Consumer Reports: best cars for teens and seniors

If you’re planning to buy a new car for your college-bound student, your first thought might be to shuffle the vehicle deck to give them grandma’s car or your car, and then purchase a replacement. But experts say you might want to think twice about a strategy like that. Newer cars have all the latest safety features, a very important consideration four younger, less experienced drivers.
Before making any decisions, you might want to check with recent recommendations from Consumer Reports. On their Car Blog, they feature a video and a post talking about considerations when buying cars for teens and seniors. They offer their recent picks for the best car options in various classes for each population. Also see their picks for Small drivers and Tall drivers).
In their post, they make some other important points about teen drivers:

Many states have graduated licensing programs that progress teens through a series of steps to achieve the full freedom of driving, by restricting driving hours, passengers, and cell-phone usage. Even if your state doesn’t have such a program in place, you can implement one at home. Studies have shown that there are biological risk factors that diminish as your teen becomes a young adult, signaling immaturity as a significant concern. Limiting risks when the teen is 16 and even 17 years old can increase the chances of responsible, accident-free driving.

They also cite a prior post about teen defensive driving schools. This is a great idea to help your teen learn how to practice and prepare for emergency situations. Plus, it may help you to save money. Ask your insurance agent about any available auto insurance credits, such as Good Student, Advanced Driver Training, or Motor Club Credits.

Don’t be a victim: be alert for insurance fraud and scams

Especially in this tough economy, The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is warning consumers to keep their guard up to avoid becoming victims of insurance fraud. When it comes to insurance pricing, it’s best to adhere to the old adage of “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.” According to NAIC:

“Fake insurance companies and dishonest insurance agents can defraud consumers by collecting premiums for bogus policies with no intention or ability to pay claims. Phony home, health, life and auto policies typically are offered at rates that are significantly lower than the traditional market price in order to woo consumers who are trying to save money.”

They suggest that if you are unsure of the company or agent that you are dealing with, take these three steps:

  • STOP before signing any paperwork or writing a check
  • CALL your state insurance department, which is easily reached by phone
  • CONFIRM that the company or agent offering insurance is legitimate and licensed in the state.

Here’s a clickable map to find your state insurance authority and here’s the NAIC Consumer Information Source, where you can file complaints or do research on company complaints and financial information.
It can also be helpful to keep informed about common fraud schemes. The Coalition for Insurance Fraud posts consumer insurance scam alerts and they feature a good list of insurance fraud links for consumers. The FBI also posts updates for common fraud schemes. Be sure to keep an eye out for your senior relatives and friends too – senior citizens are prime targets for various types of fraud, including insurance fraud.