Car Insurance for a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle [Expert Guide to Rates, Safety, & More]

Car insurance for wheelchair-accessible vehicles has higher rates since accessible modifications cost up to $80,000. However, wheelchair van insurance looks at the same things — like driving record, where you live, and other risk factors. Compare companies to save on car insurance for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses...

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®https://res.cloudinary.com/quotellc/image/upload/insurance-site-images/ciccom-live/41b5e36b-joel-ohman.jpg

UPDATED: Jul 22, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Insurance companies do not base their decisions on whether a potential client is disabled
  • They base their decisions on a potential client’s level of risk, which is fully allowed by law
  • Companies may also consider the degree of modifications you make on your vehicle due to your disability
  • Be sure to disclose your condition fully to get the best possible rates
  • Insurance claim losses are fairly average for vehicles that are most commonly wheelchair accessible

Since some disabled people are considered more of a risk to insurance companies than those who are not, some insurers use other criteria to determine rates.

This can end up with a higher than average bill on your car insurance for a wheelchair accessible vehicle. However, they also look at other factors to determine your rate. Read on to find out more about auto insurance for wheelchair accessible vehicles.

If you are physically challenged and looking for disability car insurance, make sure you have the right coverage. Just enter your ZIP code to start the comparison.

Things to Consider When Applying for Car Insurance for Your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

With this in mind, you may want to consider the following concepts when obtaining insurance for your wheelchair user accessible vehicle.

Full Disclosure — When looking into how to insure a wheelchair accessible vehicle, be sure to fully disclose all modifications to your vehicle. Different types of changes can have different effects on your rates.

You’ll need to tell your insurance company about all modifications that have been made on the vehicle. Does insurance cover hand controls for your handicap vehicle? That’s one thing it covers, as long as you disclose this modification to your insurer. This list from Disabled World shows some other modifications that need to be disclosed to your insurer.

  • Amputee rings
  • Floor-mounted steering
  • Pedal extenders
  • Push-pull hand controls
  • Siren detectors for the hearing impaired
  • Wheelchair-adjustable seats and seat belts
  • Wheelchair lifts/ ramps

It’s really important that these modifications were installed properly by a licensed installer. It would be really bad if you got into a car crash just to discover that your equipment isn’t covered since it wasn’t installed correctly.

Equipment Coverage — Make sure that any of the handicapped equipment, such as wheelchairs, are covered under your insurance. Wheelchairs that are going to be placed on the outside of your vehicle, as well as any other equipment that you take with you, should be covered.

Disability Classification — Fully disclose your specific disability to remove doubts about your level of risk while driving. Your rates may be determined based on the likelihood of an accident due to your disability but not because of the disability itself.

Ask for Details — Ask questions before signing up when you have a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. If you ask the right questions when you apply for insurance, you will be able to compare different types of insurance coverage adequately and make a more educated decision on your policy.

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What You Should Look for to Get Handicap Vehicle Car Insurance Coverage

If you are a disabled driver with a wheelchair accessible vehicle, you are entitled to coverage, as long as your disability does not interfere greatly with your ability to drive safely.

The law protects physically challenged persons just as it protects those who are not.

You must shop and compare insurance plans and fully disclose your disability, to get the best rates on your insurance.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that discrimination does not occur if insurance companies make their decision on your coverage on vehicle modifications, an extreme disability that increases your risk factor, or other situations that raise your risk level.

However, if you present the proper information regarding your handicapping condition, communicate with and ask questions, and compare policies, there is no reason why you cannot obtain suitable insurance for your wheelchair accessible vehicle.

Remember that your disability does not excuse you from following the law, and you are still fully responsible for driving safely and obeying all traffic rules.

Before you ever set out on the road, make sure you have your car covered. At the very least, that means liability insurance. The Insurance Information Institute (III) has compiled a list of liability requirements for each state. Search for your state below to see what you’re required to have.

