Insurance doesn’t get more complicated when customers become senior citizens, but sometimes the price starts to increase. Seniors have a higher risk of being involved in accidents, and as a result, insurance premiums rise.
The good news is that there are steps seniors can take to help lower their car insurance premiums. We’ll examine specific tips for finding car insurance as a senior, but first, we’ll discuss the risk factors for older drivers and how you can reduce your risk.
Risk Factors for Seniors
Every adult is different, and not all seniors face the same risk factors, but some things come with aging that you might want to consider to determine if it’s a risk for you.
Slow Reaction Times
As you age, your reaction times may become slower, thanks to changes in how your nerves send messages. Studies have shown that your reaction time is related to your age, but general findings don’t mean that every person will experience slowed processing and reactions to the same degree.
Some people may experience no cognitive slowing, while others might start facing slower reactions in their 30s.
Stiff Joints and Muscle Weakness
Even if your reaction times are still quick, your body may limit your ability to respond in a timely manner. If you’ve lost strength as you’ve aged, it may be more challenging to apply the brakes heavily.
General weakness may lead to fatigue, so short trips may be all your body can handle safely.
Vision and Hearing Impairment
Unfortunately, many seniors experience loss of vision and hearing. Even if you can see well enough to drive, any reduced vision clarity could make the driving experience less safe.
If you can’t hear what’s happening outside your car, you may not be alert to sirens and environmental noises that could indicate your need to move to the side of the road or a safer place.
Hearing impairment may also make it more challenging to hear engine noises that need to be addressed before they lead to your car breaking down.
Sometimes, as seniors develop slower reactions and physical difficulties, they overcompensate by driving aggressively.
Tips to Reduce Risk
One of the most beneficial steps you can take as a senior to improve your driving is to take a defensive driver class. There are classes specifically for senior citizens that provide enrollees with strategies to mitigate their risk.
Here are some more tips directly related to the risk factors listed above.
Exercise to Improve Reaction Times
If your reaction times have become slower, you may be able to speed up your reactions simply by exercising and staying physically active. Activity will help strengthen your nerves. The benefits aren’t limited to your reaction times, though.
Loosen Joints and Strengthen Muscles
Exercise will also strengthen your muscles, allowing you to resist driving fatigue and properly respond to obstacles in the roadway.
Keeping up on your regular visits with your physician can help you identify supplements and nutrition that can help your joints from stiffening. Your doctor can also help you come up with a safe exercise regimen to strengthen your muscles.
Address Vision and Hearing Health
Get your eyes examined annually and if you have driving concerns, address them with your eye doctor. Perhaps you need an updated prescription and glasses. But you may need to limit your driving to daytime hours.
If you have noticed a decline in your hearing ability, you should make an appointment with an audiologist. Perhaps your hearing loss could be treated with hearing aids. If the hearing aids help you hear better while you’re driving, you can improve your safety.
Getting Insurance as a Senior
When teens start driving, they face the highest insurance rates of any demographic group. Males usually pay higher premiums than females because they present a higher risk of accident involvement.
Once young drivers reach their mid-20s, their risk decreases, and their insurance premiums tend to get lower as a result. Insurance rates stay fairly steady through adulthood until drivers enter their 60s. Then their rates increase with their higher risk.
Older adults usually end up paying high premiums for insurance, second only to teen drivers. Thankfully, there are several ways that you can keep your premiums lower.
Look for Discounts
Seniors living on a fixed income will be especially interested in saving money on insurance as prices of everything else keep increasing.
If you take a defensive driving class, your car insurance company may offer you a discount for completing the course. Even if they don’t, if the course helps you drive safer and avoid accidents, you’ll avoid paying higher rates for having an accident on your record.
Drivers both young and old should compare insurance premiums twice a year. As you age, you may find that a different insurance company may cater to your demographic better than your current insurer.
Discounts can help you save up to one-third of your premiums. One discount you should always consider is a bundling discount. If you purchase a home and car insurance from the same provider, you may be eligible for a bundling discount, which will apply to all your lines of coverage from that company.
If you’ve been in the military, you may be able to receive a military discount. The discount doesn’t depend on your driving history or age but simply on the fact that you served your country.
If you maintain a clean driving record, you’ll probably be eligible for a good driver discount. Most insurance companies offer this discount.
Besides looking for discounts, you can change your coverage levels to save money on insurance.
Evaluate Your Coverage Types
If you drive a car older than 10 years old, you may not need to carry full coverage on it anymore. As your vehicle depreciates, the cost to have full coverage is often not worth the potential benefit.
Suppose the cost to add full coverage to a liability policy costs more than 10% of your vehicle’s value annually. In that case, you can usually drop that coverage and save the difference so you can afford a new car if yours is declared a total loss.
Another way to bring your monthly premiums down is to increase your deductible. Higher deductibles lower your risk to insurance companies, so they charge you lower premiums to reflect that.
Just remember that you’ll have to pay your deductible if your car is damaged or destroyed. If you’re unable to keep your deductible amount in savings, you may need to keep a lower deductible so you can afford repairs.
Even though insurance rates increase with age once individuals reach their 60s and 70s, shopping around for the best policy, applying eligible discounts, and tweaking your coverage can help keep your insurance rates manageable.
Melanie Musson writes and researches for the car insurance site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. She enjoys helping people understand their driving risks, how to become safer drivers, and how to turn that into insurance savings.