
8/5/2018 - ILR in person -- approved!
22/11/2018 - Citizenship (online, with NDRS+JCAP) -- approved!
14/12/2018 - I became a British citizen.  :)


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One tip I'd give you is to see - if your wife has a good and lengthy driving record under a UK license - what the pricing would be if you added her as a named driver to your insurance.

I used Comparethemarket.com to compare quotes (i literally just renewed mine). It's quite difficult to give an idea of what to expect under a US license I think because of all the factors (make/model/where the car will be parked/etc.) - as KF said, you get insurance on the CAR vs. take out insurance on yourself as a driver so you need the car before you can attempt to get the insurance (you can run quotes based on cars you're considering buying if that helps - so maybe try that and see what it comes back with)?

When I put my husband as a named driver on mine, it dropped my insurance by a fair amount. I'm hitting 6 or so years now of no claims bonuses and am finally hitting a point where removing him as a named driver is actually dropping my insurance quote by about £50. To help give you an idea - had my provisional license (learner's permit) which is the point you can start your "no claims" timeline for about 6 years or just over now and my insurance is just over the £300 PA mark. I have a Honda civic that's approaching 3 years old now. Nothing that qualifies as a modification to it and nothing particularly powerful about it that I'm aware of to jack up any prices further.

Don't forget you'll also have to TAX your vehicle (I just did that as well and it was about £150).

Hope that helps.
My, how time flies....

* Married in the US and applied for first spousal visa August 2013
* Moved to the UK on said visa October 2013
* FLR(M) applied for  May 2016. Biometrics requested June 2016. Approval given July 2016.
* ILR applied for January 2019 (using priority processing). Approved February 2019.
* Citizenship applied for May  2019

**CITIZENSHIP APPROVED July 4, 2019! Formal ceremony on August 28, 2019!**

HEY MOM, I'M A BRIT NOW :D


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Also keep in mind that UK insurance rates are based on the number of years you've had your UK license as well. So you probably want to get that UK license as soon as you can. I use the comparison site to swap my car insurance every year since the rates always go up otherwise.

The UK driving test is a real trip. I did mine in zone 2 of London and failed twice before passing with 3 month wait times between appointments. It was quite a hit to my US driving ego ;D (I drove for 20 years in the US from the age of 15 prior). Definitely try to get a lot of practice around the testing site at the tricky roundabouts and so on. I imagine outside of London the test is a lot easier - London driving can be very confusing with disappearing bus lanes, unmarked lane roundabouts, weird roundabout layouts, it's pretty much chaos  :).


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