Liability Car Insurance Requirements by State
StateInsurance RequirmentsMinimum Liability Limits
ALBI & PD Liab25/50/25
AKBI & PD Liab50/100/25
AZBI & PD Liab15/30/10
ARBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
CABI & PD Liab15/30/5
COBI & PD Liab25/50/15
CTBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
DEBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/10
DCBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/10
FLPD Liab, PIP10/20/10
GABI & PD Liab25/50/25
HIBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
IDBI & PD Liab25/50/15
ILBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
INBI & PD Liab25/50/25
IABI & PD Liab20/40/15
KSBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
KYBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
LABI & PD Liab15/30/25
MEBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM, Medpay50/100/25
MDBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/15
MABI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/5
MIBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
MNBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/10
MSBI & PD Liab25/50/25
MOBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/25
MTBI & PD Liab25/50/20
NEBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
NVBI & PD Liab25/50/20
NHFR only25/50/25
NJBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM15/30/5
NMBI & PD Liab25/50/10
NYBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/10
NCBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM30/60/25
NDBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
OHBI & PD Liab25/50/25
OKBI & PD Liab25/50/25
ORBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/20
PABI & PD Liab, PIP15/30/5
RIBI & PD Liab25/50/25
SCBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
SDBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
TNBI & PD Liab25/50/15
TXBI & PD Liab, PIP30/60/25
UTBI & PD Liab, PIP25/65/15
VTBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/10
VABI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
WABI & PD Liab25/50/10
WVBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
WIBI & PD Liab, UM, Medpay25/50/10
WYBI & PD Liab25/50/20
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BI and PD are bodily injury and property damage liability, respectively. UM and UIM and for uninsured and underinsured driver insurance. When you’re looking at these numbers, they might not make sense. So, let’s look at one.

California has a limit of 15/30/5. The first number refers to the limit for one individual, so $15,000. The second is the limit for all persons who get injured in one accident, so $30,000. The final number is for property damage, so that’s $5,000 in this case.

But that’s just the bare minimum. The chances are good that your car was pretty expensive, so you’ll want to get something that will cover your own damages if you get into an accident.

With the average cost of a brand new wheelchair-accessible vehicle at $80,000, that’s something you’ll want to protect. Even an older vehicle has specialized equipment that you’ll want to keep covered. Otherwise, you might have to pay out of pocket for repairs to your vehicle.

This video from Erie Insurance sums up the difference between the other two major insurance components: collision and comprehensive coverage.

You can see why it’s so important to keep your vehicle covered at all times.

How does your driving record affect your car insurance rates?

Your driving record is the single most influential factor on your premium rates, just as it is with a non-handicapped person. Just look at the table below to see how much one speeding ticket, at-fault accident, or DUI can affect your car insurance rates.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Driving Record
CompaniesRates with Clean RecordRates with With 1 AccidentRates with 1 DUIRates with 1 Speeding Violation
USAA$1,933.68$2,516.24$3,506.03$2,193.25
Geico$2,145.96$3,192.77$4,875.87$2,645.43
American Family$2,693.61$3,722.75$4,330.24$3,025.74
Nationwide$2,746.18$3,396.95$4,543.20$3,113.68
State Farm$2,821.18$3,396.01$3,636.80$3,186.01
Progressive$3,393.09$4,777.04$3,969.65$4,002.28
Travelers$3,447.69$4,289.74$5,741.40$4,260.80
Farmers$3,460.60$4,518.73$4,718.75$4,079.01
Allstate$3,819.90$4,987.68$6,260.73$4,483.51
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$6,204.78$7,613.48$5,701.26
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If you even get one speeding ticket, your rates can go up anywhere from 12 to 24 percent with these major insurers. One accident that’s your fault is worse at an increase of 20 to 49 percent. But, if you get a DUI, that’s the worst offender. These increases range from 17 to 127 percent, with Geico being the highest increase for this offense.

How does your credit history affect your car insurance rates?

