If you’re a senior driver, you’ve probably seen your car insurance rates increase with every birthday. That’s because the risk for the insurance company goes up as you get older. In fact, people ages 70 and older are more likely to get into fatal car wrecks than other folks.
To help deal with the increasing costs, here’s how to keep your coverage affordable.
Why Do Rates Increase in Old Age?
During middle age, your car insurance rates should go down if you maintain an accident-free history. Therefore, why do rates go up when you hit 55? After all, most seniors are already more likely to take safety precautions while driving.
In fact, older adults:
- Are more apt to wear seatbelts.
- Typically limit their driving in unsafe conditions.
- Have a lower incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol.
But they might be at a greater risk of:
- Driving with poor vision.
- Driving while impaired by medication.
- Having medical conditions that affect their coordination, judgment, and reaction times.
Invest in Driving Lessons
If you’re 55 years or older, you can get a discount on your car insurance by taking driver’s education classes. 34 states and the District of Columbia offer reduced rates for older people who take a state-approved class.
Classes cost between about $20 and $45 and help you maintain sharp driving skills. Students will get a refresher on safe driving, road rules, new technology, and how health issues can impair driving. These classes aren’t the same as driver’s education courses for young adults. They specifically address issues such as how to modify driving habits if you have slower reflexes and understand modern vehicle safety features.
You can find defensive driving classes for seniors through AAA, AARP, and the National Safety Council. Check with your insurance company to learn whether enrolling in a class can get you a discount.
Choose a Safe Car
You might be tempted to buy a “fun car” for those post-retirement joyrides without the grandkids. However, you should know that insurance companies charge lower premiums for safer cars. There are two ways that the type of car that you drive can impact your auto insurance rates:
- You’ll pay more in collision and comprehensive coverage for a newer, more expensive vehicle.
- Many car insurers charge less to cover safer brands of vehicles or those with eco-friendly features.
Some of the cheapest cars to insure include:
- Honda Odyssey LX
- Jeep Renegade Sport
- Jeep Wrangler Bear
- Honda CR-V LX
- Jeep Compass
The cars that garner lower insurance premiums may also be more affordable to repair and maintain, helping you save money in other ways.
When you’re shopping for a car, research its safety rating. Some of the factors that determine whether a car has good crash protection include:
- Moderate size and weight
- Strong occupant compartment
- Crumple zones
- Air bags
- A strong roof
- Proper restraints for adults and children
Update Your Car Safety
For your own safety, you may want to have your driving assessed by a professional periodically. Driving skills evaluations let you find out if your driving skills are proficient and uncover insufficiencies that may be addressed with specialized driving courses.
Clinical assessments can reveal whether you’re fit to safely operate a motor vehicle if you have health problems that could affect your driving. These assessments can help you decide whether you need adaptive technology to help you control your vehicle.
Cars with anti-theft and anti-collision features are usually cheaper to insure than those without these elements. However, you must take into account the car’s make, model, and year.
You might save money insuring an older car compared to a newer one as long as maintenance is affordable and parts are cheap. Plus, it may be worth it to drop collision and comprehensive coverage on an older car and save the money in case of an emergency instead.
Many modern technologies are becoming available to keep drivers safer in a crash. Insurers may reduce your premiums if your car has:
- A front collision warning system
- An automatic emergency braking system
- Adaptive cruise control
- Rear crash prevention
- Lane departure warnings
- Blind spot detection
- Curve-adaptive headlights
- High-beam assist
If you drive an older car, make sure that it has the following safety features to get the lowest car insurance rates possible:
- Anti-lock brakes
- Air bags
- Daytime running lights
- Electronic stability control
While these features are fairly standard in newer car models, they weren’t necessarily used a few decades ago.
You may also save money by installing a tracking device in your car. These devices are issued by car insurance companies and capture data from your car’s computer. Many insurance providers give you a discount if you use equipment like this. Some of the information that insurance providers collect are:
- Time spent driving
- Distance driven
- When the driver uses the vehicle
- Incidents of hard braking
- Driving speed
Report to Your Insurer That You’ve Been Driving Less
Your insurance company will probably lower your rates if you don’t drive frequently. If your car isn’t on the road as much, you’re less likely to get into an accident. Plus, your car is subject to less wear and tear as your mileage drops.
Drivers who travel fewer than 7,500 miles a year can get a discount of at least 15 percent. Depending on the insurer, a discount for low mileage can be offered for driving between 5,000 and 15,000 miles a year. If you have a tracking device, the car insurance provider will get real-time analysis of your mileage. However, most companies just take your word for it.
A few insurance companies offer pay-as-you-go plans. These are ideal for seniors that carpool frequently, live in urban areas, or use public transportation often.
Shop Around and Compare Quotes
Rates for different car insurance companies can vary dramatically. Make sure that you do your research and shop around for quotes before you commit.
You can often save money when you bundle your car insurance with other types of coverage, such as homeowner’s insurance or an umbrella policy. If you have multiple drivers on the same plan, you’ll also qualify for a reduced rate.
If you’re 55 or older, contact your insurance company to ask about discounts. They may have ideas that you haven’t considered. Some may simply drop your rate for being retired.
Even if you’ve had the same car insurance policy for decades, it may be time to consider other options.