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How To Properly Insure Your Accessible Wheelchair Van

Everyone understands that it’s a legal requirement to have their vehicles insured and recognizes the value of being properly insured in case of an accident. But, most people are not insurance experts. In fact, some aspects of vehicle insurance confuse many people.

In order to keep your accessible van as safe as you can make sure you’re protecting it with the right types of commercial auto insurance. Here are the primary types of insurance you’ll need:

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is normally required by law in all parts of the United States. This coverage is designed to protect other people from suffering losses that are caused when your wheelchair van causes an auto accident. Liability insurance primarily focuses on two coverage areas: Bodily injuries and Property Damages.

  • Bodily Injury – This section of your liability insurance policy helps pay for any injuries inflicted on other people from an auto accident. If your mobility van causes, or is found to be at fault for, an auto accident that causes people to get physically hurt, the bodily injury portion of your coverage pays for their medical expenses. When an injured person must be transported to the hospital for example, your bodily injury coverage can pay for the ambulatory bills and expenses. It also pays for the emergency room care, doctor’s visits, prescription medications, physical therapy, rehabilitation and other medical bills that are caused due to the auto accident. Bodily injury also pays for a person’s lost wages when they must miss work due to recovery times, and it pays for pain and suffering of the victims. When a person is killed in an auto accident, your bodily injury insurance can pay their funeral expenses as well.
  • Property Damage – When a vehicle or other property sustains damages from an auto accident that was caused by your handicap van, the property damages portion of your liability insurance will pay for the cost of repairs.

Liability insurance can provide your wheelchair van with protection at varying levels, based on the amount of coverage you select. You can choose a standard split level policy or a combined single limit policy as well.

A split limit policy sets maximum benefit limits on two separate portions of an auto accident claim. Split limit policies will pay no more than the set limit per person for bodily injuries but no more than the total combined limit for all bodily injuries in an accident. It will also pay a separate maximum for property damages. Example: A liability split limit policy of $15,000/$50,000/$35,000 explains a specific payment maximum per accident. No more than $15,000 will be paid for any individual person’s bodily injuries in one accident; no more than $50,000 will be paid for the combined total of bodily injuries; and $35,000 is the maximum amount the policy will pay for property damages.

If you elect a single combined limit liability policy instead, there is no separate maximum limit defined for bodily injuries or property damages. There is just one maximum overall payout for the policy for each accident. A $50,000 combined single limit liability policy for example, would pay a maximum of $50,000 in damages per accident regardless of whether the damages were to people or property.

Medical Payments

Medical payments insurance is important coverage for a wheelchair van, because it pays medical related expenses that arise for your van driver and any passengers who were riding in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Coverage is for paying medical and related bills, such as ambulance transport, hospital care and follow up treatments. This insurance protects your driver and passengers without regard to who causes an auto accident. It is not available in all areas however, so be sure to contact one of your licensed representatives to determine if it’s an option for your policy.

Physical Damage Insurance

Physical damages insurance protects your wheelchair accessible vehicle itself. And it protects your you from having to pay the bills when the van is damaged or destroyed. This insurance is extremely important for you  if you still have an outstanding unpaid finance loan because it provides you with the most protection possible. There are three types of physical damages insurance protection:

  • Comprehensive Physical Damage Protection – Comprehensive damages protects you from a number of potential risks, perils and hazards. It does not protect against damages and losses caused by a collision or caused when your van overturns. It does however, protect against losses and damages caused by theft, break ins, vandalism and natural events. If your van is damaged due to a tree falling on it in a storm for example, your comprehensive damage protection coverage will pay for the repairs.
  • Collision Protection – Collision protection is specifically designed to pay for damages and destruction that are caused by a collision or by a roll over event. If your van has a blowout and overturns for example, your collision damage protection will pay for the repairs. If the van backs into a building while trying to access a wheelchair ramp, the collision damage protection pays for those repairs as well.
  • Specified Peril (CAC) – Pecified Peril coverage is also known as Fire and Theft with Combined Additional Coverage. This does not protect you against collision or roll over events. Instead, it protects you from just those perils that are specified on your insurance policy.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist

If your van is involved in an auto accident with another vehicle and that other vehicle was the cause for the accident, their liability insurance is supposed to pay for your bodily injuries and property damages. If the other driver does not carry insurance however, or if they do not carry enough coverage to pay all of the resulting bills, they are considered uninsured or underinsured. You can purchase protection against these risks with an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy. When the other driver is at fault but unable to pay for all of your damages, your policy will pick up the difference. This policy works much like your Liability policy.

