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Why should we over 50s deserve cheaper car insurance?

In the competitive world of car insurance, there are many great deals available for the older (is over 50 'older? Surely not) motorist. Many companies offer discounts exceeding 70% for this group - why is this, and is it fair on the rest of Britain's motorists?

According to published statistics, the over 50s as a whole cover less mileage than the younger motorist - the "Sunday driver" cliche is of course quite appropriate, as this age group will include plenty of retired motorists and those less likely to burn up the miles on working trips. In addition, this group's average insurance claim is much less than a younger motorist - they seem more capable of not writing their cars off in high-speed chases or showing off to their mates. On a more serious note, this age group will also have more disposable income as a rule and hence keep their cars in better working order, leaving them less prone to accidents and insurance claims caused by poor maintenance.

The actual numbers make interesting reading: a study of more than 2 million motorists discovered than just 2% of the over 50s had been involved in an accident at that age, compared with almost 1 in 7 under 20s and 7% of all motorists - a compelling statistic. The younger age group was also five times more likely to be involved in a claim involving personal injury or a fatality. Perhaps we should stick close to the Sunday drivers then!

On the flip side, elder motorists can be affected by a number of age-related health issues - failing vision and reduced mobility, for example, don't make for great bedfellows when driving. American research has suggested that in actual fact, the incidence of crashes per mile is highest in the older group, especially above age 65. Factor in the decreased reaction times and actually there's now a good argument that driving premiums for the over 50s should be put up!

For insurance companies the message about older drivers is mixed: "safer" driving in general, smaller claims, less mileage, and better maintained vehicles versus failing vision and slower reactions. Personally I'd rather take my chances following an elder motorist in his Volvo than a boy racer in a souped-up death trap, and it seems that insurers have the same view!

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