Legally, auto insurers cannot discriminate against handicapped motorists. However, there may be other reasons why they may have to pay higher premiums. Let’s have a look at the costs and complications.
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 conditions affect ability to operate a motor vehicle. Another study on the subject by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), revealed that modification dealers across 35 states made over 30,000 adjustments 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 condition. Why do they pay more than average motorists then?
Insuring Disabled Motorists
Although the ADA enshrines the rights of handicapped drivers there are a number of ways that companies can use loopholes to charge more to these people, sometimes rightly so or simply they do not provide protection needed to properly cover this group.
This group of people is a much smaller segment of policyholders and as such on the whole their claims represent a much smaller percentage than other demographic segments. However, with an altered vehicle, their claims can often be much more expensive to fix compared to a mass produced vehicle. Just like expensive sports or exotic automobiles, modified cars for impaired drivers also generally cost more to insure solely because of the repair charges. However, other demographic factors like age and gender will also weigh into how premiums are calculated.
In certain cases, medical condition may require people to provide proof by a doctor in order to get a license and will also be applied to getting 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 ability to operate an automobile. If you lose your license because of medical ailment you may be able to get auto insurance without a 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 insist on at least a BCVA 20/60 and New Jersey and Wyoming wants at least 20/50 in the better eye. There is not national standard for passenger vehicles and vision. Other restrictions may be in place depending on the state. For example, Massachusetts demands to distinguish colors red, green and amber.
However, carriers are not allowed, legally to charge higher premiums for these medical conditions.
Increased Costs for Disabled Drivers
Even though typical policies are federally legislated not to discriminate against motorists with handicaps, there are a number of ways that they end up spending more for it. The largest reason is simply to cover the added equipment, alterations and their special needs in the event of an auto accident.
Most policies have clauses that do not include ‘additional modifications’ to vehicles over a certain amount or beyond original manufacturer specifications. These clauses were initially used to protect carriers from the exorbitant costs to repair racing specifications that many people like to add to their vehicles. However, it has been borrowed and is applied to handicap adjustments, which has never been overturned in the court system.
In this way, if you are handicapped, you need to be upfront about the impairment to ensure that the policy you are quoted either does not include these clauses or that you get additional coverage. These are:
Adaptation/Modification Insurance pays for vehicle parts that are not original manufacturer parts.
Equipment Insurance adds the items carried in vehicles by many impaired persons like wheelchairs, electric scooters, oxygen tanks, crutches and other apparatus on the schedule with special endorsement. These items are necessary for their day to day lives.
Mobility Insurance: covers you for complete mobility access should you lose the use of the adjusted vehicle as most Rental Reimbursement provisions do not include taxis, mass transit or the rental of a vehicle that will meet the special needs.
Remember to use a quality quote tool like ours to ensure getting sufficient protection for all your needs. By getting multiple quotes you can find out which companies may not have these extras you need or those that may not include the necessary clauses.