January 10th, 2014
It is a long-standing myth that elderly drivers and seniors pay more for car insurance. However, this is not necessarily true.
According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, people 65 and older accounted for 17 percent of all auto accidents with a traffic fatality in 2011, while the total population of seniors was just 13 percent nationwide. The number of fatal accidents among seniors declined 2 percent from 2010 to 2011. The American Medical Association found that per mile, a senior driver is nine times more likely to get in a fatal crash compared to someone between the ages of 25 and 69.
For car insurance policies, there are some advantages for seniors when it comes to monthly premiums despite the fact that it has been shown that older drivers are at a higher risk of getting into a car accident that results in injury.
There is something to be said - or at least learned - about experience. For one, many seniors tend to drive less often. Some insurance companies may base policy premiums on how frequently a car is driven. Seniors who have begun to limit how often they drive should let their car insurance company know to see if they are eligible for a premium discount.
There is also the possibility to lower monthly premiums by raising deductibles. Collision and comprehensive coverage can be expensive with low deductibles, but most people only make a collision claim every 10 years or so. For seniors with older vehicles, it may be worth it to increase the deductible in favor of a lower monthly payment.
There are a few reasons why older drivers are at a greater risk of injury on the road. As we get older, it is inevitable that certain senses may become impaired or decline in function. Vision is the most important sense used in driving. If a person begins to lose their sight, they may have a harder time seeing and understanding traffic signals and directions, which could increase their risk of getting in a car accident. Unfortunately, many people tend to lose sight with age-related ailments like cataracts and glaucoma. An increased need for more time to react to a sudden change of light and glare are also common problems among senior drivers.
Cognition is another serious consideration in terms of senior driver safety. Driving requires cognitive skills and reflexes to remain safely on the road with traffic. With age-related diseases like dementia, it may be harder for seniors to pay attention and react as quickly - putting themselves and others at risk. Most notably, motor function can slow down significantly with age. Muscle strength, endurance and flexibility are necessary for operating vehicle controls and being able to observe traffic. Age-related ailments such as arthritis can inhibit a person from being able to buckle their seatbelt, keeping their head on a swivel to view traffic or drive comfortably ad gripping the steering wheel properly.