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How to get car insurance for drivers with disabilities

Extra coverage and modifications may raise rates. But you can offset that with smart savings.

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Thanks to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Discrimination Act, car insurance companies are prohibited from using any driver’s disability to quote them a higher insurance rate. Even if a disability affects your standard driving setup, you could still get around with medical approval or vehicle modifications.

Rest assured that insurers won’t spike your rates just because of your disability. But switching to a vehicle with specialized equipment or making modifications to your own car may result in higher premiums.

How does car insurance differ with a disability?

Your disability may affect car insurance if it affects your ability to drive. A few situations to consider when getting insured with a disability:

  • Not all disabilities affect driving. For example, the need for a walker or cane might not affect your driving, while poor eyesight could.
  • Medical approval for driving. Depending on your disability, your state department of motor vehicles (DMV) may need written medical approval to verify you’re safe to be behind the wheel. This may then be added to your license.
  • Extra coverage. You may want extra protection if you’re first learning to drive with a disability, such as medical payments coverage or roadside assistance. Added equipment and adaptive modifications may also require additional coverage.
  • Disabilities that affect safety. Insurers can’t discriminate based on disability, but they can raise rates for increased driving risk. For example, a person with epilepsy, unmanaged diabetes or fainting spells could pose an extra risk on the road. Even with medical approval, the higher risk may warrant higher rates.

Is car insurance more expensive for drivers with disabilities?

It’s against the law for insurance companies to charge drivers with disabilities more on premiums based only on their having a disability. But if your disability affects your ability to drive safely, it may cause your rates to go up because your insurance company may adjust your risk rating.

You may also end up paying more if your car requires adaptive modifications. Because these modifications are expensive to repair and replace, any coverage that includes them will likely need a higher limit to accommodate the extra cost.

Do adaptive modifications affect car insurance?

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 going to need to add a custom equipment coverage endorsement to your policy if you want the modifications to be covered under collision or comprehensive.

However, you’ll need to make sure your insurer understands that the modifications to your car are for accessibility, not to increase the speed or performance. Sometimes, an insurer 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 insurer understands the exact nature of what’s been modified. Pedal extenders or steering modification should elicit a much more positive or neutral response from an insurer than if you modified your car for all-terrain racing or drift competitions.

Do I need medical approval to drive?

If you do, the approval will need to go to your state department of motor vehicles, and not your insurance company. Some conditions that would otherwise prohibit driving can be managed with medication — if your condition is along these lines, you may need written approval from a medical doctor to let the state know you’re not at any immediate risk for a seizure, a fainting spell or any other episode that could make driving dangerous.

How much does a disability affect car insurance rates?

Your disability could influence your premium indirectly in several ways:

  • Vehicle modified for disability. Although some disabilities prohibit driving a standard vehicle, you could modify one to regain your ability to drive. However, those modifications usually drive up the car’s value, which can also increase the premium.
  • Additional coverage. You might opt for higher limits or add-ons like replacement cost or customized parts to account for the higher cost of a modified vehicle.
  • Changing drivers. If you’re unable to drive, you may list another person as the named insured or primary driver on the policy.
  • Excluding yourself. Remember, excluding yourself means you won’t receive insurance coverage, which is legally required for driving on the open road in most states. This option works best for those who won’t be getting behind the wheel.

How to get cheap car insurance after a disability

If you find yourself paying extra for add-ons or modified vehicle coverage, you can still look into several ways to save:

  • Go provider shopping. Your current insurer might not have the best rate for your coverage or modified vehicle needs.
  • Pay as you go. A pay-as-you-go policy, otherwise known as telematics, tracks your driving and charges based on driving habits and mileage. This option could save you money for safe driving and low mileage, no matter your disability.
  • Bundle your insurance. Consider using the same company to buy all your insurance policies in one place.
  • Find new discounts. Make sure you know all the discounts you’re eligible for, including homeownership or safety course completion.
  • Lower coverage where possible. Take off unnecessary coverage to lower rates when you can, such as rental car reimbursement if you have multiple cars to use. However, consider keeping broad coverage for physical damage if you have a specialized vehicle.

How do I update my car insurance after a disability?

