If you have passed your driving test in Hong Kong, count yourself lucky as these tests are by no means the easiest in the world, given the rude driving styles of some drivers on the road and the stringent evaluation system of the test (just one serious mistake is enough to make you fail). However, you will still have to gain at least one year of driving experience before you can obtain your full license. Today, Kwiksure's article will focus on the probationary driving license, and car insurance for probationary drivers.
Background information on probationary driving licenses
Previously, statistics showed that novice drivers were more likely to get involved in accidents, probably due to their lack of driving experience. In light of this, the government has applied the probationary driving scheme (a.k.a provisional/learner driving scheme) to motorcycles in 2000, and private cars and light goods vehicles in 2009. This scheme aims to provide novice drivers with a longer driving period under a controlled environment in order to enhance road safety.
What should you know about probationary driving licenses?
Generally speaking, there is a ‘1234’ rule that new drivers should pay attention to:
All holders of the probationary driving license must wait until the 12-month probationary period has passed before they can be qualified as a fully licensed driver.
Drivers can apply for a probationary driving license for their respective vehicle class within 3 years after passing the driving test.
Not only are new drivers bound by the same restrictions applicable to ordinary drivers, but they also need to abide by the below 4 regulations:
They should display a “P” plate at the front and rear of a vehicle that they are driving;
They cannot carry any passenger whilst driving a motorcycle or tricycle;
They cannot drive at speeds in excess of 70 km/h, even if the speed limit of the road is above 70 km/h;
They cannot drive their vehicles on the offside lane of expressways where there are 3 or more traffic lanes.
Extension and cancellation of your driving license
If a probationary driver is convicted of a “minor” road traffic offense (which will incur 3 or 5 demerit points), including violating the above-mentioned four restrictions, the driver’s probationary period will be extended by six months upon conviction of the offense.
If a probationary driver commits a “serious” road traffic offense or two “minor” road traffic offenses, the driver’s probationary driving license will be canceled.
For further details on how this point system works and road traffic offenses, you can click here.
What should probationary drivers know when securing insurance?
Hong Kong traffic laws clearly stipulate that all drivers need to possess at least a third-party car insurance plan. So even if you have passed your driving test, you will have to first acquire a legitimate car insurance policy before getting behind the wheel.
According to Kwiksure car insurance manager Ken, regardless of whether the driver is on probation, as long as the driver is over 21 years of age, most insurers will be happy to insure them. Having said that, probationary drivers or drivers under 25 years of age tend to be imposed with higher premiums (150% higher than that of fully-licensed drivers). This is because they are statistically more likely to be involved in a collision or commit traffic violations, so insurers need to charge more to defray the potential cost.
Ken also stated that one in four probationary drivers need to submit claims to the insurer, which is 15% higher than fully-licensed drivers. For high-risk models such as expensive race cars, insurers may charge an even higher premium, or decline to insure altogether.
How to find cheaper car insurance for P-license holders
As mentioned in our previous article, there are two main points you should take note of if you want cheaper insurance premiums. Firstly, you may have to wait for up to three years in total for your premium to go down, that is, one year to turn your probationary driving license into a full one, and another two years so that you won’t be categorized as ‘inexperienced’. Secondly, you can add yourself as a named driver to another more experienced driver’s motor insurance.
Additionally, it pays to make use of the services of a reputable insurance brokerage, so that you can compare the prices from different insurers all in one go. With over 19 years of experience, Kwiksure is an established motor insurance brokerage that maintains close relationships with over 60 insurers in Hong Kong. Having been honored with numerous accolades in the industry, our team of experts offers ongoing support to clients, from choosing plans, to claims assistance and renewals. Our online quotation system also allows our potential customers to get quotes in a hassle-free way. Contact us today for impartial insurance advice, an obligation-free quote, and a free plan comparison!