Credit is a pretty big factor, too. Unless you live in a state that has passed legislation that prevents discrimination based on factors like your credit history, you’ll be seeing a difference here.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Credit History
CompainesRates with Fair CreditRates with Good CreditRates with Poor Credit
USAA$2,219.83$1,821.20$3,690.73
State Farm$2,853.00$2,174.26$4,951.20
Geico$2,986.79$2,434.82$4,259.50
American Family$3,169.53$2,691.74$4,467.98
Nationwide$3,254.83$2,925.94$4,083.29
Farmers$3,899.41$3,677.12$4,864.14
Progressive$3,956.31$3,628.85$4,737.64
Travelers$4,344.10$4,058.97$5,160.22
Allstate$4,581.16$3,859.66$6,490.65
Liberty Mutual$5,604.24$4,388.18$8,802.22
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If you have poor credit, you could be paying 27 percent more than your counterpart with good credit with Travelers but 128 percent more with State Farm. In this instance, it really pays to shop around and get multiple quotes to see where you can save.

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How does the length of your commute affect your car insurance rates?

Your commute length also affects your rates. If you’re working from home or close by, you’ll see cheaper rates than if you’re driving half an hour or longer every day.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Commute Length
Companies10 Miles Commute
6000 Annual Mileage
25 Miles Commute
12000 Annual Mileage
USAA$2,482.69$2,591.91
Geico$3,162.64$3,267.37
State Farm$3,175.98$3,344.01
American Family$3,401.30$3,484.88
Nationwide$3,437.33$3,462.67
Progressive$4,030.02$4,041.01
Farmers$4,179.32$4,209.22
Travelers$4,399.85$4,469.96
Allstate$4,841.71$4,934.20
Liberty Mutual$5,995.27$6,151.63
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This isn’t nearly as big of a factor as your credit or driving record, but it’s definitely worth noting. Even a five percent increase at State Farm can add up.

Concerns for Safety on the Road with Your Mobility Vehicle

The New York Times reported in 2006 that, due to the increased number of physically challenged drivers, there is a growing concern among all drivers — disabled and otherwise — for their safety on the road.

Physically challenged drivers are inhibited physically in some cases, which may limit their ability to respond quickly or to perform simple driving tasks that non-handicapped people take for granted.

Despite the fact that it would be desirable to think these physically challenged individuals are as safe or capable as their non-handicapped peers, it simply isn’t always true.

There are many resources out there that can help drivers with disabilities get on the road safely, including some from the Illinois Department of Human Services, which are universally relevant to ensure the safety of all occupants of a vehicle for the duration of the trip.

Still, insurance providers try to help handicapped persons compensate for these disabilities when it comes to their insurance.

No matter what situation a person finds themselves in, as long as it is not overtly dangerous for them to drive, they are entitled to mobility vehicle insurance.

How safe are vans and SUVs?

Safety is a big deal for everybody. And most wheelchair accessible vehicles are either vans or SUVs. That’s pretty good news for safety.

he Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) breaks it down to why the size of the vehicle is so important for safety. It’s pretty obvious if you think about it. Larger vehicles have more space between you and the collision. A large van or SUV has a lot of metal between you and the force of the impact, especially in a frontal collision, which accounts for more than half of fatalities from car crashes.

The IIHS compiled the data for fatality rates by vehicle type. Let’s look at that data for very large cars — a category here that includes the sort of large minivan that compiles a large portion of wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Very Large Car Fatality Rate for 1-3 Year-Old Vehicles
MetricVery Large Cars Details
Registered Vehicles1,787,340
Deaths47
Rate (deaths per million registered vehicles)26
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The fatality rate of 26 per million registered vehicles isn’t bad, actually. If you compare it to the rate for all cars — which is 48 per million — you can see that it is far lower. A lot of that comes down to the fact that they’re such large vehicles.

However, that’s not the only thing that goes into how safe a vehicle is. Check out this news report on minivan crash testing for more details.

There’s a lot of variety within a vehicle type, so it’s important to check safety ratings before choosing your vehicle. This will affect your car insurance rates, also. Insurers want to know they’ll have a lower risk by insuring the vehicle.

