Many people find insurance premiums rise as they grow older. We look at insurers that specialise in policies for older customers and ask whether they really offer a better deal
Age plays an important factor for insurance companies when calculating premiums. Older customers may find themselves having to shell out more than they used to for motor and travel cover, but less for home insurance.
However, there are companies that specifically target the over-50s, such as Age Co (previously Age UK), the Post Office, RIAS, Saga and Sunlife.
These specialist insurers claim that their underwriting expertise in this market means they are able to offer older customers a better deal than standard providers.
Julian Kearney, chief executive of Staysure, says: “Being a specialist provider means we’re not a jack of all trades but committed experts with a laser-focused vision of making travel insurance accessible and affordable for all. We know what we’re good at and that’s creating a product which is adaptable to an ever-changing over 50s market which may not be the focus of other mainstream insurers.
“The relationship we have with our underwriter certainly helps us do that. What we can offer above and beyond standard insurers is peace of mind to a customer.”
But while over-50s insurers claim to be able to offer customers better terms, it does not necessarily follow that these policies are all they are cracked up to be.
Are over-50s insurers cheaper?
We asked comparison site GoCompare to obtain quotes for 65- and 80-year olds across home, motor and travel insurance to find out how much the cheapest over-50s insurers charge.Matt Oliver, insurance expert at GoCompare, says: “They can be cheaper in certain circumstances because that is their target market.
“However, there is no guarantee that simply because you are over 50, a specialist firm would be the cheapest insurer for you.
“You could still find that there is a wider array of standard providers out there who would give you a competitive rate.”
Younger drivers typically pay the most for motor insurance, with premiums falling as drivers becoming more experienced, and with drivers over 40 considered to be the safest.
However, once drivers turn 70 they may start to see their premiums rising again. While they may statistically be among the safest drivers in the country, older drivers are more likely to have health issues, such as problems with their eyesight.
Once you reach 70 you will have to renew your driving licence, which you will then be required to do every three years. You will also have to confirm that your eyesight meets the minimum standard and notify the DVLA and your insurer about any medical conditions.
For car insurance, we looked at quotes for a 65-year-old man driving a 2015 Ford Focus with five years’ no-claims bonus in Eastbourne.
The cheapest quote we obtatained was £256 from standard insurer LV=, with specialist Saga, coming in at £111 a year more, at £345.
For an 80-year-old, standard insurers once again came out top, with LV= quoting £256.54. Saga was the next best quote at £345, followed by City Insurance at £465 and Coverbox at £485.
Remember, when buying car insurance, the cheapest policy is not always the best one and that going fully comprehensive may give you the best deal.
Travel insurance is another area where costs are likely to increase with age. This is because older travellers are more likely to fall ill while overseas.
However, again our research showed that older holidaymakers could get a cheaper deal with standard insurers.
For two 65-year-olds who are spending a week in Spain with no previous medical conditions, the lowest priced policy was £13 from Puffin Bronze.
Travel insurance with Saga was three times more expensive than the lowest price from a standard insurer, coming in at £39.
It was a similar story for two 80-year-olds staying in Spain, with standard insurers once again beating insurers that specialise for the over-50s on price.
The cheapest deal on offer was from Holiday Extra, charging £48, ahead of the Post Office at £55 and Saga at £82.
Saga says that while its travel insurance policies were more expensive they offered a higher level of cover compared to their competitors.
Most travel insurance policies will exclude pre-existing conditions. But if you do have health problems that need to be covered, it may be worth speaking to an insurance company that specialises in people with medical complaints.
One policy that gets cheaper the older you get is home insurance.This is because as people get older they are statistically less likely to make a claim, and when they do, the average cost is less so there is a good chance you will get a better deal.
It is not just the cost of cover that can be cheaper, the terms and conditions that apply can also be more generous.
People who are over 50 are more likely to get higher cover for buildings and contents insurance. This is because older people are more likely to live in a larger home as a result of having a family.
In our example for contents-only home insurance we used a married 65-year-old from Eastbourne, living in a three-bed bungalow.
Our investigation found that all the top home insurance policies beat the over-50s insurers hands down.
The cheapest policy quoted was from Swinton Essentials at £42, with policies from Admiral, Home Smart and Swiftcover all coming in at under £50.
When it came to insurers for the over-50s, the cheapest was the Post Office at £54, with RIAS coming in at £66 and Saga charging £70.
Do over-50s insurers offer better cover?
Although specialist insurance companies don’t seem to be winning the price war so far, do they offer a higher standard of cover?
While many insurers set maximum age limits on their policies, Saga and Age Co do not have any across their range of policies for home, car and travel insurance.
If you take out a car insurance policy with Saga it will be fixed for three years, plus you are not tied to it and can leave at renewal.
You also do not have to declare any medical or health conditions with Saga as long as the DVLA have not restricted or removed your driving licence.
Alex Cross, product and proposition director at Saga, says: “Many of our customers are on fixed incomes, so they really value the certainty of knowing what their insurance will be over the next three years, and they can budget accordingly.
“Another feature on our motor product that stands out is accident and healthcare,” he continues. “If our customers are involved in a car accident, we will cover the cost of private medical treatment.”
Policies with other insurance companiess also come with some good features.
If you take out an over-50s’ car insurance policy with RIAS, you will get £25 million worth of cover for liability and you are provided with a courtesy car as standard.
The Post Office also offers mis-fuelling cover as well as a refund on the cost of any excess you pay if you are involved in an accident.
With travel insurance, most standard insurers will often exclude people who have existing medical conditions.
While some companies such as Saga, RIAS and Age Co that specifically cater for the over-50s do offer cover for some pre-existing medical conditions, it is always advisable to check the terms and conditions before buying.
When it comes to home insurance, companies that specialise in the over-50s market tend not to come out too differently on cover from standard providers.
However, Saga does offer a three-year fixed-price promise as well as cover on loaned medical equipment and extended garden cover up to £5,000. RIAS also protects against loss and damage to your garden and has the added bonus of personal accident cover up to £30,000.
Some specialist insurers will also cover an empty home for longer than standard policies – for example, up to six weeks or more – because they recognise that retirees may be more likely to take longer holidays and spend time away.
But Mr Oliver warns that insurers that specialise in products for the over-50s will not necessarily offer a great deal more than standard insurers. He says: “The benefit of going to a specialist insurer for older people is that they are more likely to be on hand to offer help and assistance over the phone rather than online.
“They recognise the fact that older customers are more likely to want to talk to people about any queries and that they need their hand held through the claims process more so than a standard insurer would.”
Whether it is car, travel or home insurance it is always worth shopping around in order to find the best deal.
You can use price comparison websites to get quotes. However, always try to get at least three quotes, including one that is not from a comparison website.
If you have complex or special requirements it is probably best to use a broker with a broad knowledge of the market or talk to a number of companies directly.
Before you make your choice, however, do ensure sure you aren’t comparing on price alone.
Also, be sure that you know precisely what you are covered for – and, perhaps more importantly, what is not covered.