  • Bodily Injury – As covered with Liability Insurance.
  • Property Damage – As covered with Liability Insurance.
  • Collision Deductible Waiver (CDW) – When you carry an uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury policy on your wheelchair van, you can qualify for a collision deductible waiver (CDW). The CDW makes it so that you do not have to pay your standard insurance deductible when you make an uninsured or underinsured motorist accident claim.

Other Important Commercial Auto Insurance for Wheelchair Vans

  • Special Equipment Coverage – This type of coverage covers every aspect of vehicle adaptation including mobility equipment such as a lift, ramp, lowered floor, kneeling systems, a lock-down system, or any other added adaptive driving equipment (hand controls and left foot accelerators).
  • Rental – If your van is unusable due to an auto accident, rental insurance can pay for the cost of a temporary replacement.
  • Towing – Towing insurance pays for the cost of towing your accessible vehicle from the scene of an accident when it is badly damaged.
  • Accessories – Accessories insurance protects you from losses associated with extra devices you may have installed on your van. A wheelchair van taxi may have a mileage meter installed for example, and a communications radio to keep them in contact with their dispatcher.

** The limits of your coverage and your deductibles for each element of your policy will vary based upon what you’ve purchased from your insurance company.

Driving with Paralysis

The first step in the process of learning to drive with paralysis is to get a thorough evaluation from a qualified driver trainer to determine your basic driving set-up, specific modifications, and driving equipment. An evaluation includes vision screening and assesses muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion; coordination and reaction time; judgment and decision making; and ability to drive with adaptive equipment.

To find a qualified evaluator, contact us today (508-697-6006) we maintain a list of certified specialists throughout the New England area.

As for getting a drivers license, states require a valid learner’s permit or driver’s license to receive an on-the-road evaluation. You cannot be denied the opportunity to apply for a permit or license because you have a disability, but you may receive a restricted license, based on the use of adaptive devices.

Once you get the go-ahead from the evaluation, it’s time to think about the kinds of vehicles that suit your abilities and needs. Selecting a vehicle for modification requires collaboration with the evaluator and a qualified vehicle modification dealer. The following questions can help with vehicle selection and whether you can adapt a car you already own.

  • Does the necessary adaptive equipment require a van, or will a passenger car suffice (will you be driving from a wheelchair or can you transfer to the car seat? If you can transfer in and drive a car your choices are much wider.
  • Can the vehicle accommodate the equipment that needs to be installed?
  • Will there be enough space to accommodate other passengers once the vehicle is modified?
  • Is there adequate parking space at home and at work for the vehicle and for loading/unloading a wheelchair or walker?

If a third party is paying for the vehicle, adaptive devices, or modification costs, find out if there are any limitations or restrictions on what is covered. Always get a written statement on what a funding agency will pay before making your purchase.

The cost of modifying a vehicle varies greatly. A new vehicle modified with adaptive equipment can cost from $20,000 to $80,000. Therefore, it pays to investigate public and private opportunities for financial assistance.

There are programs that help pay part or all of the cost of vehicle modification, depending on the cause and nature of the disability. Contact your state’s department of Vocational Rehabilitation or another agency that provides vocational services, and, if appropriate, the Department of Veterans Affairs. Also, consider the following:

  • Many nonprofit associations that advocate for individuals with disabilities have grant programs that help pay for adaptive devices.
  • If you have private health insurance or workers’ compensation, you may be covered for adaptive devices and vehicle modification. Check with your insurance carrier.
  • Many manufacturers have rebate or reimbursement plans for modified vehicles.
  • Some states waive the sales tax for adaptive devices if you have a doctor’s prescription for their use.

