Auto insurance policies for people with disabilities can be a rather tricky thing.
On one hand, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits any insurance company from charging a higher rate for auto insurance to people who have a disability. On the other hand, some people with disabilities will pay higher premiums for their auto insurance policy.
So, what gives?
Let’s take a closer look at auto insurance for people with disabilities, including the laws surrounding it and what could cause insurance rates to be more expensive.
When the ADA was passed back in 1990, it gave people with disabilities certain protections under the law. Ultimately, the ADA prohibits any company, entity, or person from discriminating against people who have disabilities.
Covered under the act are insurance companies, which are prohibited from either charging higher rates, raising rates, or denying coverage to people solely on the basis of their disability.
Five years after the act was passed, how it relates to auto insurance companies was clarified further. In the court case of Higgins v. Warrior Insurance Group, a policyholder who had a mild disability sued Warrior Insurance Group and won a $175,000 judgment.
The insurance company was told they weren’t to consider any physical or mental disabilities when they were making a choice as to whether to continue or grant insurance coverage.
Insurance companies are allowed, however, to request a doctor’s note that would confirm the person is safe to drive a vehicle.
That being said, people with disabilities often do pay higher premiums for auto insurance coverage.
While insurance companies are barred from charging higher premiums for auto insurance policies based solely on a person being disabled, they may charge more for certain risk factors.
For example, people who have impaired vision are considered to be riskier drivers than those who have perfect vision. Most states allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums for auto insurance policies based on certain risk factors.
In addition to vision, this could include a person’s driving history and the history of the vehicle’s safety. Many states also allow insurance companies to factor in a person’s driving ability, gender, and credit score when they’re determining a final premium.
In other words, if a person’s condition would be considered a serious driving impairment, then the insurance company may be able to charge a higher premium for auto insurance policies.
Some people who have disabilities may need to have special modifications done to their vehicle so they can drive it properly. This could include a pedal extender, hand controls, steering mounted on the floor, a wheelchair lift or ramp, seats and belts that are adjustable for wheelchairs, and siren detectors for people who are hearing impaired.
These modifications alone wouldn’t increase the cost of the auto insurance policy or its premium. However, people who require these types of vehicle modifications may opt for supplemental coverage so the equipment is covered if it is ever damaged.
Many auto insurance companies will allow drivers to add supplemental coverage to their policy that would cover the equipment modifications. Most will require you to first have collision and comprehensive coverage before purchasing supplemental insurance. Once you do, you could purchase up to an additional $5,000 in supplemental coverage under most auto insurance plans.
If you don’t purchase this supplemental coverage, it’s possible that the repair and/or replacement of your modification equipment might not be covered by your general auto insurance policy. In most cases, an auto insurance policy will compensate drivers for the fair market value of their vehicle itself, but not personal modifications done — even if it’s for a disability.
Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Another consideration for people with disabilities is increasing personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. If you ever suffer an injury in a car accident, PIP coverage will pay for your medical expenses, medication, rehabilitation fees, surgery, and any lost wages if you miss work.
This PIP coverage will be capped at a certain amount that’s set when you purchase your auto insurance policy. If you believe that your medical costs could be higher due to your disability if you were injured in a car accident, it might be wise to increase your PIP coverage.
This is another time when your auto insurance premiums could increase. Generally speaking, the higher your PIP coverage, the more expensive your premiums will be — regardless of whether you have a disability or not.
Work with a Trusted Insurance Company
If you have a disability, it’s important that you work with a trusted insurance company such as Signature Insurance. Our experienced agents can help walk you through the process of getting the auto insurance policy that best fits your needs while reducing the cost of your premiums as much as possible.
If you need vehicle modifications, we can help you come up with the policy that would cover all of your equipment properly to ensure that, if you’re ever in an accident, you won’t have to worry about expensive replacements to this equipment.
At Signature Insurance, we have been providing top-notch service to drivers of all types in Michigan for years. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your unique situation, and to get a free quote.
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