insurance

Car insurance discounts for older drivers

As drivers get older, their car insurance premiums rise because they tend to be involved in more accidents.

Drivers age 65 and older remain the second riskiest group to insure, accounting for more accidents per mile driven than any other group except teens. And the highest increase in crash fatalities over the 10-year period from 1996 to 2005 was in the 51- to 55-year-old age group, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.

To help drivers keep skills sharp and accidents and premiums down, most car insurance companies offer auto policy discounts or premium reductions for those who complete adult driver safety programs.

Those who've completed the online Mature Driver Course from IDriveSafely.com saved on average from 2 percent to 15 percent on their car insurance premiums.

What do the programs cover?

Many car insurance firms use adult-focused safe driving programs developed by AARP, AAA, the National Safety Council or the United Safety Council. Classroom and online defensive driving courses are available. They cover basic and advanced driving techniques, but they also focus on adapting to aging reflexes, reaction time and vision. They also address the issue of whether you are still capable of driving, according to websites for these organizations.

Check with your insurance provider to find which program qualifies for their premium discount and whether they offer a voucher or discount to pay for the cost of the program.

Who is eligible?

The discounts aren't available in all states, but 36 states and the District of Columbia make it mandatory for car insurance companies to offer discounts for consumers completing a state-approved, driver-improvement course in the classroom. Another 10 states require insurers to offer discounts for online courses, according to AARP.

For the complete list by state and course type, visit AARP.org. In states without mandatory rate reduction requirements, some insurers voluntarily offer discounts for completing driving programs.

To participate and get the rate reduction, drivers often must be 50 years of age or older. Drivers who complete these programs receive a discount of up to 10 percent in many states, with some car insurance firms in states like New Mexico offer discounts as high as 20 percent.

For more on how to drive safely as you get older, visit AARP.org or the "older driver" section of the NHTSA.gov.

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