by Marilyn Katz
Why Are Seniors High Risk Drivers?
Older drivers probably have a lot of good things going for them. They have lots of experience behind the wheel, and they should be mature decision makers. This is mostly true for older drivers in their 50′s and 60′s, and they may be considered good risks by insurers. However, as people start to age into their 70′s and 80′s, some of these positives may be offset by health issues of aging.
Car insurance for seniors starts to get more expensive. Some insurers will refuse coverage to any driver over 80. While others still write policies up to age 99, rates can rise. I use the example of insurers increasing risk because these are the companies who closely monitor accidents and claims. Since older people may start tending to have more accidents and more medical claims when they do have accidents, they are considered a riskier group to insure.
It is helpful to compare senior drivers to teen drivers. While your 18 year old son or daughter lacks experience and, possibly maturity, he or she probably has strong limbs, fast reflexes, and good vision. Seniors may start to lose some function because of age and infirmity. While teens and young adults should mature into better drivers, seniors may not be able to expect an increase in function.
Warning Signs That Seniors Should Not Drive
Some warning signs are obvious, but some can be much more subtle at the beginning. However, if you are caring for an older person, it is important to notice early warning signs so you can avert worse problems or tragedies.
- Is a senior driver having more problems finding their way on unfamiliar streets, obeying traffic signs and rules, or even reacting to other traffic? This can be an early sign that some mental or physical health issues are putting them at risk behind the wheel.
- Have you found unexplained dents in the car or evidence of traffic tickets or warnings? Almost all of us have put a dent in our vehicles or had a traffic stop. But an increasing pattern can be a sure signal of problems.
- A loss of muscle strength or the pain of age related conditions like arthritis may make it harder to respond to traffic conditions too.
How To Help A Risky Senior Driver
There are some steps that any concerned care giver should take to help a senior driver. Ignoring the problem will not make it vanish, and will probably just make it worse.
- Maybe a senior driving or defensive driving refresher course will help with some problems. You can find senior driving courses in your community, or you may look for them at the websites of national organizations that cater to drivers or older people.
- If you need to take away the keys, you can also find resources to help you do that. It is not easy to confront an older person about their driving, so rely on some support to get started.
- Look for alternative transportation to ease the transition. Many communities have busses or cheaper taxi services for senior citizens. Some Medicare health plans provide transportation to health appointments. You can also find senior living communities which have a bus to transport residents to shopping centers and doctors.
Are All Seniors At Risk?
People age differently. Some 80 year olds are still very good drivers, and these days, many of these older people still commute to work!
But even a fit senior citizen may have to pay more for car insurance because that high risk label insurers will place on the age group. There are ways to counter this by looking for discounts that seniors may qualify for. For example, if the senior only uses the car for trips to the doctor or grocery store, they may qualify for a low mileage discount.
Are You Concerned About A Senior Driver?
We have more resources, including symptoms of the time to stop senior driving and links to videos on how to speak with an older person about their driving: When To Stop Senior Driving
If you are 51 or 81, learn more about Over 50s Car Insurance
About the author:
I spent 20 years as a computer systems engineer before making the switch into the insurance industry. As the internet was beginning to bloom then, I built a website to support that business plus generate freelance computer work. I found that the merging of my computer skills and insurance knowledge was the perfect path for me. Now I am a full time webmaster and affiliate marketer.
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