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Does an accessibility permit increase insurance costs?

By SmartCoverage Team on April 10th, 2018

Reasons for accessibility permit

People with certain health conditions may require closer parking spaces to buildings, or wider parking spaces for the loading and unloading of mobility devices or ramps.

This is why parking lots have parking spaces reserved for people that possess the permit.

Permits are tied to the person, not the car

Accessible parking permits are issued to the person or business that needs them, and not to the vehicle. Permit holders have to be in the vehicle in order to park in an accessible space, and the permit must be displayed on the dashboard.

Anyone using the permit without the named in the vehicle is liable to a fine of up to $5,000 and the seizure of the permit.

Eligibility

In Ontario and other provinces in Canada, there are certain eligibility criteria that allow you to have the accessibility permit.

  • People who have trouble with walking, mobility, or those who require assistive devices
  • People who suffer from lung diseases and have trouble breathing or require portable oxygen
  • Those who suffer from cardiovascular disease to the extent of it diminishing specific functional capacities
  • People who have poor vision

Anti-discrimination law

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that people with disabilities have a right to the “equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on…mental or physical disability,” while the Canadian Human Rights Act also protects the rights of marginalized peoples.

Further, in Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was passed in 2005 and legislated improvements to accessibility standards in the province within all public establishments.

So, it should be understood that those who do have disabilities, mobility issues or accessibility needs, would not be made to pay more for insurance.

Evidence of increased costs

A study in the US used the American version of this anti-discrimination law, the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990, as a basis to test out if the disabled actually paid more for car insurance.

The Act, in practice, prohibits “auto insurance companies from raising insurance rates of the disabled, denying them coverage, or giving them higher insurance quotes."

A study found that random non-disabled New Yorkers paid around $700 less for their auto insurance premium. That’s a pretty large difference. One of the highest rates belonged to someone who was diagnosed with epilepsy and needed a wheelchair.

Why would someone with a disability pay more?

Despite these laws, do the disabled really get fair auto insurance rates? There are opinions that people with disabilities require certain coverage add-ons, which contribute to higher insurance rates because the vehicle is essentially modified.

These are extra insurance terms that cover modifications to the vehicle, required by certain individuals with accessibility needs.

Adaptions – say for example you have installed an access ramp onto a van. There is an extra insurance charge to cover that piece of ramp machinery in the event of a loss. The insurance company treats it as a modification.

Mobility coverage – if your modified vehicle gets damaged and requires some time to repair, there is nary a chance that you will be able to be accommodated in a standard rental vehicle. This coverage provides you mobility options should your vehicle need repair, or if it’s out of commission for any length of time. It would cover taxi costs or other forms of transportation during the interim.

Equipment Insurance – the equipment that is carried within the vehicle also requires some sort of coverage in the event of a loss. Therefore items such as wheelchairs, crutches, walking canes, oxygen machines, and whatever else required during a trip also require in-car coverage. This coverage is something that the driver can decide to include at their own discretion, almost like contents insurance.

Insurance increase for the permit? No.

Increase for vehicular modification? Yes.

The accessibility permit itself does not increase auto insurance premiums, because it is bound to the person that needs it and not to the vehicle. It is transferable from vehicle to vehicle in that way.

Though there are no increases based on your person, if you do in fact have a disability and require changes to your car, there are certain add-ons to the vehicle that make the insurance policy costlier for people with accessibility needs. The insurer sees modification as an added risk or expense to repair or replace.

The companies do not use disability as a factor in calculating your premium, but if your vehicle is in effect modified to make it more accessible, the premium will go up. They do this for other modified vehicles as well. It’s sort of a statistical catch-22 in that way.

Always shop around

The best way to get the cheapest insurance rate is still by comparing prices online or by talking to a broker. Make sure to ask about bundling options and other discounts when finalizing your policy.

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