Understand your coverage and ways to save on your modified vehicle
If you’re a labeled as a disabled driver, you might believe you can be charged higher for auto insurance. In fact, according to a survey we conducted, around 35% of the population believes that your abilities (vision/mobility) are factored in your insurance premium. But however, because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is illegal for insurance companies to charge an individual higher rates because of a physical or mental disability. Car insurance companies must rate every driver by the general industry standards and those alone. Still, because of the unique challenges that include driving with a disability (specifically your vehicle modifications), finding the best coverage for the cheapest price can be somewhat difficult. But it is possible! Let’s get to it.
As we stated, it is illegal for insurance companies to charge you more based solely on your disability — whether it be physical or mental. While there are many other factors, the main things your insurance company will look at is your driving history, credit score, and vehicle type. For more information on what goes into your insurance quote, see here.
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.
The most important and tricky thing about driving a vehicle modified for a disability is that you usually have to purchase additional insurance for the specific modification. Fortunately, lots of 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 have to pay an additional increase in your premium. Most insurance companies will allow you to increase your limit on custom equipment to $4,000-$5,000.
If your company does not offer custom parts and equipment through your comprehensive and collision coverage or you do not have the comprehensive or collision coverage to start with, you won't be covered for damages to your vehicle if you're at-fault. If you do have the additional custom equipment and parts coverage, but only the $1,000 limit, that is all you will be given to repair your modifications.
In keeping with this theme, you should appraise your modifications, such as a wheelchair adjustable seats, or push-pull hand controls, and see if they are worth increasing your limit. But as we said, most companies will allow you to increase your limit to $4,000 or $5,000.
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.
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:
Department of Veteran Affairs: If you were disabled while serving our country, the VA may have some options for you in terms of getting your car accessible.
The Mobility Resource: The mobility resource is an internet marketplace for finding wheelchair accessible vans across the US.
National Organization for Vehicle Accessibility: (NOVA) works nationally to provide vehicle modification grants for those who are in financial need.
Accessibility Center: A website showcasing new trends in accessibility with over 100 dealerships across the US.
Accessible Vans of America, LLC: This is specifically for rental accessible vans.
Adaptive Driver Education: Provides training for your adaptive equipment.
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