Insurance Seniors Must Have: Car Insurance, Medicare and Life Insurance

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Seniors have special insurance needs. There are several factors that determine whether or not a senior should continue to drive, and there are also important factors to consider when buying a car and car insurance. There is government subsidized Medicare for health insurance, and Medicare Advantage, the private form of Medicare, has added benefits, like vision, hearing and dental coverage. Life insurance may also be a necessary type of policy to have, depending on your family and long-term goals. Let’s take a closer look at the three types of insurance most seniors need to help you navigate the shopping experience.

Senior Driving: Safety Tips and Auto Insurance

There is no magic age at which driving becomes dangerous for a senior: For some people it may be in their 70s while others go on to drive safely well into their 80s. However, if you’re fine to drive but need a few adjustments to make the experience safer as you age, you can add after-market equipment to an older car or buy a new car that already meets higher safety standards.

6 Factors That Determine Driver Safety for Seniors

The following factors are necessary to have in order to be a safe driver:

  1. Mobility. You will have a hard time driving if you have severe joint pain, stiffness and arthritis. See if you are okay to brake, take turns and check blind spots.
  2. Strength. If your legs are weak, you may have a hard time making a hard brake or accelerating quickly.
  3. Coordination. If walking is difficult or you don’t have the coordination to push a grocery cart, you probably should not be driving.
  4. Vision. You should not drive a car if you can’t see longer distances or what’s right in front of you. Vision is included in Medicare Advantage plans so go for annual visits to make sure you have the right lenses.
  5. Hearing. Being unable to hear can be dangerous when you’re driving. You should be able to clearly hear sirens, children, honking and noises indicating problems with your vehicle.
  6. Cognition. If you have dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s a good idea to stop driving. It’s easy to get lost once your cognitive skills are in decline, and you run a higher chance of having an accident while trying to find your way home.

Top 5 Cars for Senior Drivers

For added comfort, it’s a good idea to buy a car that has 

  1. Lightweight doors
  2. A small steering wheel that turns easily
  3. Push-button ignition and controls
  4. Backup cameras
  5. Lumbar support
  6. Sensors and warning lights
  7. Driver assistance
  8. Blind spot monitoring cameras
  9. Larger touchscreen
  10. Emergency braking system

It should also be easy to get in and out of the car, if you have back issues or other mobility challenges.

Most new cars come with safety features, but you can also add them on as aftermarket equipment if you’re upgrading an older car.

These are the best cars for seniors, according to Kelley Blue Book:

1. 2022 Toyota Camry

The base model has:

  • power lumbar support
  • forward collision warning
  • automatic emergency braking
  • lane-departure warning with steering assist
  • lane-tracing assist
  • adaptive cruise control

The XLE model adds:

  • blind-spot monitoring
  • an upgraded rear view camera
  • upgraded adaptive cruise control
  • the proximity key
  • a larger 9-inch touchscreen

2. 2022 Subaru Legacy

The Premium model is advised for seniors. It has:

  • forward collision warning with auto emergency braking
  • lane-centering assist
  • lane-departure warning
  • adaptive cruise control
  • advanced infotainment system with a larger 11.6-inch touchscreen
  • A proximity key
  • blind-spot monitor
  • rear cross-traffic alert
  • lane-change assist

3. 2022 Hyundai Sonata

Base Level has:

  • collision warning with auto emergency braking
  • lane-keeping assist
  • lane-following assist
  • driver attention warning
  • high-beam assist
  • adaptive cruise control with start-stop.

The SEL has:

  • Heated outboard mirrors with integrated turn signals
  • proximity key
  • hands-free smart trunk
  • blind-spot monitor with steering assist
  • rear cross-traffic alert with auto rear braking

4. 2022 Honda CR-V

Base model has:

  • collision warning
  • auto emergency braking
  • lane-departure warning and steering assist
  • lane-keeping assist
  • adaptive cruise control

The EX grade has:

  • a blind-spot monitor
  • rear cross-traffic alert
  • heated outboard mirrors with integrated turn signals
  • LED fog lights
  • a 12-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustments
  • larger touchscreen

5. 2021 Kia Telluride

  • 10.25-inch touchscreen
  • proximity key
  • forward collision warning
  • auto emergency braking
  • blind-spot monitor with steering assist
  • Highway Driving Assist (helps with steering and braking)
  • lane-departure warning
  • lane-following assist
  • lane-keeping assist
  • rear-park assist
  • rear cross-traffic alert.

Adding Safety Features to an Older Car

Most new cars come with the following safety features, but you can add them on as aftermarket equipment if you’re upgrading an older car. If your new car needs adaptive equipment as you age, you may (or may not) receive credit from the auto manufacturer for those additions. It’s always a good idea to ask!

