Does Having a Disability Affect Car Insurance Costs?

Quick Answer

Car insurance companies are strictly prohibited by law from increasing premiums based solely on the policyholder’s disability status. However, there are risk factors that insurers can consider that are associated with certain disabilities that could result in a higher monthly premium.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits auto insurance companies from charging you a higher rate on your policy solely because of a disability. However, if you have a medical condition that can impact your ability to drive or you have a modified vehicle, these and other factors could potentially impact your rates.

How a Disability May Affect Car Insurance Costs

The ADA provides significant protections to individuals with disabilities, primarily to protect them from discrimination. Part of the law stipulates that auto insurance companies can't use your disability as the sole reason to charge higher rates.

But there are ways that insurers can legally increase the cost of your insurance policy, as long as they're associated with an actual risk. In particular, there are two risk factors that could impact your premiums.

Safety Risk

If your disability has the potential to impact your ability to drive, it could result in higher premiums.

For example, if you suffer from epilepsy, narcolepsy or another condition that could cause you to lose consciousness or control of your faculties, an insurer could raise your premiums or deny coverage altogether.

Vehicle Modifications

For certain disabilities, it may be necessary to make modifications to your vehicle for better accessibility. These may include items such as amputee rings, pedal extenders, push-pull hand controls, floor-mounted steering, wheelchair lifts and ramps, siren detectors and wheelchair-adjustable seats and seatbelts. These modifications will generally require custom equipment protection coverage, which typically costs 10% of the total value of the modifications—for example, $6,000 in modifications would cost you an extra $600 per year.

Other Factors That Affect Car Insurance

Beyond additional costs and safety risk factors, car insurance carriers will consider several other factors about you and your vehicle to calculate your rates. Common factors include:

  • Driving history: If you've received multiple tickets in recent years or you've been involved in an accident where you were at fault, it could result in higher premiums. More serious infractions such as a DUI or reckless driving can cause even higher rates and possibly result in denial. Insurers will also consider how long you've been driving.
  • Age: Younger drivers tend to pay more because they're less experienced, and senior drivers also typically get charged higher rates because they're at more risk of an accident.
  • Gender: Men generally pay higher insurance premiums because they're statistically more likely to file a claim. This is particularly true for male teens, who tend to have the highest rates.
  • Marital status: Historically, married couples tend to file fewer individual claims, so they often score lower premiums than single drivers, albeit not by much.
  • Location: Some areas tend to be riskier for drivers than others. For example, you can expect to pay more if you live in an urban area compared with a rural area. Additionally, some states have certain regulations that automatically result in higher premiums for everyone who lives there.
  • Insurance history: If you've had lapses in your coverage or you've filed multiple claims in the past, insurers may view you as a greater risk and hike your premium.
  • Mileage: The more you drive, the higher the chances of you getting in an accident. The less you drive, the more you'll save.
  • Vehicle: Some vehicles cost more to repair and replace than others, so if you have an expensive or unique car, expect an increased premium. On the other hand, cars with extra safety features may qualify for discounts.
  • Coverage levels: Extras such as collision and comprehensive coverage are based on the value of your vehicle, but if you're adding liability coverage, underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage and other add-ons, your premium will be impacted by how much coverage you choose to buy. This also includes your deductible: A higher deductible means more out-of-pocket costs when you file a claim, but it'll save you money on your monthly rate.
  • Credit score: In most states, car insurance companies are allowed to use a credit-based insurance score to help determine your rate. While they typically can't hike your rate solely based on bad credit, it can be used in conjunction with other factors to do just that.

Note that car insurance providers also typically provide a variety of discounts, including good student discounts, loyalty discounts and discounts for people who bundle multiple policies. While there aren't any discounts specifically for people with disabilities, make sure you take advantage of as many savings opportunities as possible.

Consider Additional Coverage

While you can opt to go without additional coverage for modifications you've made to your vehicle, don't expect your insurance policy to pay out if those modifications get damaged in an accident you caused or by other traditionally covered reasons. Options that may be useful for a person with disabilities include:

  • Mobility car insurance coverage: This add-on will reimburse you for the cost of temporary transportation if your modified vehicle is under repair following an accident.
  • Special equipment coverage: This option covers modifications you've made to your vehicle to make it accessible. Note, however, that some policies may require the equipment to be permanently attached to your vehicle. You may also want to check whether it covers things like wheelchairs, walkers and scooters.
  • Roadside assistance: If you've been involved in an accident, roadside assistance coverage can help you with towing and pickup, so you don't have to worry about getting home.

Improve Your Credit to Lower Your Rates

As previously mentioned, your credit history can impact your car insurance rates. While insurers don't use the traditional FICO® Score , their credit-based insurance scores consider many of the same factors.

As a result, it's crucial to monitor your credit score regularly and address issues as they arise. If you have some negative marks on your credit reports, it can take some time to recover. But as you work to establish good credit habits, you may be able to secure a lower insurance rate for your efforts.

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