Just because you’re suffering from a disability doesn’t mean that you should be confined to your home. Getting your own automobile is a very real prospect even for those in a wheelchair by following these simple tips. If you are in the UK, you can even get assistance from the government when it comes to leasing your own car. For local readers, this is the avenue we recommend.
The Motability Scheme
The receiving a government funded mobility allowance may exchange part of it to lease their own private vehicle under the UK’s Motability Scheme. Those receiving the following allowances may be eligible for this benefit:
- Disability Living Allowance (Higher rate)
- Personal Independence Payment (Enhanced rate)
- War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
Of course, there are certain conditions to those who are eligible as well. For example, the Motability Scheme has restrictions on who can drive the leased car, how far you can drive it during the contract, and how much damage from wear and tear is acceptable. We recommend reading carefully over these to decide whether this is the best decision.
Adapting Your Vehicle
You’ll then need to modify your new leased car so you can safely and comfortably drive it around despite your disability. The auto industry has advanced enough so that there are a number of different options here:
- Hand-operated brake & accelerator
- Steering wheel spinner knobs
- Wheelchair lifting platforms
- Electronic swivel seats
Which adaptive driving products you install will depend on your disability. When shopping for a leased vehicle, inquire about which models can be modified to suit your particular disability and how much these extra features will cost.
Choosing the Auto Type
The physical specs of a vehicle will also play a big role in whether it’s suitable for your needs. Some models aren’t made to take someone with a disability. This can be for a number of reasons including:
- Small doorframes
- High ground clearance
- Difficult-to-see controls
- Hard-to-reach ignition
- Manual locks & windows
All of these can make life difficult for the average disabled person trying to get into their vehicle. Now that you know what to look out for though, it should be easy to compare automobiles and take out a personal car lease with confidence that what you got will actually take care of you while behind the wheel. Your safety is paramount when on the road so having the proper type of vehicle should be your top priority. Only then will you be able to modify it and obtain private transportation that is comfortable, stable and manageable regardless of your disability.
The final matter to take care of will be the vehicle insurance that you take out. While most providers will be happy to cover you (although you may have to pay an extra fee), there are some important considerations to take into account. First, make sure that your leased car is actually covered by the plan you’ve taken out. In 2009 in the UK, some insurers refused to cover the disabled because of their modified cars. In fact, this condition originally applied to street racers who souped up their vehicles for competitions. As a disabled person, you should be aware that your insurer may refuse to cover you for this reason. Thus, always make an enquiry prior to choosing one insurance company over another.
An addendum when it comes to disabled people and auto insurance is that some regions may even require you to insure your motorised wheelchair. For instance, State Farm in Michigan is saying their coverage doesn’t include wheelchair users in accidents. If you are out and about and get hit by another vehicle, there is a chance the driver can turn around and sue you too! To be doubly safe, make sure your insurance coverage includes your modified car as well as your motorised wheelchair. While the premiums may be higher, the added safety net will be well worth it.
While leasing your very own automobile includes numerous steps not required by physically abled people, this hard work and effort will provide its own rewards. For those with disabilities, having their own set of wheels can drastically improve their overall quality of life through greater freedom and increased independence.