As drivers age, it’s important that they sit down with their families and medical providers to discuss safe habits on the road.
When insurance agents talk to prospects and clients about an auto policy, they emphasize premiums and coverage options — as they should. For senior citizen clients, however, they should consider discussing safety on the road as well.
Ultimately, the possibility of “driving retirement” is difficult for seniors to accept, in part because it could mean a loss of independence and mobility. Yet according to a report from AAA, it’s an important conversation many seniors should be having with their families and physicians — and that many currently haven’t.
After interviewing 2,990 drivers between the ages of 65 and 79 in five states, AAA’s Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) study revealed nearly 83% had never mentioned driving safety issues with relatives or a medical professional. Many respondents who did broach the subject pointed to an incident on the road that led to the discussion.
Instead of waiting for an accident, family members, doctors, and yes, even, insurance agents must initiate the conversation now to ensure their clients stay safe on the road.
Of those who had the conversation, 14% spoke to a family member, while 5.5% talked to a physician. When asked what prompted them to speak to a family member or doctor about driving safety, 65% said they experienced problems on the road, such as falling asleep or being unable to remain in the same lane. For 22%, it was due to health issues, and 15% disclosed they had been involved in an accident or had been slapped with a driving infraction. Planning for the future was cited by 7%.
Older seniors between 75 and 79 seemed more open to bringing up the matter with a doctor or relative, with 17.5% saying they had started the chat, compared to 13.2% of younger seniors. More men (15.9%) reported having the conversation than women (12.8%).
Only 2.2% of the AAA study participants related that someone recommended in the past year they curtail their auto use. Unfortunately, more than 200,000 drivers age 65 and older sustained injuries in a crash in 2016.
The organization estimates older drivers stay on the road an average of seven to 10 years beyond their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle — making it imperative to have the conversation as early as possible so seniors may take measures to ensure they maintain good driving habits.
What Agents Can Do
Whether or not to give up car keys is a personal decision that can only be made by your clients, their families, and medical advisors. For your senior clients who decide to continue driving, you can guide them to affordable coverage options while discussing the latest safety innovations that will improve their driving skills.
For example, many insurers offer telematic devices that monitor driving behaviors. These small gadgets alert drivers if they are speeding or braking too sharply. (An added bonus: if seniors drivers avoid those habits, their rates will do down.) Newer cars also come outfitted with technology that warns drivers if they have drifted into the wrong lane or are about to hit another vehicles. Innovations like these can help your senior clients avert accidents.Senior drivers may also get a break on their rates if they take a defensive driving course. The Hartford’s AARP auto insurance policy gives a 3% discount for completing the instruction. For those aged drivers who rarely drive, a pay-per-usage car insurance policy may suit their needs and reduce their auto insurance costs.