Driving down insurance as you get older
The freedom that comes with driving is something many of us take for granted but for elderly motorists it can be a real lifeline.
And Bristol experts say use of a car is vital as isolation is such a big issue for older people.
However, according to a report from RIAS, the over 50s motor insurance provider, one in four Brits believe motorists should hang up their keys at age 75, 70, or even younger.
Concerns about the safety of older motorists has prompted a group of MPs to publish a report suggesting that more needs to be done to support the ageing driving population - perhaps in the form of a voluntary driving course.
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This would offer older drivers the opportunity to take a refresher course to brush up on their skills and build their confidence. After all, some people will have taken their test up to 50 years ago when the roads - and cars - were very different.
While in Bristol a voluntary course would be welcomed, statutory tests for the over 70s would be seen as discriminatory.
Mark Baker, chief executive of Age UK Bristol, said: “Isolation is such a big issue for older people so use of a car is very important to keep social contact and it would be quite damaging for older people not to be able to drive.
“Where people are able to safely drive telling them to get out of their car and use other means of transport is the wrong message. Older people need to use their cars if they are capable of doing so. I think it would be discrimination to bring in a test for the over 70s but there’s nothing wrong with a voluntary driving course. That would be a good idea.”
Sarah Howe, marketing director at RIAS, said: "This type of voluntary scheme is likely to appeal to older drivers as we know that older drivers do often recognise when the time comes that they may be putting themselves and others at risk, and they regulate their driving to maintain their independence for as long as possible."
Current regulations from the DVLA state that, once you reach 70, you need to reapply for your licence every three years. While there is no test or medical, you have to make a medical declaration which may result in the DVLA making further investigations. The new course, however, would allow people to take control and make the decision to improve their own driving so that they feel safer behind the wheel.
Insurers have welcomed the proposals, and drivers may benefit further from a reduction in their insurance premium by taking the course.
But what will the changes mean for you and what are the other ways you can bring down the cost of your premium? Here MoneySupermarket.com examines the options.
Age is but a number
The number of elderly drivers on the roads has rocketed in recent years because of the combined effect of an ageing population and wider car ownership. The AA predicts that more than 90% of men over 70 are expected to be behind the wheel by 2030.
While it is no secret that things such as our eyesight, hearing and co-ordination may get a little rusty with time, everyone ages at a different pace, so many will find it unfair that their insurance premium is higher simply because of their age.
After all, older drivers have years of experience on the roads and the AA found that more than 50% of drivers over 75 say they leave longer following distances, are more cautious, and avoid heavy traffic and long trips compared with when they were 50. A large number also avoid night driving, motorways and drive more slowly.
It is also the case that, statistically, it is young, male drivers who are most likely to be involved in a motor accident.
Yet despite this, older drivers may find it significantly more difficult to find an insurer who will give them a reasonable insurance quote or even cover them at all, simply because they fall into a higher risk bracket. But there is no reason why your age should stop you finding a competitive price on your insurance, which makes it even more important to shop around.
It also makes more sense to consider going to a specialist provider who deals specifically with older drivers, and MoneySupermarket has a channel dedicated to just this. You'll be able to look at a number of different insurance companies who will all offer car insurance for over 50s and find the best deal for your circumstances.
Consider black box technology
An increasingly popular way to keep premiums down is to consider telematics insurance. It works by a black box being fitted into your car which measures your driving performance, with your premium then being priced accordingly. It measures things such as speed, cornering and braking as well as logging the times of day you travel and the types of roads you travel on. It puts the driver back in control and means you are being charged according to the way you drive and aren't being punished with higher insurance premiums simply because of your age.
So don't despair if you are a more mature driver and worried about the price of car insurance. With a bit of time and research, you can make sure that you still get a competitive price so you can continue to enjoy the open road.