Question: I used to get fairly good rates, but the price of my auto policy has been on the rise since I turned 70. Why? Can you tell me about senior citizen discounts for car insurance and ways to help bring down my premium?
Answer: Even if you’ve been an excellent driver for years, once you’ve reach a certain age, auto insurance rates start to rise. The age at which rates begin to increase varies by auto insurer, but typically it’s between 65 and 70. (See “The cheapest age for car insurance”)
Insurance companies base rates on their own claims experiences; yours is probably paying out more claims for drivers over a certain age. Research tends to back them up:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes older drivers have age-related declines in cognitive functioning and vision that along with physical ailments (such as arthritis) that may affect their driving abilities.
- Statistics show that the older drivers are more susceptible to injury and injuries are more severe when sustained in a car accident due to physical frailty and existing medical conditions.
- A report on older drivers by TRIP (a national nonprofit transportation research group) found that although overall fatality rates have decreased in recent years, the number of older drivers killed or involved in fatal crashes remains disproportionately high. Drivers age 65 and older account for eight percent of all miles driven in the nation, but account for 17 percent of all traffic fatalities.
- Estimates say that, on average, 15 older adults are killed and 500 are injured in car crashes every day.
There are, however, ways in which you can reduce your total premium and help balance out the base rates increase that comes with the title of a “mature” driver. Ways to save include:
- Get a mature driver discount. Many states require that car insurance companies offer a discount if a senior-aged driver completes an approved accident prevention course. The discount typically can be up to 15 percent and last for three years.
- Drive a safe car. Car insurance company give discounts for items such as anti-lock brakes, airbags and other manufacturer installed safety equipment.
- Drive less -- and let your insurer know. The fewer miles you drive annually, the less possibility there is you will be in an accident. Many insurance companies will offer reduced rates if you limit your driving to, say, less than 10,000 miles each year.
- Try out a telematics device in your car to get a discount. Mature drivers can benefit from these pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) or usage-based (UBI) auto insurance programs, such as Progressive’s Snapshot, since they typically not only drive less, but aren’t on the roads during “peak” hours.
- Change your coverages. If you have a vehicle that is older, think about dropping down to liability-only coverage. If you keep comprehensive and collision, then see about raising your deductibles to save money. (See “Will higher deductibles save you money?”)
- Exclude drivers. If you have someone that is in your household that no longer drives, such as an older relative who has relinquished his or her license, see if you can exclude that person from your policy and if that will drop your rates down.
Depending upon your situation, there may be other discounts that you are eligible for, you can find out by comparison shopping with multiple insurance providers. Insurance companies' discount offerings and rating system for premiums vary, so you could save hundreds – if not thousands – a year just by shopping around for the best deal.