Longitudinal studies are often concerned with estimating the rate of an event that may recur. Examples are nonmelanoma skin cancer rates, screening rates for breast cancer using mammography and hospital admission rates. We propose simple estimators for directly and indirectly standardized summary rates and relative rates of recurrent events and their variances. We also develop an estimator of the excess rate in an area if the rate in another area applied. For non-recurrent events, the estimators are identical to the usual standardized summary rates. The estimators are independent of the underlying distribution of the event of interest and allow for unequal follow-up times and event rate heterogeneity among individuals. The method is not computationally intensive and does not require specialized software. We illustrate the application of the method in a retrospective cohort study of hospital utilization patterns of Medicare enrollees in Boston and New Haven over a three and a half year period.