As you get older, driver licence requirements become stricter and, depending on your driving history, seniors car insurance may be expensive if you don’t know what you’re looking for. On the flip side, your experience on the road can mean you are rewarded with a lower premium.
If your current policy has been in place for a number of years, it might be worth looking around to see if there is something more suitable and easier on the wallet. This guide looks at restrictions placed on older drivers, the car insurance for seniors that is available and what you can do to reduce your car insurance premiums.
What's in this guide?
- Compare policies
- When do you start paying more for car insurance?
- How does your age affect car insurance?
- What car insurance options are available to seniors?
- Tips for paying less for car insurance
- How can you help older drivers stay safe on the road?
- What are the licensing requirements for seniors
- Are your grandchildren covered by seniors car insurance?
When do you start paying more for car insurance?
Once you turn the magic age of 60 years old, your premiums may start to rise; you may have to pay a higher excess than others and you might find standard car insurance overpriced or harder to find. For example, people in the over 70 age group are more likely to suffer a sudden health issue while driving, and are usually slower to recover from injuries, which makes medical bills more expensive.
Insurance companies tend to spend more on claims from older drivers, and consequently charge a higher premium. In New Zealand there aren’t any car insurance policies specifically designed for older drivers, but insurers will take age into account when calculating premiums.
How does your age affect car insurance?
Factors that can affect your ability to drive (and which can impact your car insurance premium) include:
- Impaired hearing and vision
- Physical problems, such as osteoarthritis
- Poorer cognitive functioning
- Greater use of prescription medication
Insurers are all about risk, and they can view older drivers as posing a greater risk because they are more likely to make a claim.
The three main types of car insurance that apply to all drivers regardless of age are:
|Type||What it covers||When you need it|
|Comprehensive||Comprehensive car insurance covers your car plus other people’s property.||Combines Third Party Fire & Theft with complete coverage of your own car from many types of damage.|
|Third Party Fire & Theft||Third Party Fire & Theft covers third party property plus damage from fire and theft.||It has the benefits of Third Party cover, while also protecting your own vehicle from fire and theft. A good option for people who want Third Party and extra benefits.|
|Third Party||Third Party covers damage to other people’s property.||It pays for damage to other people’s property that you may cause while driving. Strongly recommended as the minimum amount of insurance you should have.|
While restrictions on older drivers vary, the cost of seniors car insurance may be higher than for other demographics. So, how can you keep your car insurance costs down?
- How is your driving history? Maintain a clean driving record as much as possible. As soon as you start recording accidents and infringements, your premium will rise accordingly.
- Take your driving history with you. If you’re considering changing policies, some insurers will allow you to take your good driving record with you to your next insurer, meaning you don’t have to start from scratch and can enjoy some sweet premium savings.
- Have you ever taken a defensive driving course? Take a defensive driving course. This can be done at any age and showing your insurer that you are a safe driver can help reduce your premium.
- Who is the primary driver of your car? You might want to list a younger driver on your policy. If someone younger does the majority of driving in your car (providing they are not a higher risk than you), listing them as the primary driver may reduce your premium.
- Can you afford to increase your excess? Increase your excess if you can afford to, as this will reduce your premium.
- Are you eligible for a multi-policy discount? Package your car insurance with another policy from the same provider to receive a multi-policy discount.
- Is your no claims bonus intact? Look for a policy with a no claims bonus discount, and try to keep it intact.
- Is your seniors car insurance agreed or market value? Insure your car for market value, rather than the agreed value.
- How do you pay your premium? Pay your premium annually rather than monthly to reduce administration fees and receive a ‘bulk discount’.
- Can you receive a discount by going online? Yes. Some insurers offer discounts of up to 20% if you buy car insurance online.
In short, things that save the insurance company money, will also save you money. Being a lower risk driver means they don’t have to pay as much in claims, while things like signing up online reduces their administrative costs, which is why they’re happy to offer a discount for it.
How can you help older drivers stay safe on the road?
While it’s a delicate situation, friends and family members can help senior drivers stay safe on the road, by looking for signs they are experiencing difficulty driving. These may include:
- They are having trouble turning to see behind them when reversing
- They are easily distracted
- You experience other drivers honking their horns at them
- You notice unexplained scratches and dents on their car
- They get irritated or anxious while driving
- They drive too fast or too slow
- They wander out of their lane
- They are slow to react or fail to spot hazards
- They get lost in familiar locations
- They are involved in an accident which is partially their fault
- They rely on a passenger to give them directions
- They confuse the brake and accelerator pedals
- They fail to stop at a red light
- They have received a traffic infringement notice.
In New Zealand, all drivers at the age of 75, 80 and every two years going forward, must pass a medical examination by a doctor. They will test your eyesight and discuss your current health. The doctor can recommend, that you are fit to drive; that you need to take an on-road safety test, before you can be declared fit to drive; or they can deem you unfit (and your licence will expire on your birthday).
Are your grandchildren covered by seniors car insurance?
Can the grandkids drive your car?
- If the insurance policy lists them as a nominated driver, they are covered with similar benefits to you.
- If they are not named in the insurance policy (not a nominated driver), they are either not covered at all, or are only partially covered with lower limits and less protection. Check your insurance policy for the exact details or special conditions that may apply to your seniors car insurance.
If you plan to let your grandchildren drive your car regularly, you should list them as a driver in the insurance policy. This is more expensive if they’re under the age of 25.
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