Senior Drivers: Insurance Advice and Safety Stats

By: Connie S. Teixeira, CISR ELITE

Connie is a licensed broker for all lines of insurance and has been in the industry for 38 years, 20 of them with C&S! She has been married for 40 years and has two adult daughters.

As of 2014, there were 24.4 million licensed drivers—age 70 or older—in the United States. That number represents 11 percent of the total driving public… and it’s on pace to grow.

Luckily, senior drivers are actually the safest demographic on the road.

Only 3 percent of all car crashes involve drivers age 75 and older (compared to the 18 percent of crashes that involve 35-44 year-olds). And according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers ages 60-64 have the lowest rates of property damage liability claims and collision claims per insured vehicle year.

Auto Insurance for Senior Drivers

Senior drivers with good records may be able to leverage a variety of auto insurance discounts—including low mileage discounts, paid-in-full discounts, green discounts (for electronic billing), or AAA-membership discounts. If you’re an AARP member, you might be interested in the AARP Massachusetts Auto Insurance Program from Plymouth Rock Assurance, which offers a pretty impressive list of benefits and savings opportunities (up to 20 percent off your premium!). Check with your Massachusetts insurance agency or carrier to find out if any of these options make sense for you.

Safety Training for Senior Drivers

For those who’d like to refresh their skills, organizations like AAA, AARP, and some insurance carriers offer safe driving courses—either in-person (through local sponsors) or online. Often, drivers who complete these courses will qualify for additional car insurance discounts. More importantly, research shows that training sessions can improve drivers’ “useful field of vision” (an area over which information can be extracted at a single glance). The Insurance Information Institute notes that just 10 hours of this specific training has been shown to lower participants’ crash rates.

Long-Term Driving Plans

Although the vast majority of seniors are capable, conscientious drivers, there comes a point when declining sensory skills and reaction times put seniors (and others on the road) at risk. Certain chronic conditions and medications don’t mix well with driving. Short-term memory loss is another risk factor that can cause drivers to forget directions or lose track of their parking spot. (That said, both the American Academy of Neurology and the Alzheimer’s Association agree that a diagnosis of dementia is not a sufficient indicator of driving risk.)

If you or a family member is thinking of staying in park permanently, beware of a complex transition. Making the decision to limit or quit driving is typically an emotional one. Families dealing with this issue should explore the different resources available. AARP, for example, offers a free online seminar that helps people assess their driving skills and facilitate conversations about alternative modes of transportation. With the right tools in hand, you’ll be more prepared for the logistical challenges (plans for errands, appointments, etc.) and the emotional hurdles of losing independence.

Senior License Renewal and RMV Reexaminations in Massachusetts

Massachusetts does not place an age limit on drivers. Drivers in the commonwealth can renew their license online or by mail up until age 75 (at which point, in-person renewal involving a vision test is required). In neighboring Rhode Island, 75-year-olds must begin renewing their license every two years as opposed to every five.

In between these checkpoints, concerned family members, physicians, and/or police are able to recommend an RMV reexamination. If you feel that a particular driver is unsafe, you can complete a Request for Medical Evaluation form. Following a reexamination, a hearing officer will determine if any action should be taken to limit, suspend, or revoke a person’s driving privilege. In some cases, the RMV may issue a restricted license, prohibiting the driver from driving after dark, on the highway, and/or during rush hour—depending on his or her limitations.

If you have other questions about senior drivers and insurance, please don’t hesitate to contact our team.