Young drivers typically see their car insurance costs drop as they gain experience behind the wheel, but when they become senior citizens, their rates may begin to rise again.
This happens because the risk of paying out claims increases for insured motorists as they age, says Carol Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
The frequency of crashes for drivers starts increasing at about age 70, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). As eyesight, hearing, and reflexes decline, some insurance companies have found that policyholders as more likely to be involved in traffic accidents, or more prone to injury in a fender bender. Walker says each carrier has a different approach to insuring older drivers, however.
“There are different [age] thresholds for companies,” she adds. “Part of the issue is that older drivers are injured more frequently in crashes. They are more frail.”
You can’t help aging, but there are things you can do to keep your car insurance rates low. Here are six examples:
1. Ask about low-mileage discounts.
The less you drive, the less likely you are to be involved in a traffic accident, Walker says. If you retire from your job and no longer drive to work, the number of miles you log on the road each year should drop significantly — so ask about low-mileage discounts.
“If you’re not driving to and from work, your car will be classified as pleasure use,” says Kevin M. Lynch, an assistant professor of insurance at the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “That will lower your rates.”
2. Use anti-theft devices.
Lynch says you can often reduce your car insurance bill by using anti-theft devices that help track stolen vehicles, such as OnStar and LoJack. You also may save money if you have a vehicle alarm system.
Ask your insurance agent which security devices will earn you a discount.
3. Consult with your insurance agent before you buy a car.
The car of your dreams may not be the least expensive vehicle to insure, says Lynch. Carriers consider a variety of factors when setting rates, such as the cost of repairing and replacing your vehicle.
Typically, the more expensive a car is, the costlier it will be to insure. Also, if the model you choose is a popular target for thieves, that could affect your rates.
4. Use technology to reduce your bill.
Lynch notes that some insurance companies use technology to tie rates to your actual driving behavior. Telematics devices monitor such things as how far you drive, your driving speed, and how smoothly you apply your brakes.
“They know where you go,” says Lynch. “They know if you’re speeding. If you’re a safe driver, you get better rates.” Ask your agent if your insurance company offers discounts for using a monitoring device in your car.
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5. Consider taking a defensive driving course.
Some insurance companies will reduce your insurance rates if you successfully complete a defensive driving course, says Jim Armitage, an insurance agent in Arroyo, Calif.
Such classes are available through a variety of organizations and private schools. Before you sign up for such a class, call your insurance company to make sure that the course you’re taking will result in lower car insurance rates, he adds.
6. Shop around for the best price.
Lynch says not all insurers consider older drivers a greater risk. Drivers age 70 and older are a growing segment of the car insurance market. In the U.S., this group rose 38% between 1997 and 2014, according to the IIHS.
If your insurance rates go up, you can shop around to see if another carrier can offer you a better deal, says Lynch. Car insurance is a very competitive industry, so there’s a good chance you’ll find a cheaper policy.
When older drivers are unhappy with their auto policy rates, “the best advice I can give is to shop companies,” Lynch says.