Driving and getting car insurance with diabetes

Are you diabetic? Learn more about how you can drive and get car insurance.

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Roughly 4 million Brits have diabetes and that number continues to rise. While some people will face some hurdles because of their condition, others won’t have to tell the DLVA. It all comes down to how severe your condition is.

Any rules regarding driving and diabetes are put in place to keep you and other road users safe. Should you have a hypoglycaemic event while driving, it could be a high-risk situation.

In this guide we explain your legal requirements as a diabetic driver and look at how your condition will impact your car insurance premium. While it’s not necessarily good news, we walk you through some tips for getting the cheapest deal possible.

How to drive legally with diabetes

There are four main things to do before you can legally drive with diabetes:

  • You must get assessed for chances of a severe hypoglycaemic event.
  • You need to work out if you should inform the DVLA, and get in contact if so.
  • You must meet the licensing requirements for driving with diabetes.
  • You must take special precautions before driving.

Driving after a severe hypoglycaemic event

A severe hypoglycaemic event is one where you need help, and you haven’t been able to treat it on your own.

If you have more than one of these while awake in a 12-month period, you have to stop driving immediately and tell the DVLA. So as soon as you have two, you need to get in touch.

Should your severe episode happen while at the wheel of your car, then there’s no leeway. You have to tell the DVLA after just one severe hypoglycaemic incident.

Unfortunately, this will result in your license being revoked. However, you can reapply for a new one after three months. You will have to give the DVLA permission to approach your GP and ask questions about your fitness to drive.

The licensing requirements for driving with diabetes mainly depend on how you’re managing your diabetes and what type of vehicle you drive. If you drive a car, you can see the DVLA rules below.

Insulin. If you discover you need to treat diabetes with insulin, you have to tell the DVLA. You will have to apply for a restricted license, which will last one, two or three years.

Temporary insulin (less than three months). You don’t need to tell the DVLA if you’re seeing your healthcare team regularly and following their advice. Your licence will last until you’re 70 or you move onto insulin permanently.

Other medication that can risk hypos. If you take sulphonylurea for example, you need to tell the DVLA if you have more than one severe hypo while awake.

Other diabetes medication. You don’t need to tell the DVLA about your condition, but your licence will expire when you turn 70.

Diet and exercise only. Again, you don’t need to tell the DVLA, and your licence will last until you’re 70.

You’ll have to tell the DVLA about any diabetes-related health issues that could impact your driving too. Plus, you’ll need to get these separately assessed and have regular check-ups.

  • Vision testing. You’ll need to get an eye test each year if you have diabetes. Should you develop retinopathy, maculopathy or have a scotoma, you need to tell the DVLA.
  • Neuropathy. As this can affect your control of the car, you need to tell the DVLA. An adapted vehicle can help you cope with any nerve damage, and you can get a special type of licence for an adapted vehicle.
  • Sleep apnoea. This is a common health issue associated with diabetes, and one that puts you at a higher risk of having an accident. Should you have excessive sleepiness, you need to tell the DVLA and cease driving until symptoms go away.
  • Heart issues. Speak to your specialist heart-health team. Your doctor may advise you to stop driving for a few months or potentially longer.

What does diabetes mean for car insurance?

Anyone with diabetes has to tell their insurer about their condition and about any changes to their health.

If you fail to do so, the insurer might say you were in breach of your contract and refuse to pay out for a claim, regardless of whether it has anything to do with diabetes or whether you were at fault.

While you can expect your premium to go up, especially if you have a restricted license, there are ways to keep those pesky insurance costs down.

Shop around. This is crucial and can save you hundreds of pounds, so use comparison sites and get quotes direct from insurers.

Telematics policy. Getting a black box fitted in your car that measures the miles you cover, how fast you drive and at what times can slash costs.

Higher voluntary excess. This is the amount you pay for a claim out of your pocket before the insurance money kicks in. Agreeing to a higher excess could get you a lower premium.

Security. Leave your car in a locked garage overnight and your insurer might reward you with lower costs.

Precautions you need to take before driving

Make sure you’re medically and legally ready to hit the road by doing the following:

  • Have a diabetes wristband so you can get medical help quickly.
  • Inform the DVLA about your condition if you’re required to.
  • Have your feet and eyes checked every 12 months.
  • Ensure you have no untreated daytime drowsiness or sleep apnoea.

Before driving, you should go through this checklist:

  • Check your blood glucose levels. It should be above 5mmol/L before you get behind the wheel.
  • Have access to a fast-acting carbohydrate while driving, such as jelly beans, fruit juice or a soft drink.
  • Check your blood glucose level while driving, either through flash glucose monitoring or continuous glucose monitoring.

And while driving, you should remember to check your blood glucose level at least every two hours and to stop driving if it’s below 4mmol/L.

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