Drivers with disabilities should not be prevented from securing auto insurance at a reasonable rate. In fact, it’s illegal for insurance companies to charge higher rates to drivers with physical or mental disabilities, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.[^1]

Although your insurance company can’t legally charge you a higher rate solely due to your disability, they can find indirect ways to raise your car insurance premium. You also may need to secure extended coverage because of costly but medically necessary accessibility modifications.

This quick guide will cover everything you need to know about disability car insurance, including why it might be so high and what you can do to make it more affordable.

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Your Premium?

Your insurance premium—the amount of money you pay each month to maintain coverage—is determined by a number of different factors. These often include but are not limited to:

  • The type of car you drive

  • The cost of your car

  • The size of your car

  • Nationwide theft statistics for your car’s make and model

  • Your location

  • Your past driving record

  • How many years you’ve been an eligible driver

  • The annual mileage you typically put on your car

  • Your age

  • Your credit history

  • Your gender

Your insurance company collects various personal facts and statistics to create a risk profile, which then determines your premium. Basically, the insurer wants to make an educated guess about how likely you are to get into accidents, which allows them to assess how risky of an investment it would be for them to insure your car.

People who pose higher risks are charged higher premiums.

For example, driving and car accident data proves that male teenagers are one of the riskiest driving demographics. For all drivers aged 16 to 19, the fatal crash rate per mile driven is almost 300% higher than for drivers over 20, and males account for roughly twice as many of those fatalities as females.[^2] Because of this, male teenagers pay some of the highest insurance costs of any demographic.

They use similar statistical evidence and decision-making to form conclusions about the rest of the key premium determinants.

Knowing Your Rights As a Driver with a Disability

When purchasing auto coverage, it’s important to know what kind of information your insurance agent can and cannot base your rates on. Insurance agents are legally required to evaluate a disabled driver by the same standards as any other driver.

Your disability may indirectly cause you to pay more for car insurance because you’re seeking additional coverage, for example, but the disability itself should never be a factor in price determination. If you believe that your insurance agent is discriminating against you by charging a higher rate because of your disability, there are a few things you can do:

  • You can simply walk away and find a better insurance agency. You can easily compare auto insurance quotes online from multiple providers for free. You may be able to locate an insurance company that offers cheap insurance for disabled drivers.

  • You can take your issue a step further by contacting your state’s Protection and Advocacy System. They fight on your behalf to ensure you and other people with disabilities are legally protected and treated fairly.

How Disabilities Lead to Higher Car Insurance Costs

Discriminatory insurance policies aside, you may want more coverage if you’re driving with a disability, especially if you’ve modified your vehicle to make it more accessible—and consequently more expensive. Some of these necessary yet costly modifications include:

  • Pedal extenders

  • Floor-mounted steering

  • Steering column extenders

  • Scooter or wheelchair lifts

  • Tie-downs to hold wheelchairs and other equipment securely

  • Hand controls

  • Siren detectors

  • Emergency brake extensions

  • Left foot accelerator

  • Transfer seats

If you need some or all of these vehicle modifications, you could spend tens of thousands of dollars. There are some driving systems you can purchase that fully upgrade and modify your car, like the Scott Driving System, which could cost you more than $100,000.[^3]

In addition to these costly technologies, you may have to pay for a doctor or occupational therapist to approve your fitness to drive or that you attend a driver rehabilitation program to be properly insured.

Purchasing Additional Coverage Due to Your Disability

If you do need to outfit your car with expensive technology and accessibility modifications, you’ll want to insure them, too. If your equipment were to be damaged in an accident, you certainly wouldn’t want to replace it all out of pocket.

There are a few different kinds of insurance coverage that drivers typically have, including:

  • Liability insurance – This is the most basic kind of car insurance and is legally required in most states. Liability insurance covers any bodily injury and property damage that you cause in an accident.

  • Collision coverage – Collision coverage helps you pay for damage to your own car after an accident, regardless of whether or not the accident is determined to be your fault.

