This is a question especially interesting in a developing nation such as South Africa. Across the world we will find that all car insurers pay close attention to the age of the insured or regular driver – and regard younger drivers as a greater accident risk.
We have discussed this in more detail in other blog posts and on the Arrive Alive website, and would like to refer briefly to a section on “Underage drivers and Road Safety” on the Arrive Alive website”.
Why do underage drivers pose such a significant risk?
- The high number of underage drivers transgressing the law by going for a joyride can be attributed to peer pressure and a feeling of youthful invincibility
- Teenagers have a sense that they can get away with transgressions – a feeling of bravado whereby “ I can get away with anything”
- This is further evident in research indicating that teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use
- About 30% of crashes killing young drivers involve alcohol and are often combined with contributing factors such as speeding
In South Africa we find that the changing political landscape since 1994 has brought another dimension to consider, and that the age of the driver is something to consider with a greater focus on the “driving age” of the driver!
Why is South Africa to be regarded as different?
Before 1994 a significantly smaller part of the road user population was able to be vehicle owners. With the changing political climate and economic policies of BEE and racial preference in new employment many previously disadvantaged people were given greater financial freedom and the ability to purchase and drive their own vehicles.
As older people became first time drivers, so has the importance increased of not only focusing on the age of the driver – but rather the years that the person has been driving or kilometres driven.
How many new driving licences issued in 2009 and to which age groups?
Statistics provided by our friends at eNaTIS reveal that in 2009, there were 358, 358 driving licences issued to drivers in South Africa. An astonishing 45% or 162,704 were issued to drivers older than 25 years of age. This statistic, I suspect would be much higher than in the US and European countries.
So why is this important for car insurance premiums?
On the Arrive Alive website we have, before the start of the 2009 Festive Season made available information to our teen drivers going on their matric holidays! This was done recognizing that many of these young drivers are exposed to unique challenges and we believe it is important to create awareness of the need for safety amongst this younger age group.
Actuaries who calculate potential risk will carefully consider licensing statistics on age in designing the model used to calculate accident risk. Even though some insured vehicle owners might be older than others, they might have significantly less driving experience than their younger fellow road users.
Even though they might not be challenged as severely by the same road safety risks facing teen drivers, their lack of experience behind the wheel needs to be considered in calculating their insurance premium. A driver of 40 years of age having driven 200,000km should present less of an accident risk than the novice driver of 40 years.
Our older road users are advised to gain more experience by attending driver courses in safe, defensive and advanced driving. This could assist them to not only drive safely, but also to provide evidence to their insurers that they are focused on driving safely and avoiding accidents – a fact that could be taken into account in calculating the car insurance premiums payable.
Also view on the Arrive Alive website: