/ Money, Motoring

Are older drivers overcharged for their car insurance?

We’ve found that older drivers are facing much higher car insurance quotes. That must be because they’re riskier than younger motorists and make more expensive claims… right?

Our latest investigation has found that older drivers, notably 81 to 85 year olds, are actually less likely to make claims on their car insurance.

However, we found that these motorists are often faced with premium quotes 50-74% higher than those for people aged 41-45. And when older drivers do put in a claim, on average it costs just 2% more.

High quotations for older drivers

The prospect of higher than justified premium rates seems a reality for all drivers aged 61-85. In all the age groups we analysed (61-65, 66-70, 71-75, 75-80 and 81-85) the premiums quoted to us were higher than the relative risk of the drivers would seem to merit.

Insurers are currently exempt from the ban on age discrimination, but they must publish annual aggregated data on claims frequency and costs to justify charging higher premiums for certain age groups. When we spoke to the Association of British Insurers about our findings, it said:

‘Our figures on average premiums paid by those over age 80 show that they are on average 3% higher than those for 41-45 year olds, which reflects the increased claims risk older drivers represent. Obviously this is much less than the 50-74% Which? quotes and may well be because the Which? percentage range reflects what older drivers were quoted by comparison websites and not what they actually paid for their insurance cover.’

We disagree and think that there’s a clear correlation between the prices you’re quoted and the premium you end up paying.

Too old to get insurance?

Of course, older drivers also have the problem of getting car insurance in the first place. Many of the UK’s largest insurers are still imposing maximum age limits – 14 of the top 30 car insurers we looked at set the bar at aged 85 or below.

And although insurers aren’t obliged to provide cover for customers of all ages, new ‘signposting’ rules mean they should at least help you find an insurer that is prepared to cover them.

We actually found the UK’s largest insurance company, Direct Line Group, failing to do so. A spokesperson said it would be looking into this.

So, if you’re over 60, what have you had to pay to cover your car? Is it much more than what your son or daughter pays? Did you struggle to get your car insured at all?


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Maureen Purdom says:
12 October 2019

I found co-op car insurance only insure under 81 as hubby 80 insured him this year but will have to shop around next year

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I don’t know the evidence that we are secretive. Insurance is based on risk and these statistics will be a necessary part of the information they need. Putting in “road accident statistics” into Google brings up a number of UK klinks such as this, which I have not had time to look at:
Reported Road Accident Statistics – Parliament UK

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This is the content of a document provided for MPs and on the web that I referenced above. It does include age.

Reported Road Accident Statistics
Standard Note: SN/SG/2198
Last updated: 24 October 2013
Author: Matthew Keep & Tom Rutherford
Social and General Statistics Section

A. Reported road casualties by severity 2
B. Reported road casualties by road type and severity 6
C. Reported road casualties by road user type and severity 8
D. Reported road casualties by time of accident and severity 10
E. Reported road casualties by age and road user type 11
F. Breath testing among drivers involved in accidents 13
G. International comparisons of road deaths 14
H. Further Information 16

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The data provided in Parliament UK reports and statistics comes from the government. The government gets it from local highway authorities who keep detailed statistics of all fatal and personal injury incidents on UK roads including details of age and sex. The information is also shared by and with the police authorities. The statistics are used to consider where safety improvements are necessary and to help prioritise them.

A particularly significant statistic is single-vehicle incidents which are much more closely associated with young drivers. These include cases where the vehicle is out of control and in collision with an immovable object like a tree; demolishes a wall or other barrier; runs into a property; or runs off the road and turns over or falls into a ditch.

There was a terrible incident in our area recently when four teenagers lost their lives; the driver lost control at a junction and the car hit a tree; no one survived. The driver was a local ‘boy hero’ who had been driving performance vehicles for some time. Strangely, his death was seen as the most tragic; had he survived there is no doubt he would have been charged and convicted of multiple manslaughter.

Although older drivers tend to drive more carefully and tend to only drive on local roads and in the daylight, there is a worrying number of fatal collisions involving drivers over seventy and many incidents that do not cause death or injury but are extremely serious [like driving on the wrong carriageway, or mounting the footway]. Some of the older-driver incidents do unfortunately lead to the death of the driver or another road user. All the statistics feed into a risk assessment process and are weighted according to different factors.

I don’t think insurance companies are “exempt from ageism” as Toby Jug contends. Age is a relevant factor at each end of the spectrum, is useful in making insurance cover and premiums proportionate to identifiable risks, and is not an unlawful form of discrimination in this case. The alternative – a universal premium weighting – would mean a big hike for those giving rise to the least and lowest claims.

