Everything you need to know about driving over the age of 70

Turning 70 is an important milestone in many ways, including as a driver. At A-Plan, we want to help you maintain your independence and be able to continue to drive. Here’s everything you need to know about driving and car insurance for the over-70’s.

Are you celebrating your 70th birthday this year? Or perhaps you know someone who is? Firstly, happy birthday!

Turning 70 is an important milestone in many ways, including as a driver. At A-Plan, we want to help you maintain your independence and be able to continue to drive. Here’s everything you need to know about driving and car insurance for the over-70’s.

When do I need to renew my driving licence?

Typically, your driving licence will last for 10 years at a time before it expires – but there’s an important change once you reach the age of 70. At 70 years old you’ll need to renew your driving licence, and then renew it again every three years.

An estimated 1.5 million people have not updated their driving licences in line with this little-known law, which equates to one in four motorists over the age of 70.

Renewing your licence is free of charge: the DVLA will send you a D46P application form 90 days before your 70th birthday, but you can also apply online or with a D1 application form available from most Post Offices. Don’t forget to also apply for any vehicle categories covered by your old licence if you want to be able to continue driving these too. Renewing your C1 (medium-sized vehicles) or D1 (minibus) entitlements must be done by post.

It may seem like a hassle but ultimately, it’s about keeping you safe and ensuring other road users’ safety. It’s important for the DVLA to know that you haven’t developed any health issues that could impact your ability to drive safely. Each time you renew your licence, you must inform the DVLA and your car insurance provider of any conditions or impairments and provide details if a condition has worsened over time.

Failure to notify them of a relevant medical issue could mean that you motor insurance policy isn’t valid if you need to make a claim. You could even face a fine of up to £1,000 from the DVLA, so it really is a risk that isn’t worth taking. It may be worth scheduling a medical check-up shortly before your 70th birthday, and then each time you renew, to make sure you’re fit and ready to cope with the demands of driving. You can check which conditions may affect your driving here.

Many people worry that if they declare a medical condition, they’ll be forced to stop driving but this isn’t necessarily true. You may just require some guidance or adaptations for your car, or the DVLA may issue a short-term licence. When it comes to your health, driving and car insurance, honesty is the always the best policy.

Do I need to retake my driving test when I turn 70?

You may need to have your driving ability assessed if you have a medical condition or disability, or to give yourself peace of mind, especially if it has been a while since you were last tested. Evaluations can be arranged through a mobility centre or a local driver assessment scheme – but don’t worry, this isn’t the same as resitting your driving test.

Many councils offer driving assessment schemes, and so do the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Institute of Advanced Motorists. This assessment would involve driving around your local area for about an hour with an assessor, who will then provide a report on how you could improve your skills.

If you have a medical condition or disability, a mobility centre can explore your options regarding car adaptations, including any physical or cognitive skills and driving in a dual-controlled vehicle.

Does turning 70 affect my car insurance costs?

You may see a change in the cost of your insurance premiums once you reach 70, unfortunately. Though drivers over the age of 70 are statistically very safe, they often pay higher premiums because they tend to make more expensive claims.

Generally, to work out policy costs, car insurers use historical data which indicate that more senior drivers are likely to show slower reaction times and can be more likely to experience health conditions at the wheel. You may also find your insurance choices become more limited once you turn 70, but using a good broker can help you navigate this (and deal with any claims on your behalf if it’s ever needed).

It’s therefore crucial to keep on top of your current plan, and vitally, not let your car insurance lapse shortly before your 75th birthday, when it can be more difficult to find a policy to suit your needs.

How can I reduce the cost of my senior car insurance?

Don’t be daunted about driving if your quotes come back higher than you expected – it’s not all doom and gloom. The usual things such as your No Claims Bonus, reducing your annual mileage, and having more driving experience all still help to reduce car insurance costs.

You may consider how often and how far you need to drive based on your current lifestyle, and even whether your car still suits you. It may be good time to downsize to a vehicle that’s cheaper to insure. If you’ve been able to maintain a No Claims Bonus over several years, you could consider protecting it within your policy going forward. Otherwise, you’ll see your premiums rise if something happens that causes you to lose it.

Do the same rules apply to classic cars?

When it comes to veteran, vintage, and classic vehicles, it is vital to speak to an experienced and understanding specialist. Often these vehicles are secondary or collection cars, kept for the summer days and to rekindle the past, or have been owned for a long time.

We spoke with our specialist team at Cherished Vehicle Insurance, who focus on the classic market and have built exceptional relationships with underwriters. As the team are classic car owners and club members themselves, they have real world experience of the hobby – and passion.

“With classic car ownership being an increasingly popular hobby for those enjoying retirement, our underwriters take into account your driving history and understand the usage that many classic car owners enjoy with their vehicles,” confirms Ian Arthur, expert at Cherished Vehicles.

“With limited mileage polices, the risk to the underwriters is low in comparison to newer vehicles, resulting in competitive premiums being offered. Our specialists can help secure the right cover for your classic car, which is often appreciating in value. With policies offering a number of benefits, limited mileage, free agreed value, and European breakdown cover, there are many options you could consider to help you enjoy your classic car with peace of mind.”

Talk to Howden

It’s tempting to see your car insurance renewal as a tick-box exercise, but one size doesn’t fit all. Once you turn 70 there are more factors to consider. By talking with one of Howden’s insurance experts, you can discuss your driving needs and concerns in more detail and find cover that best suits you.

Visit your local branch and speak to an advisor who will more than happy to help.

Sources: This Is Money, Gov.uk, Age UK

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