If you need car insurance for a disabled person, you should know that the Americans With Disabilities Act prevents auto insurance companies in every state from charging you more solely because of your disabled status. However, they may charge higher policy premiums based on the higher cost of insuring a modified vehicle or if the person has a medical condition that creates a driving safety risk.
This federal law covers individuals with many different disabling conditions, including but not limited to loss of limbs or limb function, stroke, neurological conditions, mental illness, vision loss, hearing loss, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or the need for use of a wheelchair.
Auto Policy Considerations for Disabled Drivers
According to insurance.com, some companies offer special equipment insurance that covers adaptations and custom parts in your vehicle, such as mirrors and wheelchair ramps. You may also want to increase the amount of your insurance policy to cover items you transport that would be damaged in an accident, such as a motor scooter, wheelchair, walker, or another medical device.
As a result, ValuePenguin notes that your vehicle may be more expensive to insure. However, you should expect fair coverage for your van or adapted vehicle. Make sure you list any modifications to your vehicle when you purchase car insurance. Failure to do so will prevent the insurance company from paying to repair or replace these modifications if an accident occurs.
Drivers who have a disability may also want to consider mobility coverage. This type of policy will pay for your transportation costs if your modified vehicle needs repairs after a crash.
Adaptations for Disabled Drivers
If you have a disability, you can outfit your vehicle for driving accessibility modifications such as:
- Siren alert
- Adjustable restraints and seats
- Steering devices
- Custom mirrors
- Seat belt or pedal extenders for people who have limb loss or are of short stature
- Hand controls designed for drivers who have missing limbs or loss of function
- Keyless ignition and entry
- Automatic doors
- Emergency brake extenders for drivers who cannot reach the brake because of spinal cord injury or paralysis
- Steering knobs for drivers who have loss of arms, fingers, or function of these areas
- Left foot accelerator for drivers affected by paralysis or missing limbs
- Wheelchair lift, a power-operated device to help lift heavy scooters and wheelchairs into a modified van
- Transfer seats, which help people who use wheelchairs move into the driver’s seat
If you need help with assistive equipment for your vehicle and you are a veteran, Bankrate suggests contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs in your area. You can learn more about applying for assistance and discounts for adaptive equipment to help you drive.
If you receive benefits through the Social Security Administration, consider enrolling in the agency’s Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS) program. This initiative helps individuals save money for adaptations and equipment they need to go back to work.
According to the website The Zebra, some auto manufacturers provide reimbursements for part of the cost of adapting a vehicle for use with a disability. In most cases, the available benefit ranges from $500 to $1200. Participating companies include Honda, GMC, Ford, Dodge, Ram, Chrysler and its subsidiaries, Chevrolet, Buick, Acura, Hyundai, Subaru, Volvo, Volkswagen, Toyota and its subsidiaries, and Infiniti.
Additional Types of Insurance Coverage
In addition to coverage for special vehicle modifications for disability, you may also want to purchase these policies based on state laws and your own preference:
- Personal liability coverage pays for injuries and property damage experienced by other drivers and passengers if you cause an accident.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle caused by a noncollision event such as fire, vandalism, or theft.
- Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle in an accident.
- Medical payment or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, depending on your state, covers the cost of injuries if you or occupants of your vehicle suffer injuries in an accident.
- Roadside assistance insurance provides repair services, towing, and pick-up after an accident or breakdown.
- Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage pays the cost of damage and injuries caused by a driver who has no or limited insurance.
Insurance rates vary dramatically by company based on factors such as your geographic location, the type of vehicle you drive, its value, the theft rate for that make and model, your driving history, how many miles you tend to drive every year, your years of driving experience, age, gender, marital status, and credit history.
Safety Risks for Drivers Who Have Disabilities
As noted above, medical conditions that create safety risks while driving may result in higher insurance premiums. For example, the website MoneyGeek notes that if you have epilepsy, the insurance company can charge more for coverage based on the risk that you will lose consciousness behind the wheel and have an accident.
Your doctor may contact the Department of Motor Vehicles if driving is not safe for you based on your health condition. They may also restrict your driving to daylight hours or make other provisions. If you need medical approval to operate a vehicle because of your disability, a special notation will appear on your driver’s license.
MoneyGeek notes that DMV offices use the Driver Fitness Medical Guidelines from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration to determine driver safety in light of vision problems, physical disabilities, medical conditions such as sleep apnea and dementia, and temporary medical conditions such as acute injury.
In most cases, disability does not result in the need for medical approval to drive. You can ask your doctor to provide written clearance to the DMV that you can drive without restrictions or limitations.
If you have a physical or mental disability and drive, having sufficient car insurance for disabled motorists will ensure you have financial peace of mind if an accident occurs.
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