First, it’s important to note that the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids insurance companies from charging higher insurance prices because of any disability. Your car insurance company cannot charge a higher rate because of your disability.
The act was enacted in 1990 to protect the civil rights of people in America with disabilities. The act makes it illegal for car insurance companies – or anyone else – to discriminate someone with a disability in any way. Today, that act continues to protect individuals with disabilities from car insurance companies.
There’s also a specific part of the ADA that deals with something called “transportation rights.” This part of the ADA states that individuals with disabilities have a right to travel without fear of discrimination, provided they can do so safely. This part of the act covers transportation on trains, buses, and taxis, among other methods of transportation, but it also protects individuals with disabilities and gives them the right to drive themselves.
As Long as You Can Drive Safely With your Disability, You Will Not Pay Higher Prices for Car Insurance
Here’s what the Americans with Disabilities Act all boils down to:
It’s illegal for an insurance company to charge higher rates to a driver with a disability provided that driver can drive safely. The individual is allowed to have any aids or technology they need to help them drive. As long as the individual can pass a driver’s test with these accommodations, the individual is allowed to drive regardless of his or her disability and a car insurance company cannot discriminate by charging higher prices.
It’s up to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to determine whether or not an individual with disabilities can safely drive. Your car insurance company is not allowed to determine whether or not you can safely drive.
If you can pass your state’s driving test, then you should be considered safe to drive.
Car Insurance for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles Works in a Similar Way to Ordinary Car Insurance
If you have car insurance on a wheelchair accessible vehicle, then that car insurance will work in a similar way to car insurance on any vehicle – assuming your car insurance company knows about the modifications on your vehicle.
A car insurance comparison form might ask if you have any modifications to your vehicle, for example. Be truthful when reporting your wheelchair modifications, and your car insurance should cover your vehicle and its wheelchair accessibility features.
You’ll need to meet a certain minimum level of coverage to drive legally on public roads. Most states require a specific minimum amount of property damage liability coverage, for example. You’ll need to meet these minimum limits to legally drive.
If you’re involved in an accident, then your car insurance will cover damages and repairs up to the limits of your policy.
If you only have bare minimum car insurance, then your insurance policy may not cover damage to your own vehicle – regardless of its wheelchair accessibility. If you want damage to your own vehicle to be covered in a collision, then you’ll need to buy optional collision coverage. If you want damage to your vehicle to be covered in all circumstances beyond collisions – say, vehicle theft or storm damage – then you’ll need comprehensive coverage.
If your car insurance covers repairs to your own vehicle, then it’s your insurance company’s duty to repair that vehicle up to the limits of your policy. The insurance company is required to repair the vehicle to its pre-loss condition. If the cost of repairing your vehicle is more than it would cost to replace your vehicle, then your vehicle is considered “totaled” and the insurance company will send you a check equal to the replacement value of your vehicle.
Overall, car insurance on a wheelchair accessible vehicle works similar to car insurance on an ordinary vehicle.
Some Car Insurance Companies Consider Vehicles with Wheelchair Accessible Modifications to Be “Highly Modified”
If you add an aftermarket spoiler and sound system to your vehicle, then your insurance company might consider your vehicle to be “highly modified”. That means all damages to your vehicle will not be covered in the event of an accident.
Some car insurance companies make a similar argument for a wheelchair accessible vehicle: they claim the wheelchair accessibility features in your vehicle are a modification.
There’s some controversy over this: some claim it violates the ADA. Others claim it’s within the insurance company’s right to charge higher rates because of vehicle modifications.
In any case, there are three things to remember when considering wheelchair accessibility on your vehicle:
- Full Disclosure: Fully disclose all wheelchair accessibility modifications on your vehicle when applying for insurance quotes. Sometimes, disclosing modifications will affect your quotes. In other cases, it will have no effect whatsoever.
- Equipment Coverage: Inquire about equipment coverage. Typically, the items inside your vehicle will be covered under your homeowners insurance policy. However, if your wheelchair is placed outside your vehicle (say, on a rack), then it would fall under your car insurance policy. Make sure your car insurance policy covers your wheelchair in this situation.
- Consider Raising Coverage Limits: Your vehicle is more valuable with wheelchair accessibility features than without it. It might only cost $10,000 to repair an SUV without a wheelchair lift and other features. However, that same vehicle might cost twice as much to repair when it has wheelchair accessibility features. Consider raising limits to ensure your vehicle is covered.
Conclusion: Talk to your Car Insurance Company
Remember: it’s illegal for your car insurance company to charge higher rates based on your disability.
Generally speaking, your car insurance policy will cover damage to your vehicle up to the limits of your policy. They’ll cover damage even when you have a wheelchair accessible vehicle – assuming you disclosed that modification when you purchased car insurance.
However, it’s always a good idea to call your insurance company to make sure your wheelchair accessible vehicle is covered. You may need to purchase a rider to make sure your wheelchair accessible vehicle is covered in all situations, for example.