Seniors can earn auto insurance discounts by taking driver's ed courses

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Stephanie Taylor Christensen

As more baby boomers reach retirement age, seniors are keeping driver's licenses longer and logging more miles than they have in the past, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). By taking a driver safety course, seniors can brush up on behind-the-wheel techniques that may help prevent accidents before they happen. Moreover, such courses can lead to auto insurance discounts.

The need for a refresher course

Because of their experience behind the wheel, insurance for older drivers with good records generally costs far less than insurance for younger drivers. Unfortunately, fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and increase significantly after age 80, according to IIHS.

These fatality rates are blamed partly on physical fragility, which makes senior drivers more susceptible to fatal injuries. But decreased vision, delayed reaction times, decreased cognitive abilities and serious medical conditions also are at fault, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). These issues could pose an increasing danger to all drivers, as the GAO predicts the number of drivers over age 65 will double by 2030.

Course options

The first and largest program for seniors is the AARP Driver Safety Program. For a nominal cost, it is offered to drivers age 50 and older and can be completed in a classroom or online. The course will refresh a driver's knowledge of traffic rules, teach defensive driving techniques, and suggest ways to handle things like left turns, lane changes and blind spots. It also educates seniors about the effects of certain medications on driving.

AARP reports that laws in 36 states mandate that auto insurance discounts be offered to drivers who have completed a state-approved driver improvement course (like AARP's) in the classroom. Nineteen states require auto insurance companies to offer insurance discounts to those who take such courses online.

If your state is not among those listed, your insurer still may offer a discount for having completed a course, according to AARP. Contact your auto insurance company for details.

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