Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Oct 14, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • If you can safely operate a car, car insurance companies can’t discriminate against you because of a disability
  • Disabled drivers must be medically able to drive according to a medical expert if they want to keep their driver license
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal for all carriers to charge disabled drivers higher rates
  • You need to be upfront about your mental or physical disability because your claims could be denied in the future
  • If you make adaptions to your car you must get special coverage for the modifications

If you suffer from a mental or physical disability, you’ll have to modify your lifestyle to enhance daily life.

While many persons with disabilities are intimidated at the thought of operating a vehicle for the first time, being disabled doesn’t automatically mean you can’t ever earn the privilege to drive.

You might need a special vehicle or adaptation equipment, but you can still enjoy life as a licensed driver. There are more than 60 million Americans in the country living with some form of disability.

Out of these millions of people, a large percentage of disabled Americans can drive. If you’re shopping for an accessible car, make sure you know how your disability might affect your ability to find car insurance.

Enter your zip code into our free comparison tool above to find the best rate for the car insurance you need.

There’s an Exclusion Written Into All Auto Insurance Policies

Insurance companies must have some protective barriers written into their property and casualty contracts. That’s why a policy that covers all types of risk will have an entire section on the company’s policy exclusions.

Some of the most common exclusions are for damage caused by wear and tear, but there are more.

If you suffer from a disability, you might be classified as uninsurable depending on the condition.

Insurance companies are only justified in canceling a policy or declining an application for coverage if the driver has a condition that makes them medically unable to drive.

Basically, the same conditions that would make you ineligible for a driver’s license would make you uninsurable:

  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimers
  • Dementia
  • Arthritis
  • Severe eye ailments
  • Side effects of medication
  • Parkinsons or chronic disease

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Auto Insurance Companies Can’t Discriminate Against Drivers

If you’re medically able to drive a vehicle, insurance companies aren’t legally allowed to deny you coverage because you’re a disabled driver.

Protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibit insurance companies from charging someone with any type of disability higher rates.

If you’re charged more because of a physical or mental disability, it’s classified as an unfair and discriminatory rate. If you have reported your medical condition to the DMV, you’ll have to go through the medical review process.

You’ll have to prove documentation from your doctor to support your argument that you’re able to safely drive. The insurer may ask for these documents as well.

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What can you do if you feel you’ve been discriminated against?

If you’ve been denied insurance and you believe you were discriminated against, you have the right to contact your state’s department of insurance to file an official complaint.

The department will review your complaint and may penalize the company if the investigation shows there was discrimination.

What rating factors can affect your premiums?

The ADA prevents auto insurance and other property insurers from charging disabled policyholders different rates but there is still a long list of factors that can be used to calculate your insurance premiums.

These factors are the same factors that will be used for any applicant:

  • Age, gender, marital status
  • Driving experience
  • Vehicle year, make and model
  • Claims history (at-fault accidents)
  • Non-fault accidents and comprehensive claims
  • Moving violations in the last three to seven years
  • Zip code where the car is parked
  • Credit-based insurance score
  • Occupation
  • Vehicle usage
  • Annual mileage

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How to Get Coverage When You Modify Your Car

If you have a physical disability that requires you to modify your vehicle so that it’s accessible and easier for you to operate, make sure that you inform your insurance carrier.

You can’t install adaptive equipment to your car so that it will accommodate your disability and expect the insurer to automatically cover the adaptations and equipment. Some of the adaptations that insurers will cover include:

  • Accelerator and brake pedal extenders
  • Adjustable seats for wheelchair access
  • Push-pull hand control
  • Auditory equipment like siren detectors
  • Amputee rings
  • Other mobility-enhancing additions that are permanently attached to the vehicle

What is adaptation coverage?

Insurance companies will exclude certain adaptions made to vehicles if the adaptations make the car faster. The necessary adaptations that are made to your vehicle to accommodate your disability should be covered at a reasonable price.

You’ll have to ask your insurer for adaptation coverage. Each modification may have to be named on the policy and you’ll have to provide receipts that show the value of the additions made. You’ll have coverage for the stated amount of your proof.

If you have mobility or adaptive equipment that’s not permanently installed in your car, you’ll need to look for coverage for the specialized equipment. Scooters and wheelchairs should have their own coverage or they may be covered under your property insurance.

What happens if you’re being dropped because of a disability?

If you have a claim and you disclose that your medical condition affected your ability to avoid an accident, it’s quite possible that you’ll get a letter saying the insurance company is going to drop you. You’ll be given a short period of time to respond or get coverage elsewhere.

When insurers are dropping you because you have a medical condition making you unqualified to drive, you can respond by producing a physician’s certificate attesting that you can drive safely.

When you can’t produce this proof in time, your coverage will cancel.

If you’re looking for affordable coverage on your adapted vehicle, make sure that you shop around in the marketplace.

Use our online rate quote tool to get instant car insurance quotes in minutes and you’ll find a value-priced plan you can’t turn down.