You may be eligible for savings when submitting your federal income tax return. Check with a qualified tax consultant to find out if the cost of your adaptive devices will help you qualify for a medical deduction.

Find a qualified dealer to modify your vehicle. Ask questions, check credentials and references. Do they work with evaluators? Will they look at your vehicle before you purchase it? Do they require a prescription from a physician or other driver evaluation specialist? Do they provide training on how to use the equipment? Do they provide service? What is the cost? How long will it take to do the work? What is the warranty?

How Ford Wheelchair Van Insurance Really Works

If you’re ever in a accident in your wheelchair van and have insurance questions or need your to have repairs made contact the experts at the Mobility Center in Bridgewater, MA with your questions 508-697-6006

2013 Ford Tuscany Wheelchair Van

Buying insurance can be a complicated process. For those of us who haven’t spent a great deal of time thinking about insurance and how it works, purchasing insurance for a wheelchair van can be rather intimidating. So here is a little information about the way Ford wheelchair van insurance really works.

Information about Coverage
Your Ford wheelchair van insurance is made up of individual elements. When one talks about vehicle insurance, they’re actually referring to a combination of different forms of insurance with different purposes.

For example, you can buy liability insurance. That will pay for any damage you might cause if you have an accident. Liability insurance is a legal requirement. Bodily injury liability coverage will defray the medical expenses of anyone who may be injured by your vehicle in an accident.

Due to the high number of people who fail to meet their state-mandated legal obligations, many Ford wheelchair van drivers purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance. This feature of a policy will protect you in the event that another driver collides with you and doesn’t have adequate coverage.

There is insurance designed to cover all of our own medical expenses if you’re in an accident and most new vehicle buyers purchase comprehensive policies that cover damage caused by vandalism, weather, and virtually any other mishap. If you are still making payments on a financed vehicle, the lender will generally require proof of comprehensive coverage as a term of the loan.

Those are only a few of the different forms of coverage that may be involved in covering your Ford. Different policies have different benefits and various insurance companies offer variations on the same theme. You may be interested in hearing about some of the other forms of protection they offer when insuring your wheelchair van.

Information of Rate Determinations
Now that we’ve discussed what you’re buying, we can explore why it costs so much! Most of us find insurance rather expensive and many wonder why different people may be subject to wildly different rates. There are a number of factors at play.

The most significant factor in setting insurance rates is the driver. Insurance companies evaluate data and look at multiple variables to determine how likely you are to be in an accident or to file a claim.

That’s why a 45-year old with a perfect driving record pays less for the same coverage than an 18-year old who’s already collected numerous. Your age is just one example of the many demographic variables influencing your rates. Your driving history is another.

Unfortunately, that means you’ll pay more than most people when you insure your Ford wheelchair van. Even if you are a fantastic driver, the overall statistics do indicate that drivers with disabilities are more likely to be involved in claims and accidents. US federal law prohibits insurance companies from discrimination based on disability, but they can consider those statistics when determining rates.

Your Ford wheelchair van will also influence how much you pay for your insurance. Again, the insurance companies base their rates on all available data and they have a very good idea of how much different vehicle types cost to repair and how likely they are to be involved in a claim. That’s why a sports car will cost more to insure than a dull four-door sedan.

It’s also another reason while you will be paying more than the average for your wheelchair van insurance. Wheelchair vans tend to cost a great deal to repair and data does indicate that they are more likely than many vehicle types to be involved in insurance claims. Additionally, wheelchair van owners need to be certain that their special equipment and modifications are insured. That drives up the price of their policies even more.

Insurance can be complicated and you need to be considerate when making decisions. Having at least a basic understanding of coverage types and the factors influencing the price of insurance should help.

Dodge Grand Caravan Wheelchair Van Conversion

Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Northstar Conversion

VMI first developed the Northstar handicap van conversion in the early 1990’s to meet customer preferences for increased interior space. To this day, the VMI Northstar on the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan remains one of the best mobility ramp vans in America.

