Whether you’re retired and enjoying some well-deserved extra time, or still working and looking towards the future; if you drive, you’ll need affordable insurance for your vehicle. From Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance – a legal requirement as part of car registration across Australia, to higher levels of insurance, there’s a product for you.
With lower rates of accidents compared to younger drivers (according to the National Road Safety Strategy),1 seniors can take out policies offering competitive premiums that reflect their good driving history.
That said, the cost of car insurance depends on the vehicle and the driver’s details. Insurance companies consider a driver’s age alongside other relevant statistics to establish a risk factor when calculating premiums. This can lead to seniors being charged more for their car insurance compared to Aussies in their 30s and 40s, but less than those in their 20s who could be deemed riskier to insure, for example. It all depends on the provider, their risk assessment, plus your vehicle and driver details.
Seniors and pensioners may be able to reduce the price of their car insurance in a number of ways.
Some of these methods may not be available through different policies and insurers. It’s essential to read over a policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for details.
Classic car insurance is its own product, which differs depending on the age and type of vehicle you own. Generally, seniors discounts don’t apply to classic car insurance policies, but these plans have their own inclusions specifically for vintage vehicles.
Pay-as-you-drive is a feature in certain car insurance policies that some insurers offer, typically cheaper than regular policies. It isn’t just available as car insurance for pensioners, but other age groups as well.
You specify a limit for the number of kilometres you plan on driving within a certain time frame (such as 12 months). If you exceed this limit, you might face a higher excess. You can often increase your limit if you realise you are going to exceed it sooner than expected, though this does cost extra.
This plan is handy if you don’t drive very far or often, and depending on your retirement lifestyle, this could be a product that suits your needs and budget.
If you’re exploring Australia, some seniors’ car insurance might provide coverage for your caravan, to a certain limit. Other providers offer an additional extra which you can pay to add to your car insurance to help cover your caravan, while some offer specific insurance policies just for your caravan or motorhome.
Depending on the insurer and what’s stated in your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), you may be covered for going off-road. Not all providers insure off-road driving, regardless of whether you have a 4WD or not. , you typically won’t be covered for racing, contests, rallies or trials.
Some providers do offer seniors discounts, but this isn’t necessarily based on whether you are on a government pension or are a self-funded retiree.
You may have the option of paying for an optional extra to cover valuables that you carry in your car, which can cover wheelchairs and other mobility aids, as well as personal effects like a purse, satchel or clothing. Any modifications to your car to assist with mobility will affect the value of your car, which affects how your premiums are calculated.
There are specialty providers that offer car insurance for disability parking permit users.
Each state has rules regarding senior drivers. Regulations differ depending on the type of licence, such as motorcycle licences. The information below relates specifically to car licenses for Australian pensioners. Once you hit a certain age threshold, you’ll need to meet these conditions to take out car insurance and drive on the road.
N.B. The information below refers specifically to cars and not other classes of vehicle such as motorcycles or public vehicles like buses or taxis. The following is correct as of August 2020 but is subject to change.
If you’re a Queensland resident turning 75, you’ll need to pass a medical assessment to receive a medical certificate to drive, which you’ll need to carry with you at all times when on the road. The maximum validity for this certificate is 13 months – meaning you’ll need to undergo a medical assessment roughly every year.
Medical professionals may reduce how long your medical certificate is valid for if they want to go through more regular check-ups with you.
Residents in New South Wales who are 75 or older will need to undergo an annual medical review to keep their licence. Drivers who are 85 years old will have the choice of keeping their unrestricted car licence or moving to a modified licence. A modified licence still requires a medical check every year, and only allows you to drive under certain conditions.
Keeping your unrestricted driving licence once you reach 85 means you’ll need to undergo an annual medical test every year, and a practical driving test every second year.
Drivers in Victoria 75 years old or older can only renew their driver’s license every three years. VicRoads does provide information about a number of medical conditions that can affect your Victorian driving licence.
All Tasmanian drivers, including older drivers, need to self-assess their ability to drive should they be concerned about a medical condition.
Drivers in Western Australia need to have annual medical assessments once you turn 80 years old. At 85 and beyond, you may be required to undertake annual practical driving assessments to test your driving skills.
South Australian residents over 75 years old with no previous medical condition will need to perform a self-assessment of their medical fitness to drive. Based on the answers of your self-assessment, a medical professional may need to complete their own assessment regarding your ability to drive safely.
Northern Territory drivers, including seniors, will need to complete a medical fitness to drive assessment if they have disability or medical condition.
Australian Capital Territory residents need to have an annual medical examination by a doctor once they reach the age of 75 to be able to drive.
1 Road deaths by age group. National Road Safety Strategy, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, Australian Government. 2019.