Car insurance for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s

How will having dementia or Alzheimer's impact your car insurance?

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Dementia is a common age-related illness characterised by a variety of symptoms that can affect driving skills. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common types of dementia and may also carry certain risks while driving.

However, these illnesses are typically gradual conditions and often develop over many years. Just because someone is showing symptoms doesn’t mean they necessarily have to stop driving. By following the right steps, you can keep driving, even with dementia, Alzheimer’s or a related condition, and also keep insurance in place.

How driving with dementia works

You are required by UK law to inform the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if you suffer from dementia, as the symptoms could affect your ability to drive safely. Your GP or consultant who diagnosed your condition will usually talk to you about driving and tell you if you need to contact the DVLA.

  • You risk being fined up to £1,000 if you fail to inform the DVLA about any medical condition that might affect your driving.
  • If you’re in an accident as a result of your medical condition, you could face prosecution.

The DVLA will then send you a questionnaire (which is also available to download online) and will request your permission to obtain your medical notes from your GP or consultant. Once this form is returned, the DVLA will consult with your GP or consultant.

Based on the information provided by your GP or consultant, DVLA medical advisers will come to a decision about whether or not you can continue to drive.

The DVLA may find that:

  • You are fit to drive and therefore your licence is renewed, usually a 12 month period for someone with dementia. This could be up to a maximum of three years for a very early dementia diagnosis.
  • More information is required either from medical professionals or by you taking an on-road driving assessment.
  • You are not fit to drive and therefore your licence is cancelled.

As soon as you’ve been diagnosed with dementia, you should inform your car insurance provider. If you don’t, your policy may be invalid.

  • If your doctor advises you to stop driving for 3 months or more, or if you fail to meet the required standards for driving due to your medical condition, you will need to give up your driver’s licence. But you can apply to get your driver’s licence back as soon as you meet the medical standards of driving again.

How to get car insurance for driving with dementia

Following the appropriate steps and getting a renewed licence for a specified period is the only way to legally drive with Alzheimer’s or dementia in the UK. This is also the only way to maintain effective car insurance.

You can’t just ignore the symptoms and carrying on driving if you have the condition as car insurance providers could refuse to pay any claims in addition to the DVLA issuing you with a fine.

  • Under the terms of your car insurance policy, you are required to inform your insurance provider of anything that may affect your driving ability.

Signs and symptoms to watch out for

If any of the following symptoms are present, it might be time to seek medical help:

  • Not paying attention or not responding appropriately to car horns or sirens
  • Not seeing or not paying attention to traffic lights and signals
  • Getting the accelerator and brake mixed up
  • Getting lost or confused on roads that are familiar to you or having trouble reading a map
  • Becoming angry or having other mood changes while driving
  • Having new bumps, scratches or other signs of an accident on the car

In addition to this, the ability to effectively manage one’s finances is usually one of the first things to worsen. Look for this as well as the following signs of dementia:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Cognitive difficulties with things that used to be easy to do
  • Personality changes

It’s good to be alert for these symptoms, not only for the purposes of driving and car insurance, but also because it may be possible to take steps to slow the progress of the condition.

How to find the right insurance policy

You must inform your insurer if you have been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s or a similar condition that might affect your driving.

This is because having a renewed driver’s licence for a specified period means you have been assessed as being able to drive safely. With this, you can typically stick with the same insurer and might not even incur raised premiums or any other changes.

  • Many insurance companies do not have clear or consistent guidelines for drivers with dementia.
  • Many car insurance providers do not preclude drivers with dementia from getting cover.
  • With a renewed licence, a dementia diagnosis may have no impact on your ability to access different types of car insurance cover.

Getting a renewed driver’s licence for a specified period, and keeping it up to date with yearly assessments, is the key to driving safely with dementia and keeping adequate car insurance cover.

Finding cheaper car insurance

Having a renewed licence for a specific period might be the right time to re-evaluate your car insurance cover. If you aren’t driving as far or as frequently as you used to, you might be paying more than you need to.

In-car technology can also be particularly useful for ageing drivers. For example, you can find cars with lane departure warning systems that automatically alert the driver if they drift outside of their lane, and many other advanced safety features. Some insurers will recognise the safety benefits of these features with lower premiums, but this varies between insurers.

There are a lot of different factors that impact the cost of car insurance premiums. If your situation has changed, it might be time to take another look at the policies available. No two providers are alike and in special situations, such as if you’re driving with dementia, you might get substantial price differences between almost-identical policies. Compare a range of quotes when switching car insurance and find the insurer that’s right for you.

Even with an early-stage dementia diagnosis, it’s quite possible that you still have years of driving left.

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*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, (July ’22). 51% of car insurance customers could save £370.37

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