How Many Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicles People Are Driving

First off, a wheelchair-accessible vehicle is usually just adapted from a popular large vehicle. Many are minivans, but there’s are more and more options out there, like SUVs and pickups.

To buy one of these vehicles brand new with adapted equipment for a disabled driver, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the possible cost is $80,000.

Perhaps that’s partially why the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that people with disabilities are less likely to own a vehicle.

People in Zero-Vehicle Households in the U.S.
Worker StatusWith a disabilityWithout a disability
Workers12.2%3.9%
Non-workers22.5%9.5%
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More than twice as many non-workers with a disability live in a household without a vehicle than those without a disability. The number’s even bigger amongst workers, with those with a disability being over three times more likely to not live in a house with a car.

Not only that, but they’re also less likely to drive the vehicles even if there is one in their household.

  • 60.4 percent of people with disabilities drive vehicles
  • 91.7 percent of people without disabilities drive vehicles

But, there’s no doubt that plenty of disabled people are driving out there, with the help of innovative technology that keeps getting better and better. There’s often help with these modifications, as well.

The video from Business Insider below shows just some of that technology.

The Mobility Resource provides data on which wheelchair van makes were most popular.

Share of Wheelchair Vans Sold in the U.S.
Make of VanPercentage of Total Wheelchair Vans Sold
Dodge35%
Ford23%
Toyota14%
Chrysler13%
Chevrolet2%
Other9%
Honda4%
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Dodges and Fords make up the largest portion, by far.

One out of every three wheelchair or handicapped-accessible vehicles sold in the U.S. was a Dodge vehicle. One out of every four was a Ford, and one out of every seven was a Toyota.

We’ll be looking at some insurance loss statistics for a few of the most popular wheelchair-accessible vehicles up next.

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Car Insurance Claims and Losses for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Every time a car accident happens and the insurance company pays out a claim, and insurers track that information as a loss. We’ll be looking at five of the most popular minivans that get adapted for wheelchair use.

Let’s look at the losses for these extra-large minivans:

  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Kia Sedona
  • Toyota Sienna

Let’s get started and see how these stack up against each other, as they’re all similarly classified by size and weight.

What are the loss statistics for liability car insurance claims for wheelchair accessible vehicles?

Liability auto insurance coverage is there to cover damages that could occur to someone else’s property if you cause an accident. If you rear-end somebody at a red light, you’ll be glad to have it. First up, let’s look at liability losses.

Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Car Insurance Losses
Vehicle Make
and Model
Bodily Injury
Losses
Property Damage
Losses
Chrysler Pacifica-19%-15%
Dodge Grand Caravan28%13%
Honda Odyssey-52%-38%
Kia Sedona-8%-2%
Toyota Sienna-13%-13%
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The Grand Caravan has worse than average bodily liability losses. These numbers include both the number of claims made and how much each claim was for. This could be because the Grand Caravan is so large, with many of them sold as rental vans popular with vacationing families with the seven seats.

Most of these minivans have average losses, though, and the Honda Odyssey has better than average losses for both types of liability insurance.

What are the loss statistics for comprehensive and collision car insurance claims for wheelchair accessible vehicles?

Collision and comprehensive are integral parts of full coverage car insurance. Collision covers your damage in the event of a wreck, and comprehensive is there for those unexpected events, like a tree limb falling on your car that’s sitting in the driveway. Hail damage, hitting an animal, or other weather damage is also covered by comprehensive.

Comprehensive and Collision Car Insurance Losses for Large Minivans
Vehicle Make
and Model
Collision
Losses
Comprehensive
Losses
Chrysler Pacifica-24%-4%
Dodge Grand Caravan-19%-15%
Honda Odyssey-18%-11%
Kia Sedona-13%-15%
Toyota Sienna5%0%
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All of these minivans are average for both collision and comprehensive, meaning they’re smack dab in the middle of all cars for how many claims were made and how much each claim was. The only exception is the Chrysler Pacifica, which had better than average collision losses.

What are the loss statistics for PIP and MedPay for wheelchair accessible vehicles?