By sliding out of a space below the floor, the Northstar mobility ramp maximizes space inside the accessible vehicle. There are so many benefits of an in-floor wheelchair ramp, it is easily understood why its so popular.

Dodge VMI Northstar at Automotive Innovations www.bridgewatermobility.com

VMI New England Dodge Northstar Wheelchair Van VMiNewEngland.com

Interior handles, and switches, buttons are easily accessed
Front passenger seat retains regular functions
No additional noise from handicap ramp
In the event of an accident, the accessible ramp is under the floor-not inside the mobility van
Works on curbs up to 10 inches tall
Increased maneuverability due to greater space inside the accessible van
Ramp-free doorway allows easy entry/exit for ambulatory passengers
Minimized conversion wear and tear (fewer ramp cycles to load/unload additional passengers)
Uncluttered and clean wheelchair vehicle interior
Mobility vehicle interior gets less dirt inside
Increased handicapped ramp width

Maximum Floor Drop – 11″
Handicap Vehicle Ground Clearance – 5.5″
Door Opening Width – 30.75″
Door Opening Height – 55.125″
Usable Mobility Ramp Width – 29.25″
Wheelchair Ramp Length – 45.75″
Length from Back Seats to Kickplate – 58.25″
Overall Floor Length – 86″
Floor Width at Front Doors – 61″
Interior Height at Driver & Passenger Positions (Without Sunroof) – 58″
Interior Height at Center Position – 57.63″
Steering Wheel Bottom to Floor – 29.5″
Measured Down from Front Edge of Steering Wheel to Front Kick-Up – 16.25″

Standard Features
Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Northstar only
Extremely-low 8.0° handicapped ramp angle
Sure Deploy backup system leaves accessible van conversion usable even with power failure
Manual secondary backup system for additional peace of mind
800lb. handicap ramp weight capacity

Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Northstar AND Summit
Fully-powered accessible van ramp
11” drop FLEX Floor maximizes interior space and headroom for better maneuverability
Complete undercoating and rust proofing
PowerKneel system lowers the minivan to reduce ramp angle
Seamless integration with Dodge Grand Caravan vehicle electronics
Complete control through Dodge keyfob and interior switches
Removable front passenger and driver seat bases
No-skid wheelchair ramp surfacing
Complete crash testing and compliance with all government safety standards
3-year/36,000-mile warranty

Optional Features
Durafloor (rubberized flooring) to match Dodge Grand Caravan interiors


Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Summit Conversion

The Summit folding wheelchair ramp van conversion on a Dodge Grand Caravan is an economical choice compared to the popular Northstar in-floor handicapped ramp conversion from VMI. Summit mobility ramps utilize siderails that are 2 inches tall. This is especially important for those with a hard time navigating an incline. VMI Summit handicapped accessible van on the Dodge Grand Caravan also includes an industry best access ramp length of only 50.25”.

The short handicap ramp provides two key advantages to VMI customers. First, passengers can easily use the Dodge handle for the sliding door and switches because the handicapped ramp is not covering them. Second, users in wheelchairs have more room to move on and off the ramp when other vehicles park too close.

Dodge VMI Summit at Automotive Innovations www.bridgewatermobility.com

VMI New England Dodge Summit Wheelchair Van VMiNewEngland.com

Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Summit Only
2” siderails help people with a disabilities stay on the ramp when coming in and out
When other vehicles park too close, 50.25” ramp leaves users more room to maneuver
By simply pushing outward on the ramp, it can be deployed incase of a mechanical/power failure
Handicap ramp surface allows debris to fall through so it doesn’t end up inside the vehicle
Mobility ramp has a quiet cabin dut to an anti-rattle device
600lb. handicapped ramp rating

Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Northstar AND Summit
Fully-powered accessible ramp
11” drop FLEX Floor maximizes head clearance and interior space for maneuvering a wheelchair
Complete undercoating and rust proofing
PowerKneel system lowers the minivan to reduce wheelchair ramp angle
Total integration with Dodge systems prevents