Understand your coverage and ways to save on your modified vehicle
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Finding car insurance as a driver with disabilities can be difficult. According to a survey conducted by The Zebra, approximately 35% of the population believes that a driver's abilities (vision/mobility) are factored into their auto insurance premium. The truth of the matter is car insurance companies use factors related — and unrelated — to one's driving record to rate risk profiles and price policies.
In fact, most companies will ask if “you have any medical, nervous, physical, or mental conditions that would impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely?” prior to finalizing a quote. Drivers with vision, mobility, or other disabilities can be viewed as riskier clients to an insurance company and thus be charged higher as a result. Let’s explore this concept and some insurance coverage considerations.
This is a tricky question. Although there are laws in place which prohibit insurers from charging disabled drivers higher rates, insurance companies still practice this based on the pretense of risk. A driver with impaired vision is considered a riskier driver and customer than a driver without impaired vision to an insurance company.
In most states, insurance companies use a number of different risk factors to determine what you pay for coverage. The big things, like your vehicle and driving history, are directly related to car insurance. Other rating factors, such as your credit score, gender, and even driving ability, are correlations nearly every state utilizes.
Although you may feel it is discriminatory, you can be charged more for your insurance premium if an insurance company views your disability as a potential driving risk. In the event of a car accident, your insurance company is responsible for paying any necessary damages.
Your insurance company cannot determine if your disability impedes your ability to drive safely — that is something left to your individual DMV department as well as a medical professional. If you're uncertain about your own limitations, contact your state DMV department or more information.
If your disability requires specific modifications to your vehicle, you need to consider the aspect of your insurance coverage. If you have any special modifications to your vehicle, make sure you add supplementary coverage for it. Most insurance companies offer additional coverage for custom equipment but have certain stipulations.
Firstly, in order to qualify for the custom equipment, you must already have comprehensive and collision coverage. Next, if you want anything more than $1,000 in coverage (which might not be enough depending on your modifications), you need to add additional coverage. Most insurance companies will allow you to increase your limit on custom equipment to $4,000-$5,000.
Typical modifications to vehicles include:
If you have any of these modifications, make sure you have proper coverage. In the event of a total loss, your insurance company will only offer you the current price of your vehicle’s make or model, not including any requirements you made. The additional cost of this can vary by your vehicle, the modifications, and your insurance provider.
Without collision, comprehensive, or any added coverage, you will have no coverage in the event of an accident or total loss. Meaning, a liability-only policy offers you zero coverage — regardless of your disabled status.
In addition to coverage for your vehicle requirements, you should consider if you need any extra personal injury coverage. Personal injury protection, or PIP, can be helpful after an accident for providing medical after an accident. PIP covers the cost of:
This coverage will apply regardless of fault. Although it’s required in no-fault states, it might be a good idea if you’re worried about being unable to work after an accident or your health insurance coverage.
If your vehicle modifications are totaled in an accident and you've hit the limit with your insurance company's custom equipment coverage (or don't have any), we have some resources you can use for financial aid. If you’re looking for some frequently asked questions, see here.
Certain manufacturing companies (listed below) offer reimbursement programs for specialty equipment vehicles. Usually, this encompasses helping you pay for the cost of adding a van conversion, scooter lifts, wheelchair lifts, hand controls, tie-downs, turning automotive seating, or any other adaptive equipment you might need. The amount you'd receive varies by the company you choose but it can range from $500-$1,200. Here are some companies that participate:
If you're looking for some extra help, check out these resources:
Q: Can I get a discount on car insurance if I’m on social security?
A: Not directly. Insurance companies use your age and occupation status as rating factors but not if you’re currently on social security.
Q: Are there car insurance discounts for drivers with disabilities:
A: Generally, no. Standard insurance companies are not going to offer discounts based on your disability status directly. Global affiliated programs or non-profits might, however.
Q: Why is my disabled status an auto insurance rating factor?
A: Although there are laws from the ADA that prohibit this practice, many insurance companies still view and charge for your disabilities. Their job is to mitigate risk. In their eyes, a driver without complete control of motor functions or limited vision is simply a riskier client to insure. Depending on the specifics of your circumstances, many insurance companies will charge more or not insure you because of the risk.
Q: Will low-income status make it harder for me to get car insurance?
A: Your income is not an acceptable rating factor used by car insurance companies. For more information on this topic and ways to save, see here.
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