What Is Specialized Equipment Coverage?

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Disabled man at steering wheel (Photo: @9_fingers_ via Twenty20)
While purchasing car insurance as a person with a disability is in many ways the same as for anyone else, it does change if specialized equipment is requires to operate the vehicle. Such specialized adaptive equipment could range from unique car hand controls to lowered floors.
Because these adaptations are not standard with vehicles, they are often not insured as part of the vehicle. In that case, it may be necessary to purchase coverage for specialized equipment within a policy for disability car insurance.
Here’s what you need to know about specialized equipment coverage.

What is specialized equipment coverage?

Specialized equipment coverage is an added protection to disability car insurance. It covers adaptations to a vehicle to accommodate special needs, such as:
  • Amputee rings
  • Automatic doors
  • Hand controls
  • Keyless entry and ignition
  • Kneeling systems
  • Lockdown systems
  • Lowered floors
  • Pedal extensions
  • Seat belt extensions
  • Siren detectors
  • Wheelchair lifts and ramps
Such adaptations are part of the vehicle and cannot be detached. This specialized equipment makes driving easier for a wide range of conditions, including:
  • Amputee
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Hearing loss
  • Mental health illness
  • Neurological conditions
  • Paraplegic
  • Stroke
  • Vision loss
  • Wheelchair use
Essentially, what qualifies as a disability is a condition that is expected to last more than 12 months that hinders the performance of substantial gainful activities, according to the Social Security Administration.
Tip: If you only require additional insurance coverage for a wheelchair lift, look into handicapped equipment coverage. This type of coverage is not as comprehensive and does not cover more specialized vehicle adaptations, but it also has cheaper premiums.

What about unattached specialized equipment?

There may be other equipment that a disabled driver needs to bring when driving, perhaps to assist with getting around once out of the car. Common examples include walkers or wheelchairs. These items are not covered by specialized equipment insurance. They may, however, be covered under your homeowner’s insurance.
Be sure to check with your insurance provider about what items are covered and which are not because there may be an add-on to your policy to create full protection.

Concerns about specialized equipment and disability car insurance

Your specialized equipment under disability car insurance may not be covered if the installation was not performed by a properly credentialed individual or company. That’s because an accident is more likely to occur if the adaptive equipment is improperly installed. When shopping for an installer for your adaptive equipment, be sure to ask the following questions:
  • Are you registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)?
  • Are you a member of the National Mobility Equipment Dealer’s (NMED) Quality Assurance Program?
  • What kind of training have staff received in adaptive equipment installation?
  • What kind of warranty on installations is provided, and is ongoing service and maintenance included?
Registration with NHTSA and membership with NMED are often required by insurance companies. The answers to the other questions will help you make an informed choice in installer.
Also, be aware that insurance companies may not charge you higher premiums based on being disabled alone. They can, however, increase a premium based on the replacement or repair value and cost of a highly adapted vehicle. Insurance companies may also deny or raise premiums based on conditions that make it riskier to drive, such as epilepsy. Be sure to shop around to compare your options, and don’t hesitate to seek legal advice if you suspect discrimination.