Peter Rutherford says:
22 January 2018

I am 72 and live in the 4th worst postcode area for car crime in the country (according to the ABI).
I had an accident 3 years ago, which was settled recently, when I bumped into the back of another car, in first gear, at approx 5 MPH. I did not claim for my vehicle as the damage cost only half of my £250 excess. The cost to the other party came to just short of £27676.00 (yes! £27676.00). Fraud was suspected and I was told that over half the sum was for legal expenses. It was going to court, but the insurance company “bottled out” 2 weeks before the hearing.
In addition I went on a speed awareness course last year, so I was penalised for that too.
The outcome was my insurance doubled to pennies short of £1400. (Peugeot 205 1.4ltr 2005 value £850).
When I asked if the COST of the claim had any influence on my premium, the answer was “Definitely!”.
It seems not only do we have to pay for our mistakes, but also for the ineptitude and incompetence of the insurers
To compare, my wife (77) with no fines, points or accidents, insured for the same 6000 mls/year in an identical car pays £600.

So as always, we have to take the rough with the smooth and move on.

Richard Walton says:
14 March 2018

Had a renewal from Churchill for£316 Then had to put a claim in. First in 20+years Had no claims protection. Informed them I wanted to up the mileage to 20,00 from 11,000 They sent me a revised quote ffor 17,000 miles for £525.Gone shopping.

An elderly lady friend has just had her renewal for her car insurance increased to over £1000.00 , on asking why it had gone up by so much she was told , ” now you are 86 years old we have to charge more ” ??
Surely this is blatant age discrimination by the insurance company ???

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Research by the RAC Foundation suggests drivers aged 75 and over make up 6% of all licence holders but account for just 4.3% of all deaths and serious injuries. By contrast, drivers aged 16-20 make up just 2.5% of all drivers but 13% of those killed and seriously injured.

However each insurance company will have its own policy of who it wants to insure. Some will not insure anyone over 85. They are, incidentally, exempt from age discrimination law. I’d suggest you shop around to find a company that is more favourable towards older drivers. An insurance broker might be a good place to start.

Andrew West says:
21 April 2018

I am trying to find the Best Buys in Car Insurance and all that comes up is “best way to buy car insurance”

There is obviously a fault with the system and it is a bit annoying.

Morethan charge my 89 year old father £997 per year, 5000 miles in Essex but will not consider me (his 65 year old son) as a named driver on his policy as Taxi driving is a banned profession.
Axa charge me £850 per year for commercial hire and reward insurance, 60,000 miles per year in London so obviously the premium is not affected by the risk or driving history – just market forces..

Clive says:
28 March 2021

Does anyone know of any older drivers lobby group? We need to actually start making those in parliament that ageism is a real problem. I am over 70 , and have reflexes quicker than most 30 year olds. We need to act collectively to influence parliament against this vile discrimination. Once politicians realize that they may indeed lose there seat if they do not start ending ageism we may then see some responsible change.

Clive – I support your comments on ageism but I have a feeling that older drivers are not going to declare themselves and form a motoring pressure group. There are quite a few elderly ladies and gentlemen within the Houses of Parliament.

In terms of motor insurance, I would hope the premiums and conditions are based objectively on claims experience and not on prejudice, but insurers need to have a broad spread of risks on their books so they would be reluctant to appeal especially to the over seventies. I would say that young drivers are most likely to feel penalised by the cost of insurance cover.

New technological methods of identifying and assessing risk levels in individual cases by reference to driving technique and performance should progressively change the basis of insurance to an entirely rational, objective and personal process without reference to postcode or lifestyle [although it has to be accepted that geographical factors will continue to have an influence because the kind of traffic and driving behaviour one meets on local roads is a key determinant of overall risk].

Clive – A lot of us over-seventies might have rapid reflexes mentally but the physical parts fail to react and respond with the alacrity and agility of former years. I gave up driving at 70 because I found it tiring and realised I had occasionally lost concentration.

I read somewhere today that there could be ‘graduated licences’ for older drivers in future with night time curfews and distance limits controlled by tracking devices fitted to cars that restrict them to daylight hours near their home.

I wonder if older drivers are being penalised as a result of them (as a group rather than individuals) being less likely to shop around. In part this will be due to many older drivers being more financially secure than during their working lives.

If I was over 70 and trying to persuade an insurer to offer a cheaper premium I would suggest focusing on a good record with few or no claims, lower than average mileage and so on. I suggest that Clive makes no claim about reaction times unless he has evidence. It seems improbable, though experienced drivers do have more experience of how to deal with difficult situations.

Insurance is based on risk and anything that can be done to personalise that risk would be welcome as a fair way of charging. Maybe we should have mandatory medicals, as for pilots, but I doubt our health system could cope; at the moment for the over 70s that is only necessary if you want your licence to remain valid for a minibus and a goods vehicle up to 7.5t.
However you can opt for black box insurance that monitors your driving and sets your premium, I believe. https://www.insurancefactory.co.uk/news/May-2019/Black-boxes-can-help-older-drivers-save-money-too

I think many elderly people might want to leave well alone, though, and just be pleased they can continue driving. Losing the ability to drive is a huge loss of independence.