How will having dementia or Alzheimer's impact your car insurance?
Dementia is a common age-related illnesses characterised by a variety of symptoms that can affect driving skills. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common types of dementia and may also carry certain risks while driving. However, these illnesses are typically gradual conditions and often develop over many years. Just because someone is showing symptoms doesn’t mean they necessarily have to stop driving. By following the right steps, you can keep driving, even with dementia, Alzheimer’s or a related condition, and also keep insurance in place.
How driving with dementia works
You are required by law to notify your driver’s license authority if you are showing symptoms of dementia as these can affect your ability to drive safely. They will usually ask you to see a doctor who can assess you in further detail. From here, you may need to take a driving test. After this, if you are assessed as being safe to drive, you can get a 12-month conditional license, which needs to be re-assessed after a year. Depending on the severity of the condition, these conditional licenses may have stipulations attached to them, such as additional speed limits or restrictions on when and where you can drive. Going through these procedures and getting a provisional license is the first step to driving despite showing symptoms or having been diagnosed with dementia.
How to get car insurance for driving with dementia
Following the appropriate steps and getting a conditional license is the only way to legally drive with Alzheimer’s or dementia. This is also the only way to keep effective car insurance. You can’t just ignore the symptoms until you’re certain you have the disease. Go for the conditional license as soon as symptoms arise because if you don’t, car insurance providers can refuse to pay your claims.
- Under the terms of your car insurance’s duty of disclosure, you are required to inform the insurance provider of anything that may affect your driving ability.
- If you show symptoms, but don’t carry out the necessary exams, your car insurance provider may refuse to pay a claim.
Signs and symptoms to watch out for
If any of the following symptoms are present, it might be time to go for a conditional driver’s license:
- Not paying attention or not responding appropriately to car horns or sirens
- Not seeing or not paying attention to traffic signs and signals
- Getting the accelerator and brake mixed up
- Getting lost or confused on routes that are familiar to you or having trouble reading a map
- Becoming angry or having other mood changes while driving
- Having new bumps, scratches or other signs of an accident on the car
In addition to this, the ability to effectively manage one’s finances is usually one of the first things to go. Look for this as well as the following signs of dementia:
- Short-term memory loss
- Difficulty finding words
- Cognitive difficulties with things that used to be easy to do
- Personality changes
It’s good to be alert for these symptoms, not only for the purposes of driving and car insurance, but also because it may be possible to take steps to slow the progress of the condition.
How to find the right insurance policy
You must inform your insurer if you are driving with a conditional license or have been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s or a similar condition. However, it can be good to go for the conditional license first, and then notify your insurer afterwards. This is because having a valid driver’s license, and following the conditions on it, means you have been assessed as being able to drive safely. With this, you can typically stick with the same insurer and might not even incur raised premiums or any other changes other than those which may be laid in the conditional license.
- Many insurance companies do not have clear or consistent guidelines for drivers with dementia.
- Many car insurance providers do not preclude drivers with dementia from getting cover.
- With a valid license, a dementia diagnosis has no impact on your ability to access different types of car insurance cover.
Getting a 12-month conditional driver’s license, and keeping it up to date with yearly assessments, is the key to driving safely with dementia and keeping adequate car insurance cover. As a silver lining, you might even be able to use dementia and a conditional license to get lower premiums or cheaper car insurance.
Finding cheaper car insurance
Switching to a conditional license might be the right time to re-evaluate your car insurance cover. If you aren’t driving as far or as frequently as you used to, you might be paying more than you need to. In-car technology can also be particularly useful for aging drivers. For example, you can find cars with lane departure warning systems that automatically alert the driver when they’re drifting outside of their lane, and many other advanced safety features. Some insurers will recognise the safety benefits of these features with lower premiums, but this varies between insurers. There are a lot of different factors that impact the cost of car insurance premiums. If your situation has changed, it might be time to take another look at the policies available. No two providers are alike and in special situations, such as if you’re driving with dementia, you might get substantial price differences between almost-identical policies. Compare a range of quotes when switching car insurance and find the insurer that’s right for you. Even with an early-stage dementia diagnosis, it’s quite possible that you still have years of driving left. It’s worth re-evaluating your car insurance as you move into your conditional license.
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