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How to find the right car insurance for your parent

When They Get Older has teamed up with Ashley Shepherd, Managing Director of Over50choices.co.uk, to explore the murky waters of car insurance and discover how to choose the right policy for your parent.

Insurance can feel a bit like a dark art sometimes; so many grey areas, so much industry jargon. Do premiums go up or down the older you get? Is it worth claiming or will that just increase next year’s premium? Is it better to stick with one insurer in the hope of getting customer loyalty benefits or to shop around?

To help guide you through the mire of insurance gobbledygook, here are some of the main things to consider when looking at car insurance for your parent.

Time sensitive offer

There’s a tipping point with car insurance. As your parents move through their 50s and 60s, premiums should be lower as they’re deemed a safer driver (unless their driving history states otherwise!). There comes a time however when age is considered a greater risk and the tide will turn. Premiums start to increase and fewer companies will be willing to insure older drivers, particularly those over the age of 81.

If your parent has an excellent driving record it may be worth them paying a little extra to protect their no claims bonus to help reduce premiums. This can have a huge impact on future renewal costs, in some cases reducing them by up to 65% which will certainly help as prices increase with age.

Review before you renew

It’s always best to review your parent’s policy before they decide to renew with the same insurer. If your parent has retired and is now reliant on their pension, asking them the right questions about their driving habits could determine whether they drive their car enough for it to be worth reinsuring. Parents who mostly use their cars for local, short trips would benefit from a low mileage policy which often comes at a cheaper price.

Online offers

Before renewing with your parent’s current insurer it’s always worth checking online to see whether you can find a cheaper price for the same cover. Using a comparison website will give you and your parents multiple quotes in one go; you may even find a much better deal with the same insurer. If you do, contact your parent’s insurer with details of the cheaper quote as this can often result in them matching the online price.

Although insurance companies tend to favour new customers when offering discounted deals online there’s much to be said for the internet benefiting the customer. You and your parents are in a powerful position where you can compare multiple insurance deals online to shop around for the best price.

There’s no harm in asking

If your parent is being turned down for car insurance; ask the insurer to point you in the direction of a company that could help, as they have a responsibility to help consumers find an independent source of information that can offer assistance in finding affordable cover. This ‘sign-posting’ is required by The Equality Act and was agreed by the stakeholders in April 2012.

Discrimination legislation, outlined in The Equality Act, states that although car insurance companies can still rate risks according to age, they must produce statistical evidence that justifies their pricing policies. Should you, or your parent, find yourselves faced with more than a few rejections it might be worth asking insurers for this information to ensure your parent isn’t a victim of ageism.

Car categories

If you parent’s current car is too expensive to insure, has been turned down for insurance or is no longer suitable for their needs think about trading it in for a car that falls into a lower insurance category. For a full list of categories and the cars within each click here.

License and registration please

Also keep in mind that once a parent reaches 70, they’re required to renew their driving license every 3 years at which point health conditions and previous motoring offences are taken into account. This is probably a good time for you and your parent to consider the benefits of driving and the safety and cost of continuing to do.

Travelling shorter distances and avoiding driving at night can signal that your parent perhaps isn’t as confident a driver as they used to be. If they venture out less often or only when the roads are quiet and ask you to drive their car when you visit, this may be a time to reflect on the necessity of driving for your parent. It may even be a signal that it’s time for them to stop altogether.

Driving and disability

It seems like an obvious option for a parent with a disability but applying for a Blue Badge can not only ease parking space access in town centres but can also save your parent money. Should they meet the assessment criteria your parent will be exempt from paying road tax which can be factored into the running costs of their car as they get older.

However Blue Badge holders may find it particularly expensive to insure their car, especially if it’s had alterations to ensure maximum manoeuvrability for a parent. A car with extensive changes from its original specifications will most likely raise your parent’s premium considerably.

If you parent has recently had alterations made to their car it’s best to inform their insurer sooner rather than later. Their current policy could be deemed void should your parent make a claim without telling their insurer about the changes prior to the incident.

If your parent cannot afford to insure a car with mobility alterations The Motability Scheme may be able to help. The scheme leases new cars to people with disabilities dependent on the type of mobility living allowance they’re receiving from the government (such as DLA or PIP).

No insurance, no car

If a parent’s driving license is withdrawn, they’re refused insurance or their insurance becomes too expensive to renew getting from A to B can suddenly become problematic. The idea of applying for an older person’s bus pass may be met with disdain by your parent but it’s useful for short trips at a lesser price.

For longer journeys a senior railcard may be a better solution for those whose family live further away. From experience applying online for a railcard is best as it arrives through the post in credit card form whereas station-bought railcards are 2-part paper tickets that can be easily lost or confused for used tickets and discarded.

Quick tips to make choosing car insurance for your parent that little bit easier:

  • Shop around and compare plans every year. Don’t assume an existing insurer will offer the best price. More often than not, they won’t!
  • Always look at online prices as they can be much cheaper than buying over the phone, even with the same company
  • Remember that the cheapest deal may not be the best value for money as some insurers leave out important clauses from their cheaper policies such as free, 24 hour breakdown cover. Read thoroughly before making a definite decision!
  • If you and your parent are having trouble finding suitable car insurance at the right price the British Insurance Brokers Association may be able to help. Call them on 0870 950 1790.

Over50choices.co.uk is a personal finance comparison website for the over 50s authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The Over50choices team take an honest approach to explaining insurance and seek to make life simpler for those of us who just don’t get industry jargon! For more information contact Ashley on [email protected].

Thank you to Ashley who has kindly shared his expertise with When They Get Older in order to advise us all on the mysteries of car insurance.

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