Why women over sixty shouldn’t pay more for car insurance

car insuranceConsumer watch-dog Which? recently revealed that most of the major insurance companies charge mature ladies more for car insurance than gentlemen of the same age. They put this down to the statistics. The numbers show that until the age of 60 women are safer drivers but after that age the number of cover claims by women is higher than the number being made by men.

It’s commonly thought that women are better drivers, especially under the age of 25, and last week we reported on how the European Court of Justice are looking to bring in a law that would force gender equality on insurance firms. This would mean that young men, who on average make more claims than young women, would pay exactly the same amount on their car insurance.

It all seems fair on the surface, but wouldn’t the proposed system penalise a group that is obviously driving better? In fact over 80% of readers who took our poll thought that gender should be a deciding factor.

Are increasing cover costs for pensioners fair?

Those living on pensions aren’t always in the best financial position, but by having a car they’re able to access important services like shops, hospitals and visit their friends and family. Potentially having to pay higher premiums than their husbands could put off female drivers.

So by bringing in a new law to treat men and women equally, perhaps women will be incentivised by fairer premiums to keep driving throughout their later years and improve the stats.

If you have a parent or family member who is over 60 that you want to encourage to stay on the road, there are a few things they need to consider to stay safe.

Driving into your old age

After the age of 70, people have to sign for a new driving licence every 3 years. This gives them opportunity to admit to any relevant health issues. But worryingly after signing a medical self-declaration certificate they’re good to go, so health problems they may have played down aren’t picked up until after an accident happens.

Older people tend to have slower reactions, worse sight and hearing. It is also vital that your sight is intact for driving. The DVLA requires drivers to read a registration plate from 20m away in good light. They may also be legally required to wear prescription glasses. As we grow older there’s also more chance of developing cataracts, requiring a pacemaker for a heart-condition, or becoming a diabetes or dementia sufferer. Depending on the individual circumstances these conditions may legally prevent them driving, so it’s best to check with a health-care professional.

Some councils are targeting older people to check that their driving skills are still top notch.  In 2007 Powys Council ran a pilot trial for over-55s. This gave them a refresher, driving test. Far from the usual strict test conditions the free assessment would be a chance for any problems to be discussed in private.

Since then many councils have been running similar schemes like the Safer Driving with Age (SAGE) project in Gloucestershire. This includes a one hour assessed drive.

If you are worried about the driving of a family member it may be useful to discuss a refresher course with them. Alternatively let them know that you would help to support them if they decided to give up driving altogether.

Policy Expert

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