A question we get asked a lot by customers is do I have to tell my insurance company about the modifications on my vehicle? The below article is a good explanation of why rates go up and some challenges you may face because of modifications on your vehicle.
The year 1995 was apparently the last time the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) performed a survey on this subject and they estimated there were approximately 665,000 vehicles in the United States of America with some type of after-market modification made for drivers with disabilities. It is most likely safe to assume the number is far higher today when taking into consideration two wars, an aging population, as well as an estimated 10,000 new people who experienced a form of spinal cord injury each year. People with disabilities who drive and have a mobility-adapted vehicle face some very specific vehicle insurance challenges.
The Americans with Disability Discrimination Act of 1990 prohibits automobile insurance companies from refusing to sell car insurance to drivers with disabilities or charging them higher premiums. Unfortunately, some insurance companies choose to use a loophole in the law to raise the rates. It appears that insurance companies can refuse coverage or increase the premiums for vehicles that are highly modified. The law, which was intended to be applied to highly modified street racing vehicles, is at times used to discriminate against drivers with disabilities and their mobility-adapted vehicles.
The rationale of these insurance companies is that after-market adaptations and conversions such as wheelchair lifts add greatly to the value of a vehicle. They state that specialized add-ons increase the costs of repairing or replacing a mobility-adapted vehicle should an accident occur. If you are buying a modified vehicle, or making modifications to the one you already have, check with your insurance company beforehand to ensure your car insurance with cover it. Optimally, your policy should also reimburse for acceptable temporary transportation while your mobility-adapted vehicle is being repaired or replaced.
If you are a driver with disabilities and are looking for competitive car insurance quotes, be sure to fully disclose any all mobility modifications you have made to your vehicle. Modifications may include:
- Amputee rings
- Pedal extenders
- Push-pull hand controls
- Floor-mounted steering
- Wheelchair lifts and ramps
- Siren detectors for the hearing impaired
- Wheelchair-adjustable seats and seat belts
It is also important to make sure that any after-market mobility modifications are professionally installed by a person who specializes in this type of work. You do not want to discover after an accident that your insurance will not cover you because the equipment you have was not installed properly. Also, make sure that any specialized equipment that is not attached to your car, yet travels with you, such as a walker, wheelchair, crutches, or motorized scooter, are covered under your insurance policy. When you review car insurance quotes for drivers with disabilities and mobility-adapted vehicles, be aware that there are a couple of kinds of coverage:
Special Equipment Coverage: This type of coverage covers every aspect of vehicle adaptation.
Handicapped Equipment Coverage: This type of coverage will cover basic equipment such as a lift, yet will not cover a lowered floor, kneeling systems, a lockdown system, or similar adaptive driving equipment.
Be aware that insurance companies might be allowed to deny you coverage, or charge you higher premiums if there is documented evidence that the particular form of disability you experience makes you a risk to yourself or other drivers. For example; if you have diabetes, or have epilepsy and may experience a seizure or a blackout. If your state licenses you to drive you are entitled by law to fair and affordable vehicle insurance, despite the disability you may experience. When you are shopping for car insurance as a driver with a disability in relation to mobility-adapted vehicles, knowing your rights and the law is your best defense against discrimination.
Motor vehicle insurance companies have a variety of different things they take into consideration when they are assigning insurance rates. For each application, there is going to be a serious consideration of a person’s driving record, as well as several other things – such as the costs of restoring the person’s vehicle. If you are a driver with disabilities attempting to get vehicle coverage you should be aware of some of the challenges you may face in regards to obtaining a fair price for your insurance premium. After you are aware of the challenges that are present, you can do your best to face them and find out some ways to ensure that you save on your vehicle coverage.
While there are laws that prohibit insurance companies from refusing to sell coverage to drivers with disabilities and charing them higher prices for the coverage, there are ways that insurance companies may get away with increasing premiums. If you are concerned about this the best thing you can do is to shop around for insurance providers who are willing to work with you and accommodate your particular needs. You should not be forced to pay more for your premiums simply because you experience a form of disability.
The Cost to Repair or Replace, not Your Disability
Again, when an insurance company wants to charge more money to a driver with a disability they do not do so based upon the driver’s disability. Instead, these companies get around the law in America by attempting to charge additional money based upon modifications to a vehicle. At times, drivers with disabilities have to make serious modifications to their vehicles to get them to do the work they need them to do. In the process of doing so, they spend a lot of money – which means the vehicle is worth more. When this occurs, an insurance company may claim the value of the vehicle is increased.
If a vehicle is worth more it will cost more to repair and an insurance company may tell you that they are going to charge more for coverage on a highly adapted vehicle. The insurance company is taking the risk through insuring you and they are aware that modified vehicles are going to cost more to repair or replace. To make up for the additional risk they face, an insurance company may charge more money on monthly premiums. Interact with the insurance company to find out what you can do to get the cost of the premium down. You might have to make a case for some of the modifications to your particular vehicle.
Citation: Disabled World. (2013-03-23).
Direct Link: https://www.disabled-world