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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it illegal for insurance companies to charge drivers higher car insurance rates solely based on their disability.
However, disabled drivers and passengers may pay more because of the safety risks of certain medical conditions, as well as higher costs to cover mobility-enhanced vehicles or disability-adapted cars such as wheelchair vans.
What is disability car insurance?
There is, in fact, no such thing as a disability car insurance policy. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents insurance companies from charging higher rates to disabled drivers and passengers strictly on the basis of their disability.
Disabled drivers will get the same car insurance policies as other drivers. However, drivers can choose add-on options such as mobility car insurance coverage, which can cover damage to specialized vehicles or custom equipment.
Disabled drivers and passengers may include people with the following conditions, though this list is not exhaustive:
- Amputee or paraplegic
- Cerebral palsy
- Hearing or vision loss
- Mental illness or neurological conditions
- Wheelchair use
Living with a disability or physical handicap doesn't mean a driver is at higher risk for an accident. However, there are some medical conditions that are considered driving impairments that can affect safety and require medical approval for drivers to legally be on the road.
If you have a disability or serious medical condition, be sure to discuss with your doctor how it affects your ability to drive. Doing so will help ensure your own safety and that of other drivers, and point out any potential safety risks that could affect your car insurance rates.
Car insurance costs for disabled drivers
Insurance companies may charge disabled drivers and passengers higher rates if:
- Their medical condition is considered a safety risk.
- It costs more to insure mobility-enhanced or disability-adapted vehicles.
However, federal law prohibits companies from selling more expensive car insurance policies to disabled drivers and passengers solely on the basis of their disability.
Disabled drivers and passengers should always disclose their medical conditions and vehicle modifications to their insurance company. If you don't, the insurance company could cancel your policy or refuse to pay for a claim after an accident.
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Disabilities and safe driving
Disabilities should only impact your car insurance rates when a medical condition or restriction on your driver's license increases the safety risk to yourself and other drivers on the road.
Insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charge disabled drivers more solely on the basis of a disability.
For example, if you have a State Farm auto insurance policy, you won't be charged higher rates for having a disability. However, you may be charged more if a disability causes an impairment that affects your ability to drive safely.
Epilepsy is an example of a medical condition that may increase driving safety risk and thereby raise quotes. A driver having a seizure can be a safety risk to the operator, their passengers and other drivers on the road.
Being diagnosed with epilepsy doesn't prohibit you from getting medical approval to drive. But conditions placed on your driver's license about a potential safety risk can allow insurance companies to charge higher rates.
If your doctor decides you're unfit to drive, they will likely tell the DMV or an appropriate state court to suspend your license. In some cases, a doctor will approve a disabled driver to be on the road, subject to certain conditions. For instance, people with serious vision loss may not be allowed to drive at night.
Any medical approval required to drive will be reflected on your driver's license. In these cases, car insurance companies can quote higher rates due to the increased safety risk.
Car insurance for wheelchair-adapted vehicles and other alterations
Disabled drivers and passengers often pay higher car insurance rates because of vehicle modifications that increase the value and repair cost of their car.
For example, if a wheelchair-accessible van costs $10,000 more than a standard van of the same make and model, a full-coverage insurance policy should cover both the car and its modifications.
Mobility-enhanced or disability-adapted car alterations can make your vehicle more expensive to insure. With extra coverage for these alterations, you will be covered for the car's higher value if you are in an accident, the car is damaged or it's stolen.
Be sure to disclose any car modifications to your insurance company so you do not risk losing coverage and reimbursement when filing an auto insurance claim. Car modification disclosures can also help ensure that all of the custom equipment in your mobility-adapted vehicle is properly repaired or replaced following an accident.
Commonly used disability-adapted equipment and vehicle accessibility modifications for disabled drivers and passengers include:
- Amputee rings
- Automatic doors
- Hand controls
- Keyless entry and ignition
- Parking brakes
- Pedal and seat belt extensions
- Power seats
- Siren detectors
- Special mirrors
- Steering devices
- Wheelchair ramps, adjustable seats and restraints
Coverages for disabled drivers and passengers
If you are a disabled driver or passenger, extra coverage options, such as roadside assistance and mobility car insurance coverage, can accommodate your disability and protect you in the event of injury or damage to your vehicle.