  • Comprehensive coverage – This covers damage that happens to your car while you’re not driving it. Comprehensive coverage helps you repair or replace your car in the event of extreme weather, fire, falling objects, vandalism, theft, and more.

In order for a person with disabilities to receive additional coverage on their vehicle modifications, they usually need to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage first. Purchasing additional coverage that will help pay for vehicle modifications is usually built into your insurance plan as an add-on to collision and comprehensive coverage. In the industry, this kind of add-on is often referred to as custom equipment coverage.

Lowering Car Insurance Premiums for Drivers with Disabilities

Who doesn’t want to know how to lower car insurance costs? Every driver can benefit from discounted car insurance. Drivers with disabilities are no exception.

Here are a few things that disabled drivers—and anyone in the market for insurance, for that matter—can do to lower their rates:

  • Pay your yearly premium upfront – Many insurance companies will lower your total yearly cost if you provide the money upfront, rather than spreading it throughout the year in quarterly or monthly installments.

  • Bundle your auto insurance – Lots of companies that provide auto insurance also provide other kinds of insurance, like homeowner’s insurance or life insurance. If you bundle your auto insurance policy with one or more of your agency’s other insurance plans, you will likely get a discounted rate.

  • Drive safely – Most insurance companies encourage safe driving by offering a discount to drivers who maintain a clean driving record for a certain amount of time. There are also certain incentives in place, including discounts for consistently wearing a seat belt and refraining from smoking, drinking, and other distracted behaviors.

  • Go green – This kind of insurance discount is increasing in popularity as automotive technology evolves. You can lower your premium either by purchasing a vehicle with eco-friendly technology, or simply by driving fewer miles each year.

  • Study for your exams – If you’re a student, you can reduce your insurance bill just by getting good grades. Many insurance companies offer good student discounts.

Insurance companies can’t charge higher rates just because someone has a disability; however, they also don’t usually provide discounts to drivers solely on account of their disability, either. That being said, there are a few specific ways that disabled drivers can save money, including:

  • Lower state taxes – If you want to buy accessibility modifications for your vehicle and can provide a doctor’s prescription verifying that you need them, many states will waive the sales tax on your modifications.

  • Reimbursements from manufacturers – If you’re buying a car and know you’ll be modifying it with specialty equipment, the manufacturer may reimburse you for some of the cost. It won’t necessarily cover the entire purchase, but it can be a good start.

  • Contact the VA – The VA, or Department of Veterans Affairs, has several programs that help disabled veterans obtain cheap vehicles, apply for adaptive modifications, and receive other discounts for their service. If your disability came as the result of military action, get in touch with your local VA representatives about lowering your car costs.

Lower Your Rate by Comparing Insurance Quotes

As they say, knowledge is power. It’s not always easy to understand all the ins and outs of insurance coverage, but it can make a big difference.

Any driver who wants a lower rate should look beyond their current insurance agency. With Online Auto Insurance, you can easily access auto insurance quotes from across the industry in seconds—it’s not just fast, it’s also free.

Simply search by state or zip code to instantly get quotes from the industry’s best providers, like Allstate, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, Farmers, and many more. Online Auto Insurance also offers helpful advice to teach you about different kinds of insurance options so you know exactly how much coverage is right for your situation.

Stop settling for your inflated insurance premium and move on to better coverage at a lower price. Get personalized auto insurance quotes with Online Auto Insurance today.

Sources:

ADA. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, As Amended. https://www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Fatality Facts 2018: Teenagers. https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/teenagers

Driving Systems Incorporated. Scott Driving System. https://www.drivingsystems.com/scott-driving-system/

Notes

[^1]: ADA. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, As Amended. https://www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm

[^2]: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Fatality Facts 2018: Teenagers. https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/teenagers

[^3]: Driving Systems Incorporated. Scott Driving System. https://www.drivingsystems.com/scott-driving-system/