Many older drivers are still facing an uphill battle when it comes to finding an insurer willing to offer them cover. It is this lack of providers which means that more and more senior drivers are being forced to stop driving, even though they are still perfectly competent behind the wheel of the car. But is this legally permitted? Here is a look at the rules.
What Should Happen
The government has acknowledged that insurers are entitled to stop offering cover to drivers at whatever age it believes is commercially correct for their company, but there are certain steps which should be taken if an individual is refused based solely on their age.
The government helped forge an agreement between trade bodies the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurer’s Brokers Association.
This agreement stipulated that if an insurer declined an applicant for being over their maximum age limit, then they would direct the individual to a broker who would be able to place them with a company more amenable to insuring older drivers. This process is called signposting.
What Happens in Practice
Research has revealed that the redirection to brokers is simply not happening and older drivers who represent no extra risk are being forced to hang up their car keys for good, simply because they don’t have the means to find an insurer willing to accept them.
Some insurers offer different practices for existing customers whilst others enforce strict age limits regardless of how long the motorist may have been with the company.
Studies have shown that more than eight out of ten older drivers were not signposted when they were rejected, leaving them uninsured and with no easy means of identifying firms willing to provide cover.
BIBA has reported that the signposting service is being used on some occasions, with more than 40,000 referrals during its first year of operation since the agreement was enforced in April 2012. However, many experts are suggesting that in the vast majority of cases older drivers are not being helped to find an alternative insurer as they should be under the terms of the agreement.
Although the Equalities Act helped to improve out-of-date legislation, insurers received an exception but are obliged to be able to justify their pricing structure and to produce evidence which supports this. The insurance industry has countered with the allegation that older drivers make the most costly claims.
Consumer advocate Which? has found that a very large number of car insurance providers simply don’t cover drivers who are aged 81 or over, regardless of their health or driving record.
This does not mean that all insurers adopt the same policy. Select insurers offer packages that meet the needs of specific age groups. They are designed for the purpose to address the specific needs of different age groups. For example, you can find more information about over 50s motor insurance packages here.
Having access to a car is more important than ever as we get older, so forcing able and healthy drivers off the road simply due to a refusal to insure them is an issue which is surely worth highlighting once again.