Car insurance for disabled drivers
Find out how to find the best car insurance deal as a driver with a disability and avoid the risk of invalidating your policy.
Thanks to the Disability Discriminations Act 2005, drivers with a disability can be confident they’ll never pay more for car insurance as a direct result of their disability. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t unique factors to consider, or that there aren’t tactics to employ that can save you money on your car insurance. In this guide, we round up the key things you need to know about car insurance for drivers with a disability.
What is disabled driver car insurance?
Put simply, disabled driver car insurance is car insurance that covers people with disabilities to drive cars on UK roads. In many cases, the nature of the cover you need will be no different to anyone else. However, there may be cases when a disability means that you need certain modifications to your car in order to drive it safely or to make it accessible. In such cases, you’ll need to inform your insurer about the modifications you’ve made.
It’s also a requirement that some medical conditions, including some disabilities, must be reported to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). If so, you’ll also need to let your insurer know that you have a reportable condition. However, under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, it is an offence for any insurer to refuse car insurance or charge higher premiums to people with disabilities.
What car insurance do I need if I’m a driver with a disability?
As a driver with a disability, you’ll need the same car insurance cover as anyone else. At a minimum, you’ll need third party car insurance. This is a legal requirement to drive on UK roads, as it covers you for harm you cause to other people or their cars or property. However, it doesn’t cover you for damage to or loss of your own car.
Alternatively, you can choose one of the two higher insurance levels. These include third party cover as well as some extras:
- Third party, fire and theft insurance will also pay out if your car is stolen or damaged by fire.
- Comprehensive insurance adds on theft and fire damage, plus damage caused by other risks such as an accident or weather damage.
As a driver with a disability, you may be more reliant on your car to get about. Plus, you may have spent time and money on modifications to make it accessible. With this in mind, comprehensive cover may be your best option, as lower levels of cover won’t guarantee your car gets repaired or replaced.
What’s covered by disabled driver car insurance?
The risks you’re insured against will depend on the level of cover you opt for, plus any optional extras you choose. But if you go for comprehensive cover, you’ll be protected (as a minimum) against:
- Injury to other people and damage to their vehicles and property following an accident or collision that was your fault
- Damage to your own car following an accident or collision
- Theft of your car
- Vandalism or malicious damage to your car
- Damage to or destruction of your car due to fire, flood or other extreme weather
Do I need to tell my insurer about modifications to my car?
Yes. In fact, failure to do so could invalidate your policy. This isn’t a risk you want to take. If any changes have been made from the factory fittings of your car, you must tell your insurer. For example, if you have a physical disability, you might have modified your car by:
- Fitting a specialised steering wheel
- Adding wheelchair clamps, ramps or lifts
- Altering the pedals
- Removing some seating to fit in a wheelchair or other essential equipment
Accessibility-driven modifications are unlikely to affect your car insurance premiums as much as modifications made to boost a car’s performance, for example altering the suspension or adding a supercharged engine. However, if they are likely to increase the cost of repairing or replacing your car, you may still see premiums rise a bit.
Make sure you confirm with your insurer that essential (and potentially costly) modifications will be replaced along with the car if it is written off.
What isn’t covered by disabled driver car insurance?
Like any policy, standard car insurance for drivers with a disability comes with a bevy of exclusions. Things that are likely to render your policy invalid include driving a car that isn’t roadworthy, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or taking your car around the race track.
2 key exclusions for drivers with a disability to be aware of are:
- Failure to tell your insurer about modifications, whether made by you or a previous owner.
- Omitting key facts, whether deliberately or unintentionally. So don’t, for example, be tempted to withhold the fact you have a DVLA-notifiable disability from your insurance application. Not only will it invalidate your insurance, but it’s almost certainly pointless as insurers are not allowed to discriminate (including by charging more) on the basis of disability.
What optional extras can drivers with a disability add to their car insurance?
Whenever anyone gets a car insurance quote, they’ll be offered a range of insurance add-ons that they can pay extra to add to their policy. These can be many and varied. Some of the ones most worth considering as a driver with a disability might include:
- A courtesy car. This might be important if your car has to go in for repair after an incident. Before paying extra for a courtesy car, though, check that it will have the features you need to drive it safely and comfortably – including being adapted for your disability.
