Isn't car insurance cheaper for older drivers?
Traditionally, drivers over 60 have enjoyed much cheaper premiums than their younger counterparts, with males aged between 17 and 25 being cited as most likely to suffer accidents due to overconfidence and inexperience on the road. However, as drivers get past their sixties and into their seventies, age-related health issues and slower reflexes can increase the risk of accidents again, and push up premiums for some motorists. However, aging occurs at different rates in people, and some aged over 100 are still driving safely and securely, whilst others in their sixties have decided to hand over the steering wheel to safer hands.
How does age affect our car insurance?
According to Association of British Insurers, even up to the age of 90 senior drivers pay less, on average, for their car insurance than the average motorist aged under thirty because they have more experience on the road, and and if they do have accidents they tend to happen at lower speeds and so cause less damage and fewer injuries, which is good news to the insurance companies. However, just one age-related incident can not only cause the loss of a no-claims bonus but also lead to substantially higher premiums. In addition, elderly drivers with health problems will probably find fewer insurers willing to cover them for a reasonable premium, if at all. It is therefore vital to stay both fit and accident free as far as possible. If age is affecting someone's ability to drive safely, consideration should be given to reducing the number of miles driven; or even to voluntarily surrender one's licence.
It is a legal requirement for drivers to renew their licences once they reach the age of seventy. This is free to do, and includes a request to provide information about various medical conditions that could affect driving abilities. These include some eye ailments, heart disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's and diabetes – in short, any condition which could result in sudden loss of control or consciousness whilst driving. Following this initial renewal, the licence must be renewed again every three years until the driver decides to stop driving. Some of the information given during these triennial updates may inspire the licencing authority to ask for more information and even to cancel a licence if they deem the driver to be a risk to themselves and other road users.
How do we find cheaper insurance?
Healthy long-lived drivers can help keep their premiums lower in the following ways:
- Swap Vehicles: Consider switching to a car with a smaller engine. This is especially true after retirement, as it is more likely that there will be less driving and shorter distances travelled every week. This will also help to combat any muscle loss, enabling elderly drivers to control their speed and the power of the vehicle. A final reason for switching to a smaller or more modest car is that it will be less desirable to thieves.
- Thief-Proofing: Pensioners should consider installing alarms (or making unfailing use of the in-built car alarm) and other anti-theft devices like immobilisers, tyre and steering-wheel locks, trackers and even devices that block access under the hood of the car. Often insurers will ask about such devices and using them on a regular basis can reduce premiums by a small, but significant amount. Housing a car in a garage or in a secure off-road parking area is another excellent way to safeguard the vehicle: if thieves cannot see it, they are less likely to try to steal it. Finding your car has been stolen if you, or a passenger, is infirm is no laughing matter.
- Monitor your mileage: When renewing insurance premiums, retired drivers should take careful note of their mileage. Once the daily commute to work has stopped, it is quite possible that mileage will drop, quite dramatically. Less mileage almost always means cheaper car insurance so it may be worth while checking the estimated mileage you are being charged for at renewal time; it may be a lot more than you need now.
- Pay in the best way: Check out the various payment options available for the policy. It is often assumed that the cheapest way to pay is monthly via direct debit, because in many other businesses monthly direct debit IS the cheapest way to pay. However, most insurers prefer to receive payment in full annually, in one lump sum at the beginning of the insurance period and they usually charge extra for monthly payments
- Discount Please? Ask for a discount! Whilst some insurers may have set prices and decline to issue a discount, others have substantial discounts that are literally available for the asking, particularly if their clients are threatening to take their business elsewhere. Obviously, not every insurer will do this, but asking the question will not hurt and could result in an intensely satisfying saving on the premium!
- Increase your excess: If the higher age bracket drivers can afford to increase their excess (the amount that the customer will have to pay, before the insurer steps in to cover the remaining costs of the repair or replacement) they can often make a good saving on their premium. This is a very good idea for those who have a substantial no-claims bonus and know themselves to be safe and careful drivers.
- Switch Companies: Sadly, loyalty no longer seems to mean anything to service companies, and the expectation of being appreciated for staying with one insurer is unlikely to be realised in any monetary sense. Once premiums begin to creep up due to age-related factors, car owners should begin to shop around with companies that specialise in providing insurance for drivers aged fifty and above. These companies may be more likely to offer the most favourable rates to safe mature motorists thanks to their detailed application forms which allow them to diffentialte between good drivers and those with issues that could affect their safety on the road.
- If you have health issues: Consider whether these are severe enough to make it advisable for you to give up driving. A car accident could be life changing for other people as well as yourself and you wouldn't want that on your conscience. If they are not too bad, you will need to discuss your insurance options with a specialist broker, either in person or by telephone, since price comparison sites will be unable to offer you any quotes.
Finally, staying in good health, attending regular eye tests, eating the right food and exercising moderately; in short, leading as healthy a lifestyle as possible; will help older drivers to remain in good physical and mental health for a long time, ensuring that their driving skills remain sharp and that their retired lives are full, satisfying and rewarding.