Raising Car Insurance Rates For Seniors

(WSVN) - He considers himself a great driver. No accidents, no problems and then his insurance company doubled his rates. They said it’s his age. He said it’s discrimination, and it’s illegal, but is it? It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

James Gill is 87 and feels pretty good about his health.

James Gill, younger than his years: “Yeah, normal pains that everyone else has. If you don’t have a pain when you get up, you didn’t make it.”

Then there is something else James feels great about: his attitude.

James Gill: “I wanna do the best I can do. I wanna be first, you follow me? I went out in business, I was always going to be successful. I just knew it.”

That pride in his age and outlook explains why James was irritated with his car insurance company for basically telling him he was too old for them.

James Gill: “I just — what the hell? What’d they do?”

What they did was more than double his insurance rate, from $2,500 dollars to $5,900 a year.

James Gill: “It has to be my age. What else could it be?”

Has to be his age, James said, because it’s sure not his driving record.

James Gill: “I have a perfect record. I had no discrepancies on my record. They should be beating my door down to have me as a customer.”

James then called his insurance company.

James Gill: “I say, ‘Listen, my reflexes aren’t what they used to be — I know that — but you throw a football at me, I’ll catch it.’ My reflexes are like a 60 to 65 year-old guy.”

Now, James knows there are a lot drivers his age and younger that are not sharp as they should be.

James Gill: “You know there’s lousy drivers in Florida. Tons of them.”

But James says he is not a lousy driver, and so he offered his insurance company a deal.

James Gill: “I’ll take a driver’s test. I will pay for it. If I don’t pass, I’ll give you my license.”

They said “nope,” and still wanted to jack his rates from $2,500 to $5,900. His response?

James Gill: “This is ridiculous. They’re discriminating against me and, you know, you can’t do that.”

Well, Howard, James may feel and act like a 67-year-old, but can an insurance company double his rates because he is an 87-year-old?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Legally, this is not discrimination, because an insurance company can virtually charge any rate they want based on your driving record or age. It’s higher for young people because many don’t know what they are doing, and elderly people because their reflexes are not as sharp as they were. Sadly, if you are sharp like James, they don’t base it on individual reflexes, but rather, lump people together and base it on their age.”

There are some ways to reduce your insurance rates if you are a senior.

For example, once you retire, change your driving status to “leisure” or “pleasure.” That reduces the miles, the risk of an accident and your rates.

Also, some insurance companies offer a senior discount, and you can take a class and get a “mature driver discount.” The link to find those classes will be down below.

Finally, maybe the best option…

Howard Finkelstein: “No matter what your age is, shop around. Different insurance companies have different rates for different groups of people. Find one that has a rate that you like.”

That worked for James. Instead of his $2,500 rate being doubled, another insurance company offered a policy for only $2,800. Good thing for James, because if he had to pay $5,900, he was ready to permanently park his car.

James Gill: “You know, I’ll tell you, if I had to pay that, I’d give up my car, and I’d take Uber.”

Depending on how often you drive, using Uber or Lyft or a cab might be cheaper than a car payment and insurance, and no matter what your age is, if you want to find a lower insurance rate and don’t want to do it yourself, contact an independent insurance agent. They know all the tricks to get you a better deal.

Dealing with someone who needs an attitude adjustment? Rate you chances of doing it as slim? Contact us, because we are driven to insure you get the help you need.

Link to mature driver discounts

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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