/ Money, Motoring

Is your age driving your car insurance out of reach?

Car insurance premiums

The average UK driver can expect to be quoted around £641 for their car insurance, according to data from the AA’s British Insurance Premium Index. But how many of us are ‘average’?

If you’re between 60 and 69, that figure goes down to £389. At the other end of the spectrum (if you have the misfortune to be under 23), it spirals to a hair-raising £1,477.

Record high premiums

As is well publicised, premiums across the board are at record highs. Across the long term, the industry has blamed much of this on surging numbers of whiplash injury claims – which the government has repeatedly attempted to address, with mixed results. And more recently, a series of tax rises and legislative changes have added to the concoction, ratcheting prices up further.

Indeed, newly released data from the insurance trade body (the Association of British Insurance) suggests that not only are premiums at their highest – but the rate at which they’ve been going up over the past year is also the highest on record.

Premiums for the youngest drivers

In all of this, the biggest long term price rises have been incurred by the youngest drivers – who have seen the cheapest quotes available to them go up by £258 since the end of 2010, undoubtedly making driving an increasingly impractical choice.

Older drivers’ premiums

However, older drivers – while generally paying less – have seen the steepest proportional rises over that period. Premiums for those aged 60-69 have gone up by a third (31%) from £297 to £389. Meanwhile, for those over 70 the rise has been almost half – from £363 to £541 – or 49%. A noticeable squeeze.

Do you feel you are punished by your car insurance for your age?

Yes (85%, 780 Votes)

No (15%, 141 Votes)

Total Voters: 921

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Generally, young and older drivers are charged more than those in the middle as they’re perceived by insurers to be at a statistically greater risk of making costly claims – particularly ones involving personal injury.

What’s more, while younger drivers can at least look forward to their age working in their favour as they get older, industry data tends to suggest that once you’re in your sixties it will increasingly work against you.

Premiums in retirement

In a recent piece of Which? research (you can find more on this the August issue of Which? Magazine), we tested this by obtaining quotes for drivers of various ages (but identical in most other respects) from twelve insurers. With one of our fictitious drivers – living in the North East and driving a Ford Focus – the difference in premium the driver would pay depending on whether they were 65 or 80 was, at lowest, £164 and at highest, £528 depending on insurer.

Of course, this is one scenario – and many of us won’t fit into the ‘average’ bracket, either. What’s your experience been? Has age – young or old – proved a hurdle to you when getting affordable car insurance (and how have you dealt with that, if so), or has it been relatively smooth sailing (driving) over the years?

Comments
Guest
D W GILLIARD says:
20 July 2017

I have been driving now for over 60 years and I have had no accidents in this period at all. Every year I have an argument with the insurance companies as to why I should pay what I consider to be an exorbitant price for my good driving and the fact that we are paying for those that flout the law by driving with no insurance at all. Why should this be allowed? Talk about fairness??? It’s a joke.

Guest

In November 2016 the government said it was going to crack down on excessive whiplash claims with a view to saving drivers £40 a year on average on their motor polices. There would be a cap of £425 on the amount of any compensation, accredited medical evidence would be required in respect of any claim, and the claims limit for personal injuries through the ‘small claims’ court would be raised from £1,000 to £5,000, There were some additional procedural changes to curb the whiplash racket.

The consultation on this ended in January 2017 and the measure was expected to be introduced in April but it seems to have sunk without trace when Parliament was prorogued for the general election. A possibility is that it will take effect in October 2017. In the meantime predatory and parasitic legal firms and claims handlers continue to advertise their services and people are still extorting money under false [or unverified] pretences. When it does come to fruition this should gradually work its way into the insurance companies’ risk calculations and result in lower premiums [or a least a delay in higher premiums].

Personally, I am prepared to accept the insurance companies’ assessment that drivers in the older and younger age ranges give rise to the highest payouts. Even insurers that deliberately attract older drivers don’t seem to offer lower premiums which suggests to me that the risk balance is about right, but for every company it will depend quite heavily on the make up of their book and the ratio of good to bad risks.

Guest

Do you have evidence, or do you believe the insurance companies have evidence that us oldies are more of a risk? I suppose there is a great sadness when driving becomes impossible. Not only the joy of getting out and about, but the hassle of using public transport with its delays and timetabling. This might lead some to postpone the decision to stop driving when they should be off the road. The rest of us, are experienced and usually drive defensively to avoid trouble. I would like to see some statistics to prove that age, in itself is the cause of raised premiums. Mine have been stable up to now, but I’m not holding my breath for too long. The medical certificate (my last cost me £120) should highlight risks that might prove hazardous on the road. They are every three years. An insurance risk is a fair calculation based on statistics and analysis. If this strays into generalisations and attempts to stereotype in order to get more money then this is wrong. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of regulation to stop it happening. When older motorist vote by switching they see their choices narrow and are forced to get insured or stop driving.

Guest

No, Vynor, I don’t have any evidence but if insurers who say they specialise in insuring safer older drivers can’t offer significantly lower premiums I feel it is a fair assumption.I think one of the calculations is the amount of medical treatment required after a serious collision and for which compensation is payable. I would expect that to be higher for seniors. I think there is a deterrence effect in pricing premiums [that is, some companies have enough on their books and try to price out new business from older drivers]. Moreover, the older market might be less inclined to chop and change insurers [less so nowadays perhaps] or to haggle, so easier to charge more. But insurance is highly competitive and it’s my instinctive feeling that the insurers have got it more or less right. Like you, I should like to see some statistics to justify the position.

Guest

My own “statistics ” John -renewal -Co-op insurance up £32
on last year , considering younger guys posting on Which are up £42 on last year and complaining I dont think thats bad .

Guest

My motor insurance (including breakdown cover) with NFU Mutual has gone up from £272.55 to £295.33. I was concerned that the renewal documents had not arrived three weeks before renewal was due so I rang the company and they agreed to send renewal information by email. This did not happen, so a couple of days before going on holiday I called in at the local office, which offered a cheaper price than I had been quoted on the phone.

I generally include a friend on the policy so that they can take over driving on holiday. For many years I had cover for any driver over 25 but nowadays this is either not available or prohibitively priced. I regard it as responsible to share driving if you are tired but insurance companies see this as a greater risk.

Guest
john rakowski says:
21 July 2017

A majority of road traffic accidents are caused by young drivers. This a proven fact, punish the ones causing the problem, not the safer older drivers who drive defensively

Guest

I am not sure there is any evidence to support what you say, John. We would need to see statistics that show the number of collisions attributable to drivers of different ages per thousand kilometres travelled in order to draw such a conclusion. I wish all older drivers drove carefully. The good thing is that few of them are on the roads late at night. I am over seventy and am withdrawing from driving because I don’t think my reactions are quick enough nowadays. I also find it quite tiring and not particularly enjoyable.