According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in the U.S., there are 75.4 million Americans that suffer at least one basic function difficulty or complex activity limitation, which represents 32.9% of the population. Not all of these disabilities affect the ability of the driver. Another study on the subject by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), revealed that modification dealers across 35 states made over 30,000 modifications to over 10,000 vehicles.
At the same time, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 secure the rights of disabled drivers not to suffer discrimination based on their disability. Why do disabled drivers pay more insurance than average drivers then?
Insuring Disabled Motorists
Although the ADA enshrines the rights of disabled drivers there are a number of ways that insurers can access loopholes to charge more for these drivers, sometimes rightly so or simply they do not provide the coverages needed to properly insure this group of drivers.
This group of drivers is a much smaller segment of drivers and as such on the whole their claims represent a much smaller percentage than other demographic segments. However, with a modified vehicle, their claims can often be much more expensive to fix compared to a mass produced vehicle. Just as expensive sports or exotic cars cost more to fix and therefore more to insure, modified cars for disabled drivers also generally cost more to insure because of the vehicle’s repair cost not the driver. However, other demographic modifiers like age and gender will also weigh into how insurance premiums are calculated.
In certain cases, your medical condition may require you to provide medical proof by your doctor in order to get a license to drive and will also be required to get auto insurance. Typically those suffering from disorders that cause fainting or blackouts like epilepsy or diabetes require a doctor’s note providing an affirmation that it will not affect your driving ability. If you lose your license because of medical conditions you may be able to get auto insurance without drivers license, providing you have a primary driver to add onto the policy.
There is however a visual acuity licensing requirement in all but 3 states of best correct visual acuity (BCVA) in the better eye of at least 20/40 or better, whereas Georgia requires at least a BCVA 20/60 and New Jersey and Wyoming require at least 20/50 in the better eye. There is not national standard for passenger vehicles and vision. Other restrictions include state to state requirements such as Massachusetts requirement to distinguish colors red, green and amber.
However, insurers are not allowed, legally to charge higher premiums for these medical conditions.
Increased Costs for Disabled Drivers
Even though typical insurance policies are federally legislated not to discriminate against drivers with disability, there are a number of ways that disabled drivers typically pay more for their insurance costs. The largest reason is simply to cover the added equipment, modifications and needs of disabled drivers in the event of an auto accident.
Most policies from most insurers have clauses that do not cover ‘additional modifications’ to vehicles over a certain cost or beyond original manufacturer specifications. These clauses were initially used to protect insurers from the exorbitant costs to repair racing modifications that many people like to add to their vehicles. However, it has been borrowed and is applied to disabled modifications, which has never been overturned in the court system.
In this way, if you are disabled, you need to be upfront about your disability to ensure that the policy you are quoted either does not include these clauses or that you get additional insurance coverages. These coverages should include:
Adaptation/Modification Insurance: covers your vehicle parts that are not original manufacturer parts.
Equipment Insurance: many disabled persons carry their equipment necessary for their lives in their vehicles including wheelchairs, electric scooters, oxygen tanks, crutches and other equipment. With this insurance you are covered for these items.
Mobility Insurance: covers you for complete mobility access should you lose the access to your modified vehicle as most ‘rental car’ insurance covers do not cover taxis, mass transit or the rental of a vehicle that will need to meet your needs.
Remember to use a quality car insurance quoting tool like ours to ensure your insurance provides adequate coverage for all your needs. By getting multiple quotes you can uncover which insurers may not have these extra insurances you need or those that may not include the ‘modification’ clauses in their policies.