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5 Secrets Companies Won’t Tell You about Buying Auto Insurance for Seniors

Secrets Companies Won’t Tell You about Buying Auto Insurance for SeniorsAccording to the experts, the number of senior drivers is increasing at a great rate as Americans are continuing to drive much longer and the Baby Boomers are reaching their golden years. Car insurance is still an important topic, and your insurance company might not be as forthcoming as you would like.

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Not all companies are so tight-lipped about coverage that you would claim that they are keeping things from you, but such considerations sometimes fall through the cracks. It is not as if the insurance world is waiting with bated breath to yell “surprise” at your birthday and rain senior savings down up you.

Often, the insurance industry works like this: If you know about a tip or trick or special issue, and you bring it up, then the insurer will address it. If you don’t acknowledge it, then they may not bring it up on their own.

Requirements for Senior Drivers

So what makes a senior driver? The requirements vary from provider to provider. They even vary depending upon state laws.

Commonly, drivers are considered seniors at the age of 55, though that is not a hard and fast rule; other insurance companies may set that particular bar at the age of 60 or even 65.

Many states are scrambling to respond to the higher number of older drivers on the road. As a result, seniors are likely to see many changes in terms of licensing as a requirement for continued driving.

According to data reported by the Insurance Information Institute, 28 states and the District of Columbia have instituted tougher requirements for renewing the driving privileges of older drivers.Companies Won’t Tell You about Buying Auto Insurance for Seniors

For instance, nine states have an age limit for renewing a driver’s license by mail. Starting as early as age 65, those states will not allow senior drivers to simply mail in the form to renew a driver’s license; they must go to the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles and take an eye exam, answer a questionnaire, and more.

Some states have increased the frequency of renewal, perhaps going from a ten-year renewal schedule to a five-year renewal schedule for those drivers over the age of 65. Other states have additional testing requirements or even require doctors to report medical conditions that may impair driving.

Certainly, seniors are experiencing eyesight issues, dealing with slower reflexes, and taking medications that may have side effects that will impair driving skills. However, seniors are healthier than ever before, and the trend of seeing more older drivers on the road is sure to continue.

#1: Most Seniors Have the Lowest Risk

Won’t Tell You about Buying Auto Insurance for SeniorsA common myth is that older drivers are some of the most dangerous, but that common belief only holds up for those drivers who are very advanced in age. Though backed up by statistics, vehicle coverage providers are unlikely to share the fact that senior drivers have some of the lowest risks for being in an accident.

You may wonder why it would be important for an insurer to inform you of risk statistics, but risk is what drives the cost of car insurance premiums for every age group. The age group with the lowest risk of having a future claim from an accident, theft, or other event will have the lowest car insurance costs on average.

Statistics that relate to risk are one reason why young drivers have the most expensive car insurance coverage; drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to be the cause of an accident. Similarly, because older drivers have the lowest risk, they should have the lowest costs for car insurance of any age group.

According to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2000 to 2009, drivers from age 55 to 64 had the lowest fatality rate from car accidents of any other age group.

The only age group with a lower fatality rate was children 15 and under.

Further statistics show that seniors also observe better safe driving habits. The NHTSA cites data that shows that older drivers are more likely to use safety devices such as seatbelts and avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol.

#2: Some States Require Discounts

As a senior driver, you may be entitled to special discounts based solely on your age. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, seniors might be entitled to special savings that no other age group can claim.

Tell You about Buying Auto Insurance for SeniorsAlmost all states have laws on the books requiring insurance providers to offer special discounts to older drivers. Each state’s rules and laws will be different, as will the way the insurance companies interpret the specifications for giving a discount to an older driver.

Checking your state’s Department of Insurance website will let you know the discounts available to older drivers in your state. You will likely find the specifications on age and other factors to qualify for the discount.

Such laws will also probably govern where in your policy the discount is applied and for how long you might qualify for the discount. According to the NAIC, most senior discounts end after age 70, when risk starts to creep back up.

Keep in mind that your insurer might not automatically offer you this discount as soon as you meet all of the requirements. As stated, you will probably need to contact your provider to ask for the discount.

#3: Safety Classes Are Available Online

Another point that insurers might not be shouting from the rooftops is that most seniors can take a vehicle safety class to get further discounts. These classes take into account special considerations just for older drivers.

Such classes address issues such as failing eyesight, medications, and technology in the car. Even better, many of these classes can be taken online or in a classroom setting. For the most part, such courses are also relatively inexpensive.

For example, the New York Department of Financial Services outlines the details of discounts given for these classes. In the Empire State, a driver can take a safety course approved by the N.Y. Department of Motor Vehicles to get a 10% discount off of their liability, collision, and no-fault coverage portions of an auto insurance policy. Additionally, the discount lasts for three years and includes a deduction of up to four points off a driver’s license.

Such courses can be taken online, which reduces the cost for getting to and from a classroom setting.

For around $20, members and non-members alike can take the safety course offered by the AARP online or in the classroom to qualify for a senior discount.

#4: Low Mileage Equals Lower Rates

A further point that seniors should know about when it comes to car insurance is that the decreased mileage typically driven by older individuals and retirees can spell lower costs for coverage. Again, each insurance provider will offer a discount or lower rate in a different way, but if you drive fewer miles than you used to, you probably can find savings on your policy.5 Companies Won’t Tell You about Buying Auto Insurance for Seniors

Just about all drivers can get a reduced rate for driving fewer miles, but seniors are more likely to naturally drive less. You may need to be officially retired to get such a discount, or you may be able to prove your low mileage habits using odometer reporting or devices that track driving behaviors.

Telematics devices are one of the newest innovations in the auto insurance industry. They use GPS technology to track driving behaviors, mileage, and other factors to allow insurers to see how customers really drive. Many insurers have programs with such devices.

Usually, those vehicles equipped with OnStar software already have the capability, or you might need to simply plug a tracking device into your vehicle’s computer system. The devices record your low mileage, and your insurance company offers you reduced rates based on that mileage.

#5: Vehicle Safety Is Important

Lastly, senior drivers need to understand that vehicle safety is of the utmost importance. A safe vehicle garners a lower rate than one with a low safety rating, but it is even more important for seniors.

While seniors are less likely to be involved in a car accident, statistics from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that older drivers are involved in more fatal crashes than they should be for the number of drivers on the road.

According to the FHWA, the higher fatality rates are due to the increased frailty of older drivers.

The FHWA contends that such loss of strength really begins to increase around ages 60 to 64. Senior drivers are less able to take the impact of a crash without having serious injuries, and additional ailments and afflictions may compromise older drivers even furtheCompanies Won’t Tell about Buying Auto Insurance for Seniorsr.

For both insurance reasons and for the well-being of older drivers, the safety of a senior’s car should really be taken into consideration. Safety ratings can be viewed at websites such the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Keep in mind that air bags can cause damage as well as save lives, so it is important for older drivers to follow guidelines concerning weight, height, age, and proximity to the air bag. Seatbelts should, of course, always be worn, and older drivers need to be sure that they are always able to drive safely.

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