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5 Tips for Seniors to Get the Best Auto Insurance Rates

June 15, 2015
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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After dropping gradually as you get older, your car insurance rates will start crawling uphill after you turn 65. All that means is you have to focus a little harder on getting the best auto insurance rates.

But as a senior you have some advantages that you didn’t have when you were younger. Here are five tips to help you save on auto insurance for seniors.

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1. Take a driving class.

In most states, car insurance companies must offer discounts to seniors. In Massachusetts you get a discount just for turning age 65. In other states, though, you have to take a class to brush up on your driving skills to earn the discount. Some classes are offered in person, while many are offered online through such groups as AAA and AARP. Check with your state insurance department to see which ones are approved for getting the mandated discount.

The classes are cheap — less than $20 in many cases — and they cover lots of ground. You’ll learn about how aging and medications affect driving, how to accommodate those changes safely and how to navigate common, but challenging, driving situations.

2. Choose a car that’s cheap to insure.

Car insurance rates vary widely depending on the type of car you drive. The next time you go car shopping, get insurance quotes for the models you’re considering. Generally the cheapest cars to insure are those that don’t cost a lot to repair and replace, are driven by mostly safe, experienced drivers, and do good jobs of protecting drivers and passengers in crashes.

Make sure you get all the discounts you can from your car’s features. Many auto insurance companies offer discounts for cars equipped with anti-lock brakes and airbags.

3. Protect your car.

Besides helping you avoid a loss, anti-theft devices can score you discounts with many insurers. Technology that could save you money include alarms, disabling devices (which don’t allow the car to start if someone tries to steal it), and vehicle tracking systems such as OnStar or LoJack. Make sure to check with your insurer to see which products qualify for an insurance discount, if that’s one of your reasons for buying a device.

You don’t have to go high-tech to get a discount. Many insurance companies also offer discounts for etching the Vehicle Identification Number onto the windshield.

4. Get credit for driving less.

Recently retired? Let your insurer know. Your premium should go down if you no longer commute to a job every day.

You might also consider a usage-based insurance program, which bases premiums in part on how much and how well you drive. With Progressive’s Snapshot program, for instance, you plug a device into your car’s diagnostic port and it records when and how much you drive, as well as sudden changes in speed. You save money for low mileage and driving during the safest hours. The riskiest — and most costly — time to drive is between midnight and 4 a.m. You also save money if you minimize hard braking.

“We’ve found hard braking to be one of the most highly predictive variables for predicting future crashes,” Dave Pratt, Progressive’s general manager of usage-based insurance, said in a press statement. “We know that one of the main contributors to hard braking is tailgating, so we’re using our data to help drivers be as alert and aware as possible on the road.”

5. Shop around for coverage.

It’s a good idea to shop yearly for car insurance to compare quotes and make sure you’re still getting the best auto insurance rates. Car insurance premiums vary widely by company.

You can easily compare rates with NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool.

Barbara Marquand is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @barbaramarquand.

Image via iStock.