5 Ways Seniors Can Lower Their Car Insurance Rates

Car insurance rates are based on a variety of factors such as your driving record, how much you drive and the car you drive, but insurance companies also base their premiums on your age. Rates for new drivers in their teens and early 20s are highest; rates tend to be lower for drivers in their 40s, 50s and early 60s and then begin to climb again starting at age 70.

A recent survey on CarInsurance.com showed that the average insurance quote for a 21-year-old was $2,124, while the average for someone age 60 to 64 was $1,159. The average quote for someone 80 to 84 was $1,381.

"The sweet spot for car insurance rates is in your 40s to your 60s," says Penny Gusner, a consumer analyst for CarInsurance.com. "In your 60s you tend to drive less and you're more mature, but by your 70s your vision may be lacking and your ability to react may have slowed."

Why seniors pay more for car insurance

Insurance rates are based on the risk of paying a claim, so young drivers, who tend to have more frequent accidents, pay more. Studies on older drivers show that some physical ailments such as arthritis impair their driving ability and that age-related declines in cognitive functioning can also impact their driving.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, per mile traveled, crash rates and fatal crash rates begin to increase at about age 70.

Gusner says that older drivers are more likely to be injured in an accident and, if injured, their injuries are likely to be more severe because they may already be physically weaker than a younger driver.

According to TRIP, a national transportation research group, in 2010, there were 5,750 fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver 65 or older. While drivers 65 and older account for just 8 percent of all miles driven, they comprise 17 percent of all traffic fatalities, TRIP says. (See: " Avoid the silver tsunami wipeout: Helping older parents drive safely.")

Gusner also says that many older drivers have smaller cars because they don't have children and often drive only short distances, but a smaller car can sustain more damage in an accident.