Some senior stats for you: By 2030, one in five Americans will be over 65. The first of the baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, officially became senior citizens in 2011. There are more than 76 million baby boomers—the single largest population growth in U.S. history. That means we’re about to have an unprecedented population of older Americans—which also means we’ll soon have more senior citizen drivers than on the road than ever before. Today is National Senior Citizens Day, so we figured, what better time for Quoted to dive into the topic of car insurance for seniors?
How Car Insurance Changes for Seniors
Generally speaking, car insurance rates tend to be great for drivers between the ages of 55 to 75, assuming they have clean driving records. In fact, rates generally drop every year you get older until age 60, and even then, they don’t increase much. See The Zebra’s State of Auto Insurance Report for more.
Why Do Car Insurance Rates Drop for Seniors?
First, after retirement, you’ll likely be driving less.
The Zebra‘s own licensed insurance agent Jonathan Wagner explains: “Most often, I see a drop from 10,000-15,000 miles per year to 5,000-8,000 per year for retired people.”
And because you’ll be on the road less, your insurer might see you as less of a risk (makes sense, right?) and offer you a low-mileage discount. A word of caution, though: Insurers often require proof before they’ll fork over this discount.
Also, if your children have moved out of the house, you’ve been through a divorce or lost a spouse, that might change your rate, too. If your trusty vehicle has grown older alongside you, you might be able to save some money by selecting less coverage for the car.
Car Insurance Myths: Seniors Don’t Pay More—Necessarily
It’s a myth that older drivers will always pay more for car insurance. But after about age 75, data does show that elderly drivers’ accidents rates tend to shoot up. Because of this, your insurance company could raise your rate, even if you haven’t personally been in an accident.
Esurance looked into the issue and found the following:
“According to data for 2009 from the last U.S. Census, motorists age 75 and up were involved in almost 8 percent of fatal crashes despite making up 6.5 percent of the driving population. But drivers from all age groups below 35 had a higher rate of involvement in fatal crashes per capita.”
In other words: Elderly drivers might not be as great as middle-aged drivers, but they’re no worse than teenagers and young folks, either.
Take a Driving Course to Get a Discount
Many insurance companies now offer driver’s education courses for older drivers in exchange for a discount. (And who couldn’t use a refresher course, anyway? Parallel parking, anyone?) Check out this AARP Smart Driver course, which can be taken online or in person. Just be sure to check with your state, however, to find out which courses are legally accepted in order to qualify for the discount.
The Zebra licensed insurance agent Rick Vasquez explains the good and bad news about this discount: “In states like Florida, New York, and New Jersey, there is a discount for senior citizens as long as they take the defensive driving course every three years, and that is mandatory by state law. Unfortunately, most states dont have such rules and only some carriers offer such discounts.” Call your carrier to find out if you can save, and if not, shop around. Remember: Customer loyalty doesn’t always pay, anyway.
Signs it’s Time to Stop Driving
When the time does come to hand over the keys, it can sometimes be a tough transition. A few signs that it might indeed be time for a senior to stop driving:
- Driving too fast or slow
- Fender benders or close calls
- Getting lost frequently, especially in familiar areas
- Slow response time
- Trouble turning head to check for other cars
- Problems staying in lanes
- Getting more moving violations than ever before
So how can you tell, as a senior, if it’s time to reexamine your car insurance policy? Elaine Baiden, a vice president at Travelers Insurance, offered ABC News a simple rule of thumb for senior drivers to remember: “Any change impacting vehicle use should trigger a car insurance review.”
*Updated May 26, 2017