I have a friend who told me recently that the best thing about getting up there in years is the assumption of wisdom people attribute to us, the finely-aged. Age-bringing-wisdom sounds good to me so I certainly won’t be disputing that particular assumption any time soon. Especially because sometimes that kind of thinking is worth more than the joy it brings us when we get to tell younger people The Way Things Are; sometimes it has practical benefits- like saving you money. Car insurance is a perfect example. For the particulars, read on.
Things Everybody Should Do
Some of the most pragmatic money-saving solutions are more universally-applicable than age-specific.
· Shop Around. Doing research to determine the best car insurance for you seems like a no-brainer, right? But sometimes people are swayed by the convenience of provider’s enrollment process or by the impressiveness of a talking gecko, streak-haired woman with a price gun, etc. Age has also given us patience, or so they say, so look around a little bit. There are a number of good search tools and smart-device apps that can aid you in your search.
- Don’t be Insurance-Complacent. I can’t count the number of times on the job I’d talk to people who stuck with terrible auto insurance coverage for years because that was the insurance they’d always had, and/or that their parents, friends, siblings, whomever had had. Even (perhaps especially) if you have insurance and have had the same policy for years, it can’t hurt to do some comparison browsing.
- Prevention and Preparation. If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, a nickel of insurance is worth a dollar of out-of-pocket. Go over your insurance package, even if it’s one you’re content with, and look over your coverage choices. Do you have rental insurance? It’s almost never worthwhile, particularly if you don’t plan to rent a car. Do you have towing insurance? That can come in handy but if you’re also a member of AAA, can change a tire in a flash and you keep your vehicle in tip-top shape- in the event of a crash, towing is almost always covered anyway.
- Request a Higher Deductible. This one can be a gamble but the higher your deductible, the less you pay a month. Of course, if you do have to file a claim, you initial out-of-pocket is more. But that can pay for itself pretty easily if you go ten years without a crash and have paid in less each month for you insurance.
Consider Using Pay As You Drive Coverage
Depending on your driving habits, looking into a pay as you drive (PAYD) policy, also known as “pay as you drive”, can save you a good deal of cash. Since (some of) us older folk have slowed down a bit and (some of us) probably won’t be cruising the main, bar-hopping, drag-racing or in some cases, not driving to work every day. Some PAYD policies not only lower your monthly rate the less you drive, it also tracks driving habits with an internal driving-habit-recording doohickey. If you don’t drive all that often and/or drive carefully when you are out and about- PAYD might be for you.
The Senior Discount and the Less-Known Insurers
Those earlier-mentioned huge insurance houses with their anthropomorphic geckos and disaster-personified spokespeople and whatnot have a huge share of the market. They’ve also gotten some bad press recently for their customer service and rather calculated, sometimes outright cruel-seeming habit of doing what it takes to pay as little as it takes. Some of that is just the nature of the beast- when you're one of the top three huge with millions of clients between you, it’s hard to pay attention to the needs of that many people.
That’s good for you though because some of the well-established but lesser-thought of insurers have responded by appealing to more niche markets… like us! I’ll give you an example: although The Hartford isn’t exactly an unknown insurance house, they’re not often thought of for auto policies. However, they consistently rank as one of the top providers. In 2012 they topped JD Power and Associate best car insurance provider list and came in at number three on MSN Money’s ranking, plus ranked among the top five on virtually every other list of the kind. Most often cited was their pricing and the helpfulness and amiability of customer service people.
What’s most relevant to us though is their teaming up with the organization previously known as the American Association of Retired Persons to provide hybrid AARP insurance. Again, that’s just one example but feel free to look into this stuff yourself if you’re interested in keeping more cash in your pocket for expensive meals at great restaurants and fine wine… er… and by that, of course I mean Lawrence Welk albums Matlock DVDs.