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and MedPay are there to help pay for your own medical care if you should need it. This video from Freedom National sums up what you can use them for.

The only real difference between the two is that MedPay doesn’t typically require a deductible. Some states require this additional liability coverage, but they can be added to any policy.

PIP and MedPay Car Insurance Losses for Very Large Minivans
Vehicle Make
and Model
Personal Injury
Losses
Medical Payment
Losses
Chrysler Pacifica-22%-27%
Dodge Grand Caravan16%23%
Honda Odyssey-28%-21%
Kia Sedona18%20%
Toyota Sienna3%2%
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All of these minivans have average or above-average MedPay and PIP losses, with the exception of the Dodge Caravan, which has a worse than average MedPay loss.

PIP and MedPay claim losses are only based on how frequently claims are made, and they do not take into account how much each claim was. Since some medical bills are astronomically high, it’s a better indicator to just track how often the claims are made.

Loopholes in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that Affect Car Insurance Rates

Modified car insurance can cause higher premiums. Some insurance companies charge more for wheelchair accessible vehicles because they are more “highly modified” than the average vehicle.

Does Medicare pay for a handicap van?

While handicap modifications are not generally covered by government programs like Medicare, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) of 1990 prohibits car insurance companies from refusing car insurance to people with disabilities or from raising rates simply because of that disability.

Will Medicaid pay for a wheelchair van?

Unfortunately, Medicaid also doesn’t generally cover wheelchair accessible vans.

Medicare will probably help cover your wheelchair or scooter costs, and you may qualify for a state grant to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle. How can you get help to buy a handicap van? Mobility Works lists ways to find out how to qualify for those grants for wheelchair vans by your state.

The DMV determines whether you can safely drive, NOT the insurance companies.

But, that doesn’t mean they won’t raise your car insurance rates for things you must have, such as vehicle modifications. The more modified a vehicle is, the more the driver risks an accident due to obstructions in their line of sight, interference with normal driving conditions, or other factors.

Opponents of the higher car insurance rates for disabled people argue that this is discrimination. However, this is difficult to prove and is still fully legal.

Insurance companies argue that the extra modifications add to the overall value of the handicapped vehicle and increase the likelihood of theft or vandalism in some cases.

Questions You Should Ask Your Car Insurance Agent

If you’re wondering about car insurance discounts for a handicapped vehicle, ask your agent. When shopping and comparing insurance plans, here are some questions you can ask your online agent. By asking these questions upfront, you will have less trouble finding the right coverage as you shop and compare.

  • What do you consider a modification on a vehicle?
  • What are the rates for a handicapped driver with my specific disability?
  • How can I decrease my insurance rates?
  • Do you offer any disability discounts?
  • Do you offer comprehensive coverage for handicap equipment that rides outside my vehicle?

All of these questions will shed some light on your particular options with different companies. If the quote you receive is too high, you may want to consider another company.

Don’t stop until you have found the policy that you are most comfortable with and one that you feel best protects your interests.

Use our FREE comparison tool below. Just enter your ZIP code to get started.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Car Insurance for a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Just in case you have some more queries, we’ve answered a few below.

Does Medicare pay for wheelchair lifts for vehicles?

It’s very situational, so you’ll need to check with your state’s Medicaid and Medicare programs to see if you qualify. Sometimes, the need for a lift needs to be evaluated by a qualified doctor which might push it through to be covered. Medicaid may provide some coverage with a waiver.
Check with your relevant office to find out if a wheelchair lift will be covered for you.

However, your handicap vehicle insurance should cover these modifications as long as you disclose them to your insurer.

Does insurance cover Handcontrols?

Likewise, handcontrol may be covered but are dependent upon your unique situation. Check with your local office for more details. They are covered by car insurance as long as you disclose it ahead of time.

Is there free car insurance for disabled vehicles?

While it’s not likely you’ll find free disability car insurance, there are numerous programs to help low-income families pay for low-income car insurance. There are also some groups that will donate a wheelchair van for disabled people.

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