Here are the 2 most common add-ons for seniors:

  • Backup Camera
  • Blind-Spot Alert System

Car Insurance for Seniors

Seniors have the highest rates after males under the age of 25, because they are 16% more likely to have an accident than adults over the age of 25 and below the age of 64. However, seniors can find reasonably priced car insurance, especially if they have a clean driving record and high credit score.

Ways for Seniors To Save Money on Car Insurance

  1. Take a defensive driving course, for a generous discount and added security behind the wheel.
  2. Compare rates (all on the same day) before purchasing a policy. You never know which insurer will give you a more favorable price, and prices change daily.
  3. If you do not work, buy a policy for low-mileage drivers or consider a  telematics program, which tracks your driving behavior and mileage.

Also, buy more than the minimum limits for collision and liability coverages with the increased risk of having an accident.

Keep in mind, too, that car insurance rates are based on the value of the car you drive. A car with all the safety equipment you need will be valued and insured at a higher rate.

Medicare Vs. Medicare Advantage

Plan C, or  Medicare Advantage, is offered by private health insurance companies that have been approved by Medicare Original and follow Medicare's guidelines. This coverage includes Plan A, Plan B, and Plan D prescription drug coverage.

There are three parts to Original Medicare:

  • Part A covers hospital care services.
  • Part B covers doctor services.
  • Part D covers prescription drugs (sold as a separate Medigap plan for people with Original Medicare).

Alternative to Original Medicare:

  • Plan C, or Medicare Advantage, not only covers all three (A, B and D) but it also includes hearing and vision, depending on the policy you choose.

In order to help with prescription costs, Medicare Advantage offers A, B and D with a tier system:

  • Tier 1—lowest copayment, covers most generic prescription drugs
  • Tier 2—medium copayment, covers preferred, brand-name prescription drugs
  • Tier 3—higher copayment, covers non-preferred, brand-name prescription drugs
  • Specialty tier—highest copayment, covers high-cost prescription drugs

Plan C, or Medicare Advantage, not only covers Parts A, B and D but it also includes hearing and vision, depending on the policy you choose.

Medicare Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment for Medicare is October 15 and continued through December 7 each year. This is when you may switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or to buy Plan D for prescription drugs if you want to stick with Original Medicare.

You may be able to buy Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplements outside of the open enrollment period, if you have a qualifying event. These special Open Enrollment periods are for those who moved residences or those who just returned from a nursing facility or other institution.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is ideally purchased before the age of 35 for cost effectiveness, because life insurance only gets more expensive the older you get. However, many Americans do not take the steps to buy a policy until they are older.

You’ll have several types of life insurance policies to choose from:

To understand the differences among these types of policies, it’s important to first understand the difference between term and whole life insurance.

Term life insurance offers coverage with an end term and only pays a benefit to a beneficiary of your choice if you pass away during the term specified in your life insurance policy.

Whole life insurance does not have a term limit and insures you for your whole life, as long as you keep paying the monthly premiums.

In addition to paying a death benefit to your beneficiary when you die, whole life insurance often accumulates some cash value that you can leave to loved ones or use during your lifetime.

If you’re a senior looking to buy life insurance at an advanced age, it’s important that you compare policies to get the best value plan for your needs. Otherwise, you may spend thousands of extra dollars a year on premiums.

It's important to understand the difference between term and whole life insurance before buying a plan.

Insurance for Seniors FAQs

Are car insurance rates highest for seniors?

Car insurance rates are lowest around age 50. Rates tend to increase around ages 65 to 70. However, males under the age of 25 pay the most in car insurance.

Do seniors have more car accidents?

According to a study by Rand Corporation, drivers aged 65 and older are 16% more likely to cause an accident than adult drivers between 25 and 64 years old.

Does Medicare Advantage cost more than original Medicare?

You may pay more for Medicare Advantage up front, but it covers prescription drugs, so you don’t have to buy Plan D. It also covers dental, hearing and vision, so you may end up saving money with Medicare Advantage.

What if I outlive my term life insurance?

You will, unfortunately, not see anything for it but can renew the plan for another term at a slightly higher price. Or, you can compare other plans if you think a permanent policy that has no expiration date is a better choice. When you shop for life insurance with SmartFinancial, a knowledgeable agent will walk you through the different policies so you can make the right decision.

Key Takeaways

  • You can modify an existing car with aftermarket sensors and cameras for added safety or buy a newer car with more safety features.
  • Medicare Advantage includes prescription drug plans, vision, dental and hearing. It may cost less overall when you consider out-of-pocket expenses with original Medicare.
  • It’s important to educate yourself on the different types of life insurance policies so that what you buy serves your goals.

If you’re a senior wondering about how to save money on the insurance you need or if you need assistance tailoring your plans to fit your lifestyle, SmartFinancial can compare rates for you for free by connecting you with knowledgeable agents in your area. To get started, call  855.214.2291.

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