- Alternative transport. If a suitable courtesy car can’t be made available, look for cover that will pay for taxis or other forms of public transport if your car is in the garage following an accident.
- Breakdown cover. Adding this on to a car insurance policy can be an affordable way to guarantee a recovery service will come out if your car conks out. Check what level of breakdown cover is included. Not all policies cover cars that break down at or near home, for example.
Bear in mind that some, typically more premium, policies may include some of these features as standard. If they do, keep an eye on the level of cover of each to make sure it meets your needs.
For a fuller round-up of the add-ons that are likely to be available, take a look at our guide to car insurance optional extras.
What car insurance features are the most important for drivers with a disability?
No two drivers are the same, so only you can prioritise which features matter most to you.
That said, in addition to the potentially useful add-ons we’ve outlined above, features you might want to look out for include:
- Cover for accessibility equipment that you carry in your car, such as your wheelchair or freestanding ramps. This may come under the personal possessions part of your cover; this also covers other personal belongings such as tech gadgets.
- Cover to repair or replace any accessibility modifications you’ve made to your car if required. For example, the addition of swivel seats or a built-in wheelchair hoist or ramp.
- The ability to add named drivers, for example if you want a carer to be able to drive your car. Most insurance policies let you add named drivers, but it’s worth double checking.
How can I lower the price of car insurance?
Whether you have a disability or not, there are plenty of tactics you can use to keep your car insurance premiums as low as possible. These include:
- Don’t assume that third party insurance is cheapest. Contrary to what you might expect, comprehensive car insurance often costs less, as well as providing better cover.
- Pay annually. Paying for your car insurance in a single lump sum each year is cheaper than paying in monthly instalments where interest is added.
- Up your excess. This is the amount you’ll need to contribute in the event of a claim. Typically, the higher the excess, the lower your premiums. Just don’t set your excess so high that you can’t afford to pay it if you need to.
- Drive safely. By doing so, and avoiding making claims, you’ll build up your insurance no-claims bonus. This can yield discounts on your premium of up to 60-70% after a few years. Careful driving also reduces the risk of getting points on your licence, which can drive up premiums.
- Consider a telematics policy. Also known as “black box” insurance, telematics insurance monitors your driving habits using GPS technology and rewards safer drivers with cheaper premiums. You can also get forms of pay-as-you-go telematics insurance specifically aimed at people who don’t drive that much.
- Boost security. Having a car alarm or immobiliser may earn you a discount from your insurer, as could parking in a secure location such as a private driveway or garage.
- Consider adding a low-risk named driver. This could be particularly valuable if you are considered high-risk by insurers, perhaps because you’re young and less experienced or because you have points on your licence. Adding an experienced, low-risk driver could cut your premiums because the insurer will assume the named driver is using the car at least some of the time.
- Shop around. Insurers all have their own pricing criteria. The cheapest policy for one driver may not be the cheapest for another. Compare both prices and benefits offered to find a policy option that fits your needs and budget.
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Do I need to contact the DVLA if I have a disability?
If you have a disability (or any other medical condition) that could affect your ability to drive, you must inform the DVLA. This applies when you first develop such a disability, and if any existing disability gets worse.
If you fail to inform the DVLA you could be fined up to £1,000, and potentially prosecuted if you have an accident.
DVLA reportable medical conditions and disabilities
Reportable medical conditions and disabilities are anything that could affect your ability to drive. They could include:
- Epilepsy: Every person with epilepsy will be independently assessed for their fitness to drive. They may have restrictions placed on their licence or their licence suspended until they have gone a certain period without “awake” seizures.
- Mental health conditions: Whether the DVLA needs to be informed depends on the nature and seriousness of the condition. If you suffer from depression or anxiety but do not have problems that could affect your ability to drive safely (such as difficulty concentrating or suicidal thoughts), you are unlikely to need to inform the DVLA. If in doubt, check with your doctor. However, conditions such as psychosis or chronic schizophrenia are likely to be reportable.
