Insurance provider Marmalade is offering its customers a full refund on their car theory test cost if it expired or expires during the UK lockdown, as it calls for other insurers to lend their support to learner drivers.
It comes as “frustrated” learner drivers have lost more than £1.1m through expired theory test certificates due to thousands of practical tests being cancelled since the start of the pandemic.
A public petition to extend theory test certificate expiration dates by 12 months has picked up more than 61,000 signatures, though the government has declined to extend the two-year deadline for expirations on certificates.
The UK theory test currently costs £23 for cars and is valid for two years from the pass date, though data from Marmalade found that 49,543 people UK-wide lost their theory certificate during 2020 at a combined cost of £1,139,489.
Using the data, it estimates that 13,944 tests will expire in the current national lockdown if it ends mid-February, equating to an overall loss of £320,712 or £7,636 per day for UK learner drivers.
In light of this, learner drivers unable to proceed with their practical test between the 23 March 2020 and the date at which practical tests resume will qualify for the payment from Marmalade, in a bid to ensure learners “pass their test without more additional stress”.
CEO of Marmalade, Crispin Moger said: “There are thousands of learner drivers who were planning to take their test and have now lost out due to cancellations caused by the ongoing pandemic.
“These learners are required to take their test and pass again before they can move to their practical test, something which I don’t doubt is causing added stress for a lot of learners.”
Marmalade’s data also found that if all learners pay to retake their test, the cost of £46 for two theory tests means this set of lockdown learner drivers will have spent almost £2.3m on their theory exam.
Moger added: “For many, this is a major setback as they would have started to make plans around passing their driving test and having more freedom. The UK Government isn’t doing enough and isn’t willing to step in and help UK learners, so that is why we are offering existing customers and new customers whose theory test certificates have expired, or are set to expire during lockdown the opportunity to claim the money back on us.
“We are urging other learner driver insurers to follow suit to help us in giving learners the chance to qualify as drivers as soon as possible.”