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When it comes to auto insurance you might assume, as you become an older and more experienced driver, your premiums will decline year by year. Alas, while this is the case for most of your driving life, it isn’t true once you reach a certain age, when your rates begin to increase even if you have a clean driving history. A ValuePenguin analysis found that car insurance rates increase by 14% for drivers between the ages of 60 and 70.
In addition, senior drivers also increasingly face stiffer standards for getting or renewing their drivers’ licenses. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect as a driver when you age, from both regulators and insurers, along with some steps you can take to counter those challenges.
Insurance Increases, License Restrictions
Insurance companies consider senior drivers to be a greater risk than younger drivers, and they have data that validates those claims:
- Fatal crash rates increase steadily in drivers over the age of 60.
- At age 85, fatal crashes reach an all-time high, passing teen drivers.
- The per-mile average number of fatal accidents for drivers over 85 is 4.8 times the average for all drivers.
The increased risk of senior drivers doesn’t occur without cause. As people age, their health changes in ways that can negatively affect their ability to drive safely. Specifically:
- Vision and hearing impairments, which can reduce how well drivers see and hear the driving environment.
- Declines in reflexes or reaction times, which can affect how rapidly drivers respond to sudden changes in traffic.
- An increase in drivers’ number of medications, some of which may have side effects that affect driving ability.
Senior drivers also face scrutiny from their state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Some scenarios you may encounter (depending on your state), include:
- Being required to renew your license in person instead of online.
- Having to take a new written or behind the wheel drivers exam.
- Only being able to renew your license for a short time.
- Being required to take a vision or medical exam performed by a DMV-approved examiner.
- Restricted driving privileges (including no nighttime driving or limiting geographical locations).
- Having to comply with special vehicle requirements, like an additional side mirror or seat support.
Steps Senior Drivers Can Take
Driving is a freedom that reflects independence in the world. Minimize it or take it away and any driver may feel that independence is threatened. The good news is there are steps senior drivers can take to reduce insurance expenses and maintain their driving abilities.
- Take a safe driving course.
Thirty-five states require insurance companies to offer discounts for successful completion of a safe driving course. Contact your state insurance department to see what courses are approved for the discount.
- Maintain your insurance.
It can be tempting to temporarily cancel your insurance during a minor surgery or event that keeps you off the road. But this decision to save money in the short-term may cost you more in the long run. Canceling your insurance means you can face a rate hike, as most insurers penalize for drivers who have a gap in their insurance history.
- Update your insurance company on how frequently you drive.
Notify your insurance company if you transition from being a daily driver to a weekly driver. Some will offer a discount for retired policyholders or reduce premiums for those that drive only a few miles a week.
- Invest in a new vehicle.
Buying a new vehicle can save you money on insurance because it will almost invariably come with more security and safety features than your previous car. Some of those enhancements are now standard, or all-but-standard, on 2018 vehicles, including antilock brakes and rear-view cameras. But many others may or may not be standard, depending on the automaker or even the specific model you select; those extras include the likes of warnings of an impending collision or of leaving a lane, or actual technology that automatically keeps you safely within a lane. Some insurance companies offer special discounts for these features.
- Know your comfort level.
As you get older, your comfort level behind the wheel can change. If you start to notice anxiety while driving, identify the leading factors. Do your worries increase when driving at night, when experiencing heavy traffic or when you’re alone in the car? If so, it might be time to limit when and where you drive, to minimize the likelihood of an accident and to increase your peace of mind when you’re behind the wheel.
This content originally appeared on ValuePenguin