With constant advances in technology, there are a range of disability converted vehicles available in today’s market. From cars with ramps, hoists and lifters to facilitate getting in and out of the vehicle, right through to sophisticated hand and foot controls to assist drivers with limited mobility. There are seemingly endless options available to cater to a wide range of needs and the solutions only seem to be getting better with time.
The great news is that these breakthroughs mean that more and more people are regaining their freedom through the ability to travel easily and, in many cases, independently. Like most technological breakthroughs however, disability vehicle conversions come at a price. In many cases the cost of the conversions are higher than the value of the vehicle itself. This can create issues when it comes to insuring your car.
It comes as no surprise that people with disabilities often face discrimination when purchasing everyday goods and services, and the insurance industry is no different. In fact, it has been notorious in failing to cater to the needs of people with disabilities by neglecting to create tailored products for this group of customers.
Most insurers have not taken the time to understand the needs of people with disabilities. When it comes to cars, they are not familiar with disability conversions or how such vehicles are used. The result is that they struggle to provide comprehensive cover at a fair price.
Unfortunately this means most drivers with disabilities have been paying higher insurance premiums than they should. In many cases, they may also be underinsured. Underinsurance occurs when you have inadequate insurance cover which can lead to financial loss – and that can be devastating.
The main reason this happens is because most insurers depreciate the value of conversions in the same way they depreciate the value of a car. The problem here is that most disability conversions don’t depreciate over time. If anything, materials and labour get more expensive with each passing year and that creates a risk of underinsurance because if your car were to be written-off, you could face a big gap between your insurance payout and the cost of getting your car back on the road.
For example, if you spend $30, 000 to customise your $20, 000 car to suit your needs only to find out the total value has depreciated to $15, 000 when you have an accident several years’ down the track, how will you make up the difference? While you may be able to find a second-hand car to help manage the cost, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to find second-hand conversions to suit your needs. The most likely scenario is that you will need to re-customise your car with new conversions, at the latest market price.
Thankfully things are changing with the launch of Blue Badge Insurance, Australia’s first independence and mobility insurance specialist. The company has been insuring wheelchairs and mobility scooters for almost two years and has recently developed a Comprehensive Car Insurance policy that discriminates positively for the hundreds of thousands of Australian’s who use a disability parking permit.
Lachlan Foote, an 18 year old from the ACT, was among the first people to benefit from Blue Badge Insurance’s policy. Born with Arthrogryposis, Lachlan has short arms and limited strength and mobility in his upper limbs which means that his hands and arms have limited use for driving. Not one to let his disability get in the way of life, Lachlan gave his Toyota Camry a major makeover to allow him to drive using foot controls.
Unsurprisingly, Lachlan struggled to find an insurer that could adapt their policy to cater to his situation. This was heightened by the fact that the modifications are more than double the cost of the base vehicle, and also because Lachlan was an inexperienced driver.
“Getting someone to insure Lachlan’s car was yet another problem we needed to solve. No-one wanted to cover the car modifications. It was a square peg that didn’t fit into a round hole” says Lachlan’s mother, Jenny.
After some research, Jenny found Blue Badge Insurance; “They weren’t at all phased by the type or value of the modifications, or by Lachlan’s age and gave me a very reasonable quote right away”, she says. “Without the team at Blue Badge Insurance and their adapted vehicle insurance policy, Lachlan wouldn’t be on the road. They were so helpful at every stage and Lachlan, his dad and I could not be happier”, Jenny continues.
Blue Badge’s refreshing approach is based around the knowledge that people who value their mobility are safer drivers who deserve lower prices. That’s why their policy actually provides discounts for vehicles using a disability parking permit, including those that have been converted for drivers or passengers with a disability. The policy covers standard cars as well as a wide range of disability conversions – from hand and foot controls, to wheelchair hoists, ramp, docking stations and drive from wheelchair modifications.
Thankfully the discounts offered doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality – in fact the opposite is true. Blue Badge’s policy offers all the features you would expect of a comprehensive motor policy, as well a range of innovative benefits designed for people with disabilities, including: