Why Car Insurance for Some Disabled Drivers Costs More Than the Local Average

The cost of car insurance is highly regulated by each state, but sometimes it can appear unfair when examined from the surface level. Looking into the factors that go into each decision on what to charge a driver can reveal exactly why auto-insurance companies set their rates for specific groups. Understanding the reasons why some drivers pay more for car insurance can help you adjust your habits to save money in the long run as well if you're disabled.

Prevention of Discrimination

The same law that prevents discrimination in housing and hiring of disabled people, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibits insurance companies from charging more specifically for a driver having a disability. Even if there's a chance of the condition causing accidents, such as an epileptic seizure or an aneurysm, insurance companies are not supposed to terminate a plan or charge a higher rate as long as a doctor can provide a professional recommendation that it's safe for the driver to operate a vehicle. However, there is a major loophole in this law that some consider a fair way for insurance companies to protect themselves from higher costs.

Legal-Modification Loophole

Most disabled drivers who operate vehicles on their own rely on at least one small change or upgrade to their vehicle. For some drivers with paralysis or limited arm movements, extensive steering and pedal-control systems are necessary to give the driver safe independence. Unfortunately, these improvements don't come cheap and do increase the total value of the vehicle. This means that the insurer must charge more to cover the expected cost to repair or replace the vehicle after an accident.

Recent changes in the laws made this kind of premium increase legal, even for disabled drivers, although the law was originally designed to affect street racers who installed extensive aftermarket parts. Wheelchair lifts, specialty seats, and medical equipment like oxygen supplies all raise the value of a vehicle substantially.

Expanded Effects

These legitimizations of higher insurance rates for modified vehicles affect more than just disabled people who are independent enough to still drive themselves around. Caretakers who install equipment on their own vehicles to accommodate their family members or friends also pay more, even when they don't have a disability themselves and have no ADA protection at all. Vans and buses modified to lift wheelchairs and assist users with walkers also cost more to insure for nursing homes and public services, making it harder to run transportation programs that fit within the budget.

Secondary Factors

Of course, disabled drivers with no modifications to their vehicles should not face higher premiums than anyone else in a similar situation with the same exact vehicle. There are many secondary factors that cause higher car-insurance premiums that can apply to everyone, even if they don't realize anything is affecting their rates. For example, your credit rating can drop secretly due to a few late payments or missed bills and lead to a slightly higher rate the next time you renew your premiums. Accident rates, changes in local road statistics, and even depreciation of your vehicle can lead to higher premiums without any discrimination due to your disability.

Getting Fair Rates

Tell your insurance company from the beginning about all modifications to your vehicle and the nature of your disability. Consider investing in gap insurance if you're paying for the vehicle on a loan and don't want to end up losing a lot of money out of pocket if an accident totals the vehicle after it has depreciated. Drivers who travel fewer miles and take fewer trips each year should use that as a bargaining chip to negotiate lower premiums, especially if they have a clean driving record.

Talk to companies such as Gateway Insurance to see what plans they offer.