UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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In 1990, the United States passed the Americans with Disabilities Act to prohibit the discrimination of people with disabilities. This act extends itself into many facets of society, including auto insurance. It prohibits auto insurance companies from raising insurance rates of the disabled, denying them coverage, or giving them higher insurance quotes. (In cases of severe medical issues, the car insurance company may require a doctor’s report which proves the individual is able to drive safely.)
In the famous “Higgins v. Warrior Insurance Group” case of 1995, the Warrior Insurance Group was accused of illegally terminating the insurance coverage of a policy-holder with mild retardation. The plaintiff was awarded $175,000 in this case, and Warrior was told to not consider mental or physical disabilities when deciding to grant or continue insurance coverage. Since the outcome of this case, insurance companies have been very careful to make sure they treat their disabled clients fairly.
It is important to note again that insurance companies cannot charge higher premiums based on disabilities. But despite the laws that protect the disabled, do they actually get fair treatment when it comes to auto insurance rates? At 4autoinsurancequote.com, we think that they don’t. We think that although the insurance companies do not directly discriminate based on handicaps/disabilities, there are many factors that indirectly affect Americans with disabilities that cause their insurance rates to increase.
There are very few studies involving disabilities and insurance costs, so we thought we would do our own.
4AutoInsuranceQuote.com took our survey to the streets of New York City to see if our theory that disabled individuals pay more than non-disabled individuals was true. To keep our investigation simple, we only surveyed United States citizens who happened to be the only ones on their insurance policy. They all knew exactly how much they were paying for auto insurance (meaning, they couldn’t say things like “I think I pay about $600”). They were all residents of one of the five boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Bronx, or Staten Island). All were between the ages of 25 and 50. Our sample size was exactly 623 people and included 456 non-disabled individuals and 167 disabled individuals.
(Note – much of our surveying was done on patients at NYU Langone Medical Center who suffer from physical disabilities)
Here are our results (rounded to the nearest dollar, annual expense):
- Disabled – $2810
- Non-Disabled – $2193
As expected, disabled people paid the most for auto insurance. Not only did they pay the most, but they paid the most by a long shot. Our highest annual expense we came across in our study was also from a policy held by an African American suffering from epilepsy and confined to a wheelchair. He claimed to pay nearly $5000 annually to insure his Dodge Caravan. But why is this? Aren’t insurance companies supposed to adhere to the terms defined in the Americans with Disabilities act? Or are they simply ignoring them? Or is their another factor at play here? We searched online for answers.
Like with everything else, insurance companies use statistics to determine risk. In addition, basic coverage is pretty much the same price for every body (providing driving record, credit score, etc. are comparable). Insurance companies do not use disabilities, or even race, religion, or sexual orientation to determine premiums. Here are interesting pieces of information explaining why disabled individuals still pay more for auto insurance:
Insurance Add-ons That Disabled Individuals Might Need
Many individuals who are disabled need specially modified cars. This adaptive equipment can include (but not limited to) wheel chair lifts, specialized steering wheels, air bag removal, and ramps. Just as these vehicle modifications are expensive to install, they are equally as expensive to insure. Modifying your vehicle also means modifying your insurance policy to add on coverage for these modifications. These specialized policies can often times be very expensive and are one of the main reasons why the disabled pay more for auto insurance than the non-disabled.
If you are disabled, you may look for an insurance policy that includes one or more of the following:
Adaptation Coverage – Protection that covers damages to your vehicle adaptations. Many car insurance policies will only cover your vehicle and will not touch after-market modifications. The adaptation coverage will cover damages to your modifications as well.
Mobility Insurance – If something happens to your modified vehicle, you will be out of service and not be able to drive. Unfortunately, for the disabled, your average rental car is not exactly accommodating. You need something more specialized (which is what many rental car companies do not provide). What mobility coverage does is pay for a taxi or other forms of transportation that you may need while your adapted vehicle is down-and-out.
Equipment Insurance – Many disabled individuals carry needed equipment (apart from vehicle modifications) with them when they are driving. This equipment can include (but not limited to) wheelchairs, walking sticks, crutches, breathing apparatuses, etc. Although your car and adaptations are covered, your expensive medical equipment might not be. It would be wise to insure this as well in case an accident damages it.
Unfortunately, statistics do show that disabled individuals pay more for car insurance than the non disabled. This does not mean, however, that you will pay more for auto insurance just because you are disabled. As stated above, insurance companies do not use disabilities as one of their factors in determining your auto insurance premium. It is illegal for them to do so. It just so happens that the disabled population, many times, needs specific modifications done to their vehicles that can be extremely expensive to insure. Charging more $$$ for vehicle modifications, unfortunately is something the insurance companies are allowed to do.
If you happen to be a disabled individual in need of auto insurance, there are many inexpensive options for you. Don’t worry, the insurance companies are not out to charge you super expensive rates just because you are disabled. You can get low cost auto insurance rates just like everybody else simply by comparing prices online. There are many sites, like 4autoinsurancquote.com, that will provide you with price quotes for your vehicle (and your modifications, if need be). The insurance companies we work with here will NEVER discriminate based on your disability. They all adhere to the policies set forth by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.