Seniors car insurance comparison checklist
As an older driver you’d be forgiven for thinking that after decades of safe driving, you’d be rewarded with dwindling car insurance premiums that free up your hard-earned retirement funds to make the most of your golden years.
But if you’re not careful, your car insurance policy could actually end up costing you more. The reality is that, when you’re over the age of 60, insurance providers are forced to take into account slower reaction times and more complicated health issues, resulting in higher premiums for Aussie seniors.
Here at Mozo, we think that Aussie seniors should be rewarded for their wealth of driving wisdom with a cheap, comprehensive car insurance policy that perfectly suits their lifestyle, which is likely to be a whole lot different than when they were younger. If you’re of the same mind as us, get the answers to these five critical questions before you start shopping around for your next car insurance policy as a senior.
Am I legally able to drive?
First things first, when you’re on the hunt for a new car insurance policy as a senior, you’ll need to find out what the laws are around elderly drivers in your particular state. These are subject to change at any time so it is important to check your state government’s transport laws before getting behind the wheel, but at the time of writing here are some of laws based on your state.
New South Wales
If you’re between the ages of 75 and 84 you’ll have to pass a medical review each year to continue driving. But once you hit 85, if you would like to keep an unrestricted licence, you will need to pass not only your yearly medical review, but also a practical driving assessment every second year.
Drivers over the age of 75 must carry with them a ‘Medical Certificate for Motor Vehicle Driver’ that needs to be renewed every 12 months.
Victorian seniors are just required to renew their licence every three years but are also asked to continually self-assess their physical wellbeing and make judgements on whether or not they should be behind the wheel.
Once you reach the ripe old age of 80 you’ll have to pass a medical review on a yearly basis to keep your licence.
If you live in any of these three Aussie states or territories you’ll just have to pass a relatively straightforward medical exam when you go in to renew your licence.
What are my car insurance options?
You passed your medical review or driving assessment and now you’re ready to start comparing a range of car insurance policies - but where to start? We know that you’ve been around the Aussie car insurance game for awhile but there is never a bad time for a quick refresher on the levels of cover available to you and why they may or may not suit your current situation.
Compulsory third party (CTP)
Not necessarily an option, this level of cover is compulsory in all Aussie states and covers you for injury or death you might cause to others while on the road. Depending on where you live, this entry-level of cover might be tied into your car registration fees but in some states and territories you’re actually able to shop around for the best deal.
Third party property
The first of your actually optional options, third party property cover is seen as the intermediate level of cover provided by insurers in Australia. Under a third party property car insurance policy, the costs to repair or replace any damaged property that doesn’t belong to you will be covered in the event of an at-fault accident but could be capped. A cheaper alternative to full blown, comprehensive car insurance, this level of cover won’t be able to help out with any of the costs in repairing your own set of wheels, however. For this reason, seniors often steer clear of this level of cover and opt for a cheap comprehensive policy that will minimise the risk of a big, out-of-pocket expense that hasn’t been budgeted for.
Third party property, fire and theft
An extension of third party property, fire and theft cover provides all the benefits of its predecessor's with the added peace of mind that comes with knowing that if your car is torched or stolen, you’re also covered.
Welcome to the most comfy level of cover. Comprehensive car insurance policies will have your back for a range of events including things like a storm, fire, on-road accident and if your car is vandalised. This level of insurance also comes with generous monetary caps for things like personal property or trailer cover and little luxuries like having the freedom to choose your own excess and repairer should something go wrong.
Generally speaking, this level of a cover is what most seniors opt for. Not only have they likely had this level of cover throughout their many years on the road, comprehensive car insurance also eliminates the chance you’ll have a large, unpayable sum to fork out if your car is damaged. While there may be some breathing room in your budget, the last thing you need is to have thousands of dollars worth of damage to pay for out of your own pocket while on the pension.
Are senior-specific insurance providers worth it?
If you’ve had a quick look around the internet, you’ve probably come across some specialist insurance providers that advertise themselves as senior-centric insurers. Two of the most popular examples of this in the Aussie car insurance market are APIA and Seniors Car Insurance Australia. APIA, for instance, markets itself as the insurer for over 50’s offering cheaper premiums for pensioners and even picked itself up an Experts Choice Award for Exceptional Quality in 2017. Seniors Car Insurance Australia, too, offers its elderly customers the chance to nab a cheaper deal on their car insurance and choose exactly which features you’d like as part of your policy.
Whether or not a senior-specific insurance providers is the right choice for you depends on your specific situation and therefore, we’d recommend you grab personalised quotes from a range of providers (both specialist and more general) and compare them. Of course, the added benefit is that, when it comes to making a claim, you’ll be dealing with people that know your lifestyle and personal situation a little better than a general car insurance provider.
What discounts should I look for when comparing policies?
Discounts are one of the best ways to drive down your car insurance premium, no matter who you are. But if you’re a senior or pensioner there a few discounts in particular that you should be keeping an eye out for when shopping around for you next policy.
Discounts exist in the market for seniors or pensioners who can demonstrate a good driving record.
Don’t let your grandchildren have all of the online fun. Seniors, like many Aussies, are able to nab a discount on their car insurance premium simply by taking out a policy online rather than in-branch or over the phone.
No claims bonus
Years and years on the road has afforded you the opportunity to build up quite the no claims bonus which is perhaps the most popular way to slash car insurance costs. The good news is that your claimless years are transferable between providers, so don’t be afraid to shop them around.
Drive less discount
Your days of driving to work and back five times a week or shuttling the kids to and from school are over so you might be driving a lot less nowadays - why not save some money on your car insurance premium by restricting your mileage.
For years your children have leached off you, but now it’s your turn to get a little something back. If your children or partner has a policy with a particular provider, it is worth seeing what kind of discount is available to you for going with that same insurer.
Should I agree a value for my car as a senior?
Another important question you might have as a senior comparing various car insurance policies is whether it is worth agreeing a value for your car or just opting for the market valuation that is usually the norm. Coming to an agreed value with your insurer ensures that you’ll get a fixed, predetermined sum of money for your prized possession should it be written off. Comparatively, choosing a market valuation means you’ll be paid whatever a car of the same make and model and similar mileage would have fetched on the open market at the time of the accident.
But which should you opt for? While coming to an agreed value for your car may result in a bump in your premium (and not all providers give you this option) it is a good choice for pensioners or seniors who now have a restricted income and value the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly how much money they’ll have to replace their recently written off vehicle should the worst happen.
If you think you’re ready to head to the market, you can compare a range of senior suitable comprehensive policies using Mozo’s car insurance comparison table or head to our guides hub for a range of other useful car insurance information.