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Marmalade to cover lost driving test costs

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Written by: Emma Lunn
12/02/2021
Frustrated learner drivers have been calling for justice after losing more than £1.1m through expired theory test certificates due to thousands of practical tests being cancelled since the start of the pandemic.

In a bid to support learner drivers’ efforts to pass their driving test, the young driver insurance provider is offering its customers a full refund on their car theory test cost if it expired or expires during the UK lockdown.

Learner drivers need to pass both a theory test and practical test to gain a full UK driving licence. A theory test certificate lasts for two years.

If a learner driver hasn’t passed the practical driving test within two years of passing their theory test, the theory test certificate will expire, and they will need to book and pass the theory test again. But drivers have been unable to take practical tests during lockdown periods.

The cost of expired theory test certificates

Following multiple FOI requests, Marmalade found that almost 50,000 learner drivers were left out of pocket due to the lockdowns in 2020.

During 2020, 49,543 theory test certificates expired at a cost of £23 each, equating to a total cost of £1,139,489.

Based on the 149 days of delays in 2020 where tests were paused, an average of 332 certificates expired every day.

At 332 certificates on average, over the course of the next six-week lockdown, learners could lose £320,712, or £7,636 per day – a total of 13,944 tests.

A public petition to extend theory test certificate expiration dates by 12 months collected more than 61,000 signatures, but despite this the government has refused to extend the two-year deadline for expirations on certificates.

Marmalade to cover costs

Marmalade is offering its customers the cash back for their expired theory test certificates if the certificate expired during lockdown.

Learner drivers unable to proceed with their practical test between the 23 March 2020 and the date at which practical tests resume in their respective devolved nation will qualify for the payment.

Crispin Moger, CEO of Marmalade, 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 shows 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. If just half of the learners pay to retake, this still amounts to over £1.7m.

“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.”

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