June 22, 2010

How Handicapped Drivers Can Still Qualify For Auto Insurance

Insurance companies are required by law to follow rules and regulations set up by state and local governments, and many laws regulate how (and whether) insurance companies can decide to deny coverage to individuals. One of the most popular misconceptions about insurance companies is that they’re unfair or biased against handicapped individuals. However, federal law prevents insurance companies from denying coverage (or changing premiums) on the basis of a handicap. In fact, auto insurance companies cannot even ask about the handicapped status of a driver. The law surrounding handicapped drivers may vary from one state to the next, but federal anti-discrimination guidelines prevent insurance companies from making a discriminatory decision.

This does not mean that handicapped drivers cannot be denied coverage, however. If an auto insurance company can show that it would be unreasonably risky to insure a certain driver independent of that driver’s handicap, it could be legally acceptable to deny coverage to that individual. The handicap, however, cannot have anything to do with this decision. Car insurance companies must treat handicapped drivers and non-handicapped drivers exactly the same. Any form of discrimination, one way or the other, could be a violation of the law. Insurance companies cannot even offer lower premiums to handicapped drivers due to their handicaps–and, as handicapped drivers are statistically less likely to be involved in an accident compared to non-handicapped drivers; this is a significant limitation for insurers’ actuarial tables. Auto insurance premiums can still be based on a driver’s gender, age, and driving record, as well as the vehicle that the driver owns and any other typical factors (whether or not an alarm is installed, where the driver lives and parks, etc.).

Therefore, handicapped drivers do not need to look for special types of auto insurance and can use the same cost comparison websites and online quotes as any other driver. If you are able to drive legally, and you’ve got a driver’s license in your state of residence, you cannot be denied coverage due to a physical handicap. Reputable insurance companies will not even ask whether you have a handicap, as asking this question can be a violation.

If you feel that your auto insurance company is unfairly denying coverage or changing your premiums due to your handicap, make a complaint to your state’s insurance commission. They’ll look into the company’s practices, and if necessary, they can launch an investigation, assess fines, and take other steps to prevent discriminatory practices. No handicap should prevent you from following the law and driving with a proper amount of car insurance coverage, regardless of an insurance company’s intentions.