Over 50? Safe Driver Course Can Save Your Money and Your Life
The state of Texas, like other states, offers a car insurance discount for seniors (55 and older) who take a driver safety course, such as those offered online and in classrooms by AARP. Once you pass the class, you get a certificate to give to your insurer. The discount is good for three years, after which you must take a class again.
Why do insurance companies reward older drivers—many of whom have been driving safely for decades—for taking a refresher course? Typically, according to insurance.com, auto insurance rates decline as drivers move into middle age, thanks to years of driving experience and loyalty discounts. Senior citizens, however, can expect to pay more for car insurance, because insurance rates are determined in part by the entire group to which you belong, not just your own driving record.
Senior drivers as a group are more accident-prone than younger drivers, due to age-related changes in hearing or vision, slower reflexes, health conditions and medications. Unfortunately, drivers 70 and older experience much higher rates of intersection-related accidents and fatalities than younger drivers, according to data analyzed by the National Transportation and Safety Bureau (NTSB) and National Automotive Sampling System (NASS).
Texas drivers 79 years of age or older are generally required to renew their license in person at a local Dept. of Transportation (DOT) office. Drivers over 85 years of age can renew only for a 2-year period. In addition to taking a vision test you may be asked to take a written test as well. Texas also allows you to renew the license online. When a family member, physical or emergency medical technician, or peace officer refers an individual senior driver, a DOT reexamination may be required. The reexamination involves an interview, and possibly also a vision test, written test, and/or a driving test. Many older drivers choose to brush up their skills for the tests through a driver’s education program or driving school for seniors.
As a Hartford spokesman told USA Today, “We recommend taking a defensive driving course because in addition to the discount you may earn, improved driving skills may lead to fewer accidents in the future, helping to keep your auto insurance premiums down.”
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