In an ideal world, insurance companies would allow you to start a policy without making a payment. After all, car…
Car insurance is a necessity for every driver, even for drivers with disabilities. For people with mental or physical handicaps, navigating car insurance markets can be more difficult. If you are disabled but are medically able to drive, you have the right to fair access to car insurance.
If you believe your rates have increased due to your disability, let us help you understand your rights as well as resources for finding the right coverage.
What Are Your Rights?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990. According to this breakthrough act, certain rights and protections became available to those with disabilities living in America. Under this act, it’s illegal for insurance companies to charge higher rates to a person due to their physical or mental handicap.
Your auto insurance provider may request that you get a note from your doctor to verify your ability to drive. As long as you disclose your disability to the insurer, they are legally obligated to charge fair rates.
Disabilities that may be considered “more severe” and require medical approval:
- Medical Conditions (Diabetes & Heart Disease)
- Physical Disabilities
- Neurological Disorders
- Visual Impairment
These particular disabilities are deemed “more severe” due to the risk of fatal accidents. Again, be prepared to give proof of medical approval to drive if you have any of the above disabilities.
The Basics of Insurance Coverage for Disabled People
Again, it’s illegal for car insurance companies to increase your premiums based on your disability. Insurance companies cannot tell you are not cleared to drive. Your doctors and local DMV are the only ones that have the power to do so.
In essence, your car insurance should be no different from anyone else’s. However, there may be some modifications your vehicle needs for you to operate it.
Coverage for Additional Special Features
Although there are legal loopholes that we’ll discuss later, insurance for drivers with disabilities should cover car modifications. Premiums on modifications should not come as a high premium.
- Common Vehicle Modifications
- Amputee Rings
- Car Seats and Restraints
- Hand Controls
- Automatic Door and Window Openers
- Pedal Extenders
- Lifts and Ramps
- Raised Roofs/Dropped Floors
- Siren Detector
- Left Foot Accelerators
- Wheelchair Turner
There are some types of coverage you will want to look for when purchasing a policy for accommodations:
- Adoption Coverage: This will cover damages to any of the car modifications, and it includes aftermarket modifications.
- Equipment Coverage: Equipment insurance covers any special equipment not connected to your car but that travels wherever you go, like a wheelchair or scooter.
- Mobility Insurance: If anything happens to your vehicle, this coverage will reimburse the cost of temporary transportation you need to get around.
Disability Rights by State
If you are unsure about auto insurance, make sure you learn your rights. No state laws should differ since the ADA is a federal law. If you feel you are being discriminated against, please contact your state’s disability advocate. You can find your local office here to learn your options for remediation. You can also call your local Department of Justice ADA Information Specialist at 800.514.0301.
Loopholes for Insurance Companies
Some insurance companies just don’t want to help you with coverage. Again, if you suspect this to be the case, call your local ADA advocate. Insurers may try to use one legal loophole to avoid covering a person with a disability. If your car is “highly modified,” they may try to cite a law pertaining to the regulation of racing modifications.
Tips for Disabled Drivers
- Disclose Your Disability: Insurers must give you coverage if you have a disability. By refusing to disclose your mental or physical disability, you may be leaving money and coverage options on the table. Tell your insurer what you need so that you can receive the proper coverage. Be ready to talk to your doctors to get approval if your insurer asks for proof.
- Know Your Rights: Knowledge truly is power. By knowing your rights under the ADA and what obligations auto insurance companies have, you will guarantee the coverage you need. Do you plan on making modifications to your vehicle? Then talk to your insurer as they may have special endorsements to add to your plan that protects your property.
- Use the Resources Available to You: From the federal to city level, find your advocates and organizations that have the ability to protect you. If at any point you feel that you are being discriminated against, get a hold of someone in your resource pool.
- Practice Safe Driving: Like we tell all our drivers, practice safe driving. This will keep your premiums down and you safe. Traffic tickets and moving violations will also result in higher premiums.
Getting the Guidance You Need
To ensure you’re getting the coverage you need to cover your disability while driving, contact us for a quote. We’re here to guide you through the process and secure your specialized auto coverage.