Contact: Tim Cox

Z!ng Public Relations






Research from Quality Planning Corp. Shows Elderly Drivers
 Involved in More Accidents, Fewer Violations Than Younger Drivers


Study by underwriting expert indicates that insurance companies need
more precision when assessing age-based rating factors



SAN FRANCISCO—September 29, 2003—Earlier this month, an 88-year-old woman lost control of her car and killed an elderly couple in Roseville, Minn. That same day in Santa Cruz, Calif., an 85-year-old driver injured four pedestrians. Back in July, an 86-year-old driver killed 10 people when his vehicle plowed through a farmers’ market in Santa Monica, Calif. Headlines like these have ignited media debates nationally and triggered a controversial recommendation by one state legislator for more testing of elderly drivers.


And with good reason: Statistics from a September analysis released by the Associated Press of Wisconsin’s state accident data from 1998-2002 show drivers of age 81 and older had a higher accident rate per estimated miles driven than any other age group except the youngest drivers. The analysis also showed that drivers in the 81 and older age group were involved in six reported accidents for every estimated 1 million miles driven — double the rate of drivers in the various age groups from 31 through 70.


Nationally, the figures are worse. Quality Planning Corporation today released statistics from over one million drivers across the country. These numbers show that drivers over 81 years old are involved in 27 reported accidents for every estimated one million miles driven. The data compiled by QPC reveal that the most accident-prone age group is 16-24, after which accidents drop from 28 to 16 for 21 to 30 year olds and continue to decrease until the 61-70 age bracket, at which point the accident rate starts to climb back up to about the same rate as that of the youngest drivers [1].


Are moving violations and accidents linked?

What is perhaps more interesting is to compare accident rate data against moving violation data across these different age groups. Moving violations are considered an important indicator by insurance companies when assessing the risk a driver represents. So surely they would be a good indicator of the affect age has on risk? Actually, no. Using various national and state agency databases, QPC’s analysis reveals that, while older drivers may be involved in as many accidents as younger drivers, they generally obey the law.


Predictably, drivers in the 16-20 year bracket have the highest number of moving violations — 21 per one million miles driven. As drivers get older the rate drops quickly — faster than the rate of decline in accidents — and continues to drop even as accident rates start to climb at the age of 61. Drivers over 81 years old have a moving violation rate of only 4 per million miles driven.

“These figures should be cause for concern among auto insurance companies,” said Dr. Daniel Finnegan, president and founder of QPC. “It’s clear that moving violation data is not a good predictor of risk as drivers age, which means insurers need to rely less on DMV data when making underwriting decisions. Instead, auto insurers should seek a more complete picture, and examine both age and moving violation data to predict the risk that older drivers represent.


“Insurers are of course concerned that they may have taken on more risk than they’re being paid to assume,” added Finnegan. “However, just as important is to address the issue of significant inequalities with auto insurance, where honest people subsidize the dishonest, low risk drivers subsidize high risk drivers, those that use their vehicles little subsidize high mileage users. Age is one area where we believe insurance companies should focus more underwriting attention.”


Rating integrity and competitive advantage

QPC assists auto insurers in their efforts to minimize rating error. QPC takes an auto insurance company’s book of policyholders and runs it through a battery of more than 150 proprietary tests, cross-references and pattern-matching algorithms to identify likely rating errors. QPC also provides insurers with additional services such as policyholder phone interviews to verify occupation, annual mileage and other key rating information. Insurance companies live and die on their information — so those companies with accurate rating information are better able to compete and will be more financially stable in the long run.


About Quality Planning Corporation

Quality Planning Corporation, (QPC) the Rating Integrity Solutions Company, was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in San Francisco. QPC is focused exclusively on providing decision integrity solutions to the insurance industry. QPC works with insurance companies to identify areas of significant premium leakage using sophisticated database management, statistical analysis and modeling, customized survey design, and highly targeted customer interaction. For more information, visit


[1] A PDF version of this news release with the embedded chart, as well as a PDF of the chart can be found at: