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Northern Ireland reports 86% increase in learners despite LOCKDOWN

Local Learn to Drive Hotspots Revealed

As bookings go online and driving lessons and tests return in great demand this week, new figures show an 86% year-on-year increase in demand for learner car insurance in Northern Ireland – despite the pandemic.

The top hotspots with the most learners in 2020 were Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, followed by Mid and East Antrim and Newry, Mourne and Down.

The top three areas with the biggest year-on-year increase, at over 100%, were Mid and East Antrim and Causeway Coast and Glens – both with a 110% increase in learners, followed by Ards and North Down at 107%.

Interestingly, the overall UK figure showed a third of learners were over 30 years old, with Northern Ireland below the national average at 25% over 30 in 2019, falling to just 17% in 2020.

The data, from, also reveals that many motorists spend longer as learner drivers than might be expected, with almost a third (32.2%) holding a provisional licence for more than a decade.

The research also shows demand for learner premiums has rocketed 42% from 2019 to 2020, although the average age was still firmly rooted in the mid-20s.  The data was sourced from 2019 and 2020 records covering a sample of 50,000 provisional drivers across the UK.

Greg Wilson,’s Founder, comments: “It’s great to see some normality return this week with learners keen to book in their test and get out on the road as soon as possible.  It’s unusual to see such a spike in demand for learner car insurance considering lessons and testing have been on hold for the most part of 2020, but perhaps family members have had more time at home on furlough or working from home to do the teaching themselves.

“It is likely Northern Ireland has a higher percentage of younger drivers compared to the overall UK average as our public transport links aren’t quite as extensive, and a lot of young people here leave the country for university, so many may be keen to get their full licence before they go.

“Some learners can find it difficult to get insurance and when they do it can be expensive as insurers deem their lack of experience as high risk, but there are lots of things learners can do nowadays to help them get a competitive price, such as choosing telematics insurance which monitors their driving, choosing a car with a smaller engine size and shopping around for the best deals by using a price comparison site such as ours.” is Northern Ireland’s largest insurance comparison website – helping learner drivers find a better deal on their provisional insurance, and for anyone wanting to take lessons with a friend or family member there’s also the option of temporary learner insurance.

See tables below of Learner statistics across Northern Ireland.

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  NI Learner Hotspots (per council area) 2020 Learners
1 Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon 1003
2 Mid and East Antrim 880
3 Newry, Mourne and Down 853
4 Derry City and Strabane 777
5 Ards & North Down 757
6 Antrim and Newtownabbey 751
7 Causeway Coast and Glens 729
8 Mid Ulster 700
9 Fermanagh and Omagh 643
10 Belfast 630
11 Lisburn & Castlereagh 332


YEAR NI Learners 30 & Over % 30 & Over
2019 4358 1090 25%
2020 8115 1420 17%

*86% year of year increase in learners in NI. Overall UK records: 50,000 Sample


NI District Council Area 2019 Learners 2020 Learners % Increase
Mid and East Antrim 420 880 110%
Causeway Coast and Glens 347 729 110%
Ards & North Down 365 757 107%
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon 503 1003 99%
Newry, Mourne and Down 439 853 94%
Lisburn & Castlereagh 172 332 93%
Antrim and Newtownabbey 393 751 91%
Derry City and Strabane 408 777 90%
Belfast 380 630 66%
Mid Ulster 431 700 62%
Fermanagh and Omagh 447 643 44%


Provisional licences been held Percentage
More than 5 years (2015) 12.5%
More than 10 years (2010) 23.8%
20 years plus (2000) 8.4%

For more new driver advice see our getting started section, theory test help or practical test help to get you started. We also offer advice on buying a car, explain different insurance types and tips on staying safe.

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