A standard full-coverage car insurance policy typically includes the following coverages:
- Personal liability reimburses for injuries or damage to other drivers and their property.
- Collision and comprehensive cover damage to your vehicle.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payments (MedPay) cover medical costs for you or your passengers in an accident.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist reimburses you for damage and injuries after an uninsured or underinsured driver crashes into you.
Other coverages that may be valuable to a disabled driver or passenger include:
- Roadside assistance coverage offers towing services, roadside assistance and pickup immediately following an accident.
- Adaption or special equipment coverage reimburses for damage to custom parts installed in your vehicle, such as wheelchair ramps or special mirrors. Be sure to confirm that your policy also covers equipment that is not necessarily attached to your car, such as a walker, wheelchair or motorized scooter.
- Mobility car insurance coverage reimburses the costs of temporary transportation if your disability-adapted vehicle is under repair following an accident.
How to find cheap car insurance for disabled drivers and passengers
The best way to find cheap car insurance is to shop around.
Rates vary widely by insurance company, in part because of how insurers determine safety risks and coverage for car modifications. That's why comparing quotes across insurance companies is always a critical first step.
Disabled drivers and passengers may also consider the following options to find cheap car insurance:
- Search for discounts: Car insurance companies typically offer multiple discount options for which you may be eligible. Examples include low mileage, senior driver, homeowner and loyalty discounts.
- Opt for a telematics, or usage-based, insurance policy: If you're a safe driver, a usage-based car insurance policy can save you up to 40% by transmitting your driving habits and mileage to the insurance company via a mobile app or a device in your car.
- Exclude yourself from the policy: If you are strictly a disabled passenger and do not plan to drive, you can exclude yourself from the policy and list another person as the named insured. Importantly, this will mean you technically do not have insurance coverage, but you may get lower rates if they do not require medical approval to drive.
Savings tip for car modifications
Many automobile manufacturers also have vehicle mobility programs that offer rebates as high as $1,000 to support any special modifications to your car or van. When buying or renting a car, you can also buy the appropriate disability-adapted equipment and get reimbursement directly from the manufacturer.
Some disabled drivers will elect to drive a moped or scooter instead of a car or van. You can shop around for moped and scooter insurance, as many large national insurance companies like Geico have reasonably priced scooter insurance policies.
What to know about auto insurance discrimination laws
If you are a disabled driver, or you are temporarily on disability and need car insurance, it is always important to know your rights to protect yourself against car insurance discrimination. An important federal law is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prevents insurance companies from charging higher rates to drivers solely on the basis of their disability.
Other federal protection laws prohibit companies from rejecting customers on the basis of their gender, race, religion and disabilities. You should also check local laws to find any extra protections for disabled drivers and passengers in your state of residency.
You can't be denied car insurance because of a disability.
Beyond disability discrimination, there are state protections you should be aware of.
- Several states have passed legislation that prevents insurance companies from using your credit score to determine car insurance quotes.
- Other places — California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and some parts of Michigan — have begun to ban car insurance gender discrimination, preventing insurance companies from using gender as a rate-bearing variable.
If you have a low income, are unemployed due to disability or are on Medicaid, these are not reasons to forgo car insurance, and there are often local resources such as disability-focused nonprofits that may help you find cheaper rates. Similarly, if you are a disabled veteran or military member, there are many opportunities to find cheap car insurance and policy discounts.
Frequently asked questions
Is there a car insurance disability discount?
No, there isn't a car insurance discount for disabled drivers. However, you can still get car insurance discounts for other things such as being a safe driver, being a homeowner or paying electronically. Also, a usage-based car insurance policy can help you save up to 40% based on your driving habits and mileage.
Can drivers with disabilities be turned down for a car insurance policy?
No, you can't be denied car insurance because of a disability. Similarly, insurance companies can't charge you more based only on a disability or medical condition. However, insurance companies can change your rates based on road safety risks such as having limited mobility, impaired vision or a risk of seizure.
Is there free or cheap car insurance for disabled drivers?
If you're a disabled driver facing high insurance costs, you may be able to get more affordable coverage through companies with cheap rates for high-risk drivers such as Geico or State Farm.