Don't pay needlessly high auto insurance rates

Stretching Boomers Auto Insurance Dollars

by John Pirro

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Auto insurance is an expense that applies to just about anyone who wishes to drive a car, so why not make sure the cost is as affordable as it can be? If you're nearing retirement age, you probably don't want to spend a large part of your savings on premiums for auto coverage. Fortunately for older drivers, there are state-mandated discounts for completing a state-recognized driving course.

For example, Montana law requires auto insurance companies to give a discounted premium to motorists 55 years of age or older if they have successfully completed an approved course. The following three courses are listed specifically on the state's website:

  • American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Defensive Driving Program
  • Montana DR.I.V.E. Advanced Driver Education
  • Rocky Mountain Driver Training Program, Helena

According to the AARP website, 34 states require car insurance discounts to be given for completing a classroom-based, state-approved driving course. Some states (21 according to AARP) approve of Internet-based courses, which makes taking the class and getting the discount pretty convenient.

Check with your state or contact your current insurer to see if these auto insurance discounts apply to you.

Consider the Course, Discount or Not

There are many benefits of taking classes and really no downside. If you're over the age of 50, then the car you are driving is probably much different than the one you first learned to drive with.

The traffic laws, roads, and drivers have changed as well. One common focus of these classes is defensive driving techniques, which can come in handy considering how many more motorists are sharing the roads today compared with the past.

The population in California, for example, was estimated to be just over 23.5 million in 1980, which is around the time 55-year-old drivers began driving. The 2011 estimated population was nearly 38 million, which means that there are plenty of additional drivers to "defend" against.

Defensive driving techniques that are commonly taught include minimizing the effects of blind spots, maintaining proper distances behind other cars, making safe lane changes, properly using safety features, knowing the effects of medication on driving, and eliminating distractions.

Learning or refining these skills can help you stay safe while behind the wheel and can lead to cheaper car insurance.

Avoiding one single accident can save you hundreds of dollars on auto insurance costs for years, especially if the accident would have been your fault. According to the New York State Department of Financial Services website, a first at-fault traffic accident can increase your premiums by up to 40 percent in that state.

Although it's a good idea for you to take an educational driving course regardless of whether or not you'll receive a discount on car insurance, you should do a double check to make sure that the class is approved by the state.

State-approved classes are usually the most educational and beneficial to students, plus it doesn't hurt to make sure you'll get that discount. You may want to check with your car insurer for suggestions, too.

Take the Next Step:

  • Find out what boomers need to know about homeowners insurance and see if you can find more ways to cut insurance costs.
  • Use this tool to maximize your retirement by determining the best age to take your Social Security benefits. Don't leave thousands on the table by taking Social Security at the wrong time.
  • Save up to 35% on existing TV, internet, cell phone and home security bills with Shrinkabill.
  • Subscribe to After 50 Finances. You've learned how to work smarter, not harder. This weekly newsletter is dedicated to people just like you. Subscribers get a FREE copy of our After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist, a list of everything you need to do to be ready for retirement.

John Pirro writes informative resource pages about state coverage laws and getting the best deal on car insurance at

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