You can let your insurance company know all the information they need in several steps:

  • Call a representative to inform the company about your disability and how it affects driving.
  • Provide medical consent or other necessary documents to prove your driving ability and vehicle modifications needed.
  • Add or delete coverage through the representative or your online account.
  • Get quotes from multiple providers and compare the best value for coverage.
  • Save updates to your current policy, or finalize coverage details to start a new policy.

What if my insurer isn’t working with me on modifications or medical approvals?

It may be time to look for a new insurance company. Trying to work out the issues with your current company 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.

How to get car modification rebates

Thinking about upgrading your car? Many car manufacturers offer mobility programs with rebates up to $1,000 to help cover the cost of modifying a new vehicle. Typically you’ll work with your dealership to compare your adaptive device options and pick out a new car to buy or lease. You’ll order the adaptive equipment and submit receipts for reimbursement.

  • Ford: $1,000 for adaptive equipment and $200 for alert hearing devices, lumbar support or running boards
  • Chrysler: $1,000 for installing adaptive driver or passenger equipment
  • GM: $1,000 off for drivers with disabilities purchasing or leasing new Chevrolet, Buick or GMC cars
  • Honda: $1,000 for installing adaptive driver or passenger equipment for a new or leased car
  • Hyundai: $500 for installing adaptive equipment
  • Kia: $750 for installing adaptive equipment
  • Mazda: $750 for installing driving aids or mobility assistance equipment
  • Nissan: $1,000 for installing adaptive equipment
  • Toyota: $1,000 for adaptive equipment
  • Volvo: $1,000 for installing adaptive equipment
  • Volkswagen: $1,000 for installing adaptive equipment

What modifications are covered by mobility programs?

Typical car modifications you can get reimbursement for include:

  • Automatic door openers
  • Hand controls
  • Wheelchair lifts & ramps
  • Parking brake
  • Power assist seats
  • Steering devices
  • Wheelchair restraints

These modifications might qualify for reimbursement, but you may have to prove why you need them.

  • Assist handles
  • Keyless entry
  • Keyless ignition
  • Lumbar support
  • Headrest adjustment
  • Pedal extensions
  • Power seats
  • Remote liftgate opener
  • Running boards
  • Seatbelt extenders
  • Seat modifications
  • Special mirrors

Bottom line

Insurance companies can’t legally up your rates for disability, but you might find them raised anyway due to high-dollar car modifications and wider coverage needs.

Even if that’s the case, compare multiple car insurance providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Frequently asked questions

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Roslyn McKenna Ayers is insurance manager at ValuePenguin and a former publisher at Finder, specializing in home and auto coverage. Her expertise and analysis has been featured on Bankrate, MSN and Reader's Digest. She holds a BA in writing and communications from Maryville College. See full bio

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    ElizabethFebruary 5, 2019

    I live in Illinois, I’m elderly and disabled due to a hard time. I don’t have money for car insurance. Do you have any information about insurance that can help me?

      JhezelynFebruary 6, 2019Finder

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you for your comment.

      If you’re referring to car insurance, generally, it’s illegal to drive a vehicle without car insurance on any public roads in the country. There are no “car insurance alternatives” for those who can’t afford car insurance. However, there are options available to those who can’t afford car insurance, like extremely low-cost car insurance plans.

      You may compare the car insurers listed above and please speak with them about options available for your situation. If you are sure now to apply, you can click the Go to Site button to be redirected to the insurer’s website.

      Please make sure to read the eligibility criteria, features and details of the policy, as well as the relevant Product Disclosure Statement PDS/T&C’s of the policy before making a decision and consider whether the product is right for you. If necessary, speak to the insurance brand to verify any details.


    Default Gravatar
    FrancisOctober 8, 2018

    If I am disabled and have care takers drive my auto for me , which company can I get auto insurance with ?

      Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoOctober 10, 2018

      Hi Francis!

      Thanks for your inquiry and for visiting our page.

      It’s easy to find coverage for another person on your car insurance policy. Check the terms of your current policy to see if it already covers other drivers you’ve given permission to drive your car. If not, you can add caretakers as nominated drivers on your policy. Most insurers will offer this, including the providers listed on that page above.

      Hope this helps. Feel free to message us again should you have further concerns.


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