Car insurance for drivers with disabilities is mostly the same as for any driver — but watch out for unexpected costs.
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Discrimination Act, which became a law in 1990, car insurance providers are prohibited from using any driver’s disability to quote them a higher insurance rate. However, these providers may use other reasons related to your disability to charge you more anyway.
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What factors are specific to insurance for drivers with disabilities?
There aren’t many factors specific to drivers with disabilities, but if these factors apply to you, they could cause you to pay a higher rate for your coverage.
Say your vehicle has undergone expensive modifications like adding wheelchair lifts, alternative steering or push-pull hand controls. If this is the case, you’re likely to get a higher rate due to the cost and increased value of your modified vehicle.
However, you’ll need to make sure your provider understands that the modifications to your car are to suit a disability, not to increase the speed or performance. Sometimes, a provider will see that you marked your vehicle as “modified” and assume the worst.
All it usually takes is a phone call to make sure the provider understands the exact nature of what’s been modified. A wheelchair lift or steering modification should elicit a much more positive or neutral response from an insurer than if you had modified your car for all-terrain racing or drift competitions.
Medical approval to drive
Some drivers with disabilities, especially those with unexpected seizures or spells, can pose an issue on the road causing an accident. This makes them more of a risk to insure.
However, some conditions can be managed with medication; if your condition is along these lines, you may need written approval from a medical doctor to let your provider know you’re not at any immediate risk for a seizure, a fainting spell or any other episode that could make driving dangerous.
Your insurance provider may still increase your rates if you’re at risk for seizures, even with medical approval to drive; this can be appealed, but risk is risk, and insurance providers are naturally trying to avoid risk as much as possible. Sometimes that simply comes in the form of charging you more.
What if my provider isn’t working with me on modifications or medical approvals?
That’s a hard situation to give a definitive action plan for, but it may be time to look for a new insurance company. Trying to work out the issues with your current provider is always a good first step — you may need to appeal a decision once and get a new set of eyes on your paperwork.
If it’s a recurring issue, or one that doesn’t seem likely to resolve soon, shopping around is your next option. You could be in for some great savings and a better line of communication with another company, and you won’t know until you look.
What affects the cost of my car insurance?
These standard factors are likely to come into play for your auto insurance rates, whether you have a disability or not.
- Age. Young drivers under 25, as well as seniors over 70, will almost certainly pay more for car insurance.
- Gender. Males can often expect higher premiums. This is sometimes countered by age and marital status. Basing insurance rates on gender is legal in most states except for California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and part of Michigan.
- Driving experience. Drivers with learner license plates typically pay more for insurance, which can compound the effect of age on premiums.
- Type of vehicle. This is a big one for drivers with disabilities, because the most common thing affecting a driver’s insurance rates is probably a vehicle modification. The more a vehicle is worth, you can be fairly sure it will cost more to insure.
- Occupation. People who drive every day for their job, like regional salespeople or delivery drivers, can expect significantly higher premiums thanks to more time spent on the road. Sometimes this is countered by employer policies that cover these drivers while they’re earning a paycheck.
- Location. Some areas put a car at higher risk of theft, vandalism and other potential hazards, which will incur higher costs. Similarly, if one area is more prone to flooding or storms, you may see this impact your premiums.
- Claims history. The more car insurance claims you’ve made in the past, the higher your premiums will generally be in the near future.
- Credit score. In 47 US states, auto insurance providers can use your credit score to help calculate your rates. This is because statistics show a strong link between excellent credit and safe, accident-free driving. Worth noting: the three states where your credit score cannot affect your car insurance rates are California, Hawaii and Massachusetts.
- Safety record. If you get speeding tickets often, or if you’ve been in multiple accidents in a relatively short time, your insurer will likely know about it — and raise your rates accordingly.
- Drivers on the policy. Only certain people you add onto the policy will be approved to drive the car you’re insuring, and all of them impact the cost. Even the world’s safest driver will get a substantial price hike by listing another less-safe driver on the policy.
- Driving habits. How far you drive each day, how often you get behind the wheel and where you drive can all play a part in your car insurance prices. And once again, other factors such as your employment status or your overall clearance to drive can play a part in how many miles you put on per month or per year, which will in turn affect your policy cost.
While there might not be special rates or discounts for drivers with disabilities, you should keep your insurance provider informed about any needs in relation to your disability and how that affects your vehicle or your driving. If you and your agent or provider are on the same page, you’re that much closer to getting the best value possible on your auto insurance coverage.
To learn more about everything from special insurance discounts to regulations and statistics, visit our comprehensive guide to car insurance.