Even if you don’t have any accidents or moving violations your auto insurance rates will likely begin to creep up after your 60th birthday. This is because older adults are more likely than middle-aged ones to be involved in traffic accidents. The good news is that there are lots of steps you can take to make sure you are getting the best possible rates on your car insurance.
1. Call your current insurance company
Before going to the trouble of shopping around and moving your policy, why not call your current company and find out if they can offer you any additional discounts? Companies generally want to keep their current clients satisfied and will make an effort to help you feel like you are getting a fair deal. Possible discounts to inquire about include “safe driver,” multi-policy, multiple vehicles, low mileage, auto-renewal, prepaying for your entire policy period (instead of monthly or bi-monthly) and having or installing safety and anti-theft features installed in your car.
2. Be a safe driver
Being a safe driver can earn you solid discounts on your auto insurance policy. To qualify as a “safe driver” usually means not having any moving violations of at fault accidents in the past 3 years. If you do receive a moving violation to keep your record clean you may be able to get the points removed from your record by attending traffic school. If you want to maintain your safe driving record it is almost important for you to consider how you engage with technology behind the wheel. Research shows nearly 60% of older adults report using their mobile phones in some capacity while driving and 25% reported engaging in these behaviors while a minor under 11 was in the car. As smartphone usage has increased, distracted driving has led to increased accidents and fatalities on the road. Not using your phone while driving can help reduce your insurance rates and save a life.
3. Take a driving class
Most states require insurance companies to offer a discount to 65+ adults who take a driving class. These classes are generally inexpensive—some $20 or less—and only take a few hours to complete. Your class will cover information useful to older drivers such as how to compensate for slower reflexes and how medications you are taking can impact your driving skills. They will also give you a refresher on current traffic laws. You can often choose to take these courses in-person or online. Taking a defensive driving class can help sharpen your driving skills, give you the peace of mind that you have done all you can to be a safe driver and lower your insurance rates.
4. Drop unnecessary coverage
It’s a good idea to evaluate your coverage every couple of years as your needs and lifestyle may have changed. Optional benefits that may have been useful at one point may not make current financial sense. For example, if you are no longer commuting for work you might not need rental car coverage for when your car is being repaired. Also, if your car is more than a few years old or paid off you probably no longer need “gap coverage” which pays the difference between the car’s worth and what you owe on the loan should the car be totaled. If your car is paid off and the fair market value is less than 10 times the cost of your annual comprehensive coverage premium, you may consider dropping this coverage and putting this money toward an emergency fund instead.
5. Choose a safer, less expensive car
The make and model of the car you are insuring plays an important role in how much you will be paying for auto insurance. In general cars with less expensive components and more safety features will be cheaper to ensure them more valuable, performance oriented cars. In a nutshell, a family sedan will cost less to insure than a Ferrari and older cars are cheaper to ensure than newer cars.
6. Find out how to protect your car
Car insurance companies often offer discounts for installing or purchasing a car with certain safety features. You may be able to get a discount for driving a car with airbags and anti-lock brakes and other security features like anti-theft and engine cut-off systems. You may also qualify for a discount if you park your car in a garage, as that lowers the risk of theft and accidents.
7. Evaluate your driving habits
Most auto insurance rates are partly based on an estimate of how many miles you drive annually. If you are driving less due to retirement, COVID-19 restrictions or any other reason you may be able to get your insurance premiums reduced. Some companies even offer “telematics” which are monitoring devices that are installed in cars. These devices monitor driving habits including how often and far you drive and if you engage in risky driving behavior, such as rapid breaking, speeding or driving late at night. If you are willing to use one of these devices you may be able to earn a discount based on your reported safe driving data and reduced mileage.
8. Raise your deductible
The deductible is the amount you will pay to repair your vehicle, before your insurance covers the remaining amount. If you are driving less and have a good amount of savings you may be comfortable raising the deductible on your policy. Having a higher deductible can lower your monthly premiums substantially, but will require you to pay more to have your car repaired should an accident occur. Car insurance deductibles commonly range from $0 to $1,500.