August 6, 2010

How Poor Mental Health Can Affect Safety And Your Auto Insurance

When consumers think about things that will increase the price of their auto insurance quotes, they generally focus on items related to their car or driving record. An older model car or a vehicle that has had significant changes made to its structure or features added to it can increase the cost of a car insurance quote as the value of the additions may be unknown or the physical makeup of the car itself may be old enough that it represents risk to the insurance provider. As well, the driving record of an insured can also impact the premiums they pay. The more tickets they have received for violations they have committed, the higher a risk they will represent to an insurer. What many drivers do not realize, however, is that mental health affects auto insurance rates. Under certain circumstances, poor mental health can make car insurance significantly more expensive.

This is for two reasons. The first is, not surprisingly, risk. An insured who has a serious mental illness – one that requires constant medication or monitoring will represent a higher level of risk to an insurance company as there is a possibility that the driver will forget to take their medicine or will have an episode or mental break while on the road. If this occurs, the driver will almost inevitably be at fault, and the insurance company will be forced to pay out a significant amount. This leads to a higher insurance premium.

The second reason for higher auto insurance quotes for those with mental illness is safety. Take for example epilepsy. In certain variants of the disease, bright or flashing lights can trigger a seizure, causing a loss of muscle control and potential blackouts. This poses a serious safety risk if the driver is traveling down a highway or other high-speed route, and could be triggered by such things as a railroad crossing light or other blinking road signs. For someone with this type of illness, an insurance company will likely require a medical exam prior to issuing coverage and will base their rates on the severity of the condition and its effect on safety. While some states do have standards which prevent companies from charging exorbitant amounts to those with mental illness, this is not always a guarantee.

For those dealing with deteriorating or damaged mental health, reasonable auto insurance rates can be hard to come by. It is important for these drivers to understand how and why their insurance company will assess them as having higher risk, and how to properly liaise with their company in order to lower their rates. While mental illness can limit the possibility of a reasonable rate, it does not make it impossibility.