- Neurological conditions: Such as motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or narcolepsy. As these conditions can change in severity over time, the DVLA may restrict your licence or, in serious cases, suspend it.
- Physical disabilities: These may include amputation of a limb or paraplegia, for example. If you need an adapted vehicle, the DVLA is likely to reflect this on your licence.
- Strokes: Car or motorcycle licence holders only need to inform the DVLA if they’re still having problems 1 month after a stroke. If you’ve suffered from a stroke, you should not drive at all during the first month. However, you must inform the DVLA if you hold a licence as a bus, coach or lorry driver.
- Visual impairment: There are strict rules on minimum eyesight standards for drivers. Regular eye tests are important to ensure you meet these standards. If you only have sight in one eye but are still able to meet these requirements, you do not automatically need to inform the DVLA as a car or motorbike driver (the rules are different for bus, coach or lorry drivers). However, if you develop certain eye conditions (such as glaucoma or cataracts) that affect the eye or eyes you have vision in, you will need to tell the DVLA.
How do I notify the DVLA of medical conditions?
Different conditions and disabilities will require you to fill in different forms.
Depending on the nature of your condition and the DVLA’s assessment, it may adjust your licence. For example, it may record any need for an adapted vehicle on your licence. It may also place a 1-year or 3-year time limit on the licence, after which your condition must be reassessed in order to renew it. In some cases, if it is deemed that you are unable to drive safely, you may be asked to surrender your licence.
Do I need medical approval to drive if I have a disability?
Not automatically. However, you must surrender your licence to the DVLA if any of the following are true:
- Your doctor tells you to stop driving for 3 months or more
- Your medical condition affects your ability to drive safely and lasts for 3 months or more
- You do not meet the required standards for driving because of your medical condition
You can apply to get your licence back when you meet the medical requirements for driving again.
In addition, depending on the information you supply to the DVLA when you report a notifiable medical condition or disability, it may contact your doctor to ask for further information and seek confirmation that you are fit to drive.
In some cases, your insurer may also ask for written confirmation from your doctor that your disability does not make it unsafe for you to be behind the wheel.
What’s the Motability Scheme?
The Motability Scheme allows those who receive a qualifying government mobility allowance to use this towards leasing a new affordable car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, scooter or powered wheelchair. Qualifying allowances include the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment.
If you lease a car through the scheme, it comes with comprehensive car insurance in collaboration with RSA Motability included.
This means that you will not need to take out a separate car insurance policy during the lease agreement. However, take note of the exclusions of this insurance policy. For example, personal belongings are not covered, so you may wish to take out a standalone policy to cover these.
The insurance policy also automatically covers 2 named drivers. This can allow carers to drive your car, for example.
The scheme also includes car servicing, maintenance and breakdown cover.
Am I eligible for the Motability Scheme?
You can find out which mobility allowances qualify on the Motability website.
You must have at least 12 months’ award length of your allowance remaining.
What’s the Blue Badge scheme?
This scheme allows eligible people to buy a Blue Badge that they place in a clearly visible position in a vehicle. This could be on a car’s dashboard, for example. It allows those with mobility problems, or those who care for children with such problems, to park in designated disabled spaces, for example those closer to shops and public facilities.
How do I get a Blue Badge?
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can check eligibility criteria and apply for or renew a Blue Badge from your local council on the gov.uk website. The process in Northern Ireland is slightly different.
Blue Badges cost up to £10 in England, £20 in Scotland and are free in Wales. They usually last up to 3 years.
You don’t have to be able to drive to get a Blue Badge. For example, you may wish to apply for one that a family member, friend or carer could place in their car when you are a passenger.
Getting insurance as a driver with a disability should be no more of a hassle than for anyone else, provided that you’ve informed the DVLA and been cleared as safe to drive. Plus, you’ll need to make sure you let your insurer know about any accessibility modifications made to your car. As is the case for all drivers, the key to finding affordable car insurance cover that meets your needs is to shop around and compare policies every year. Doing so will help you secure the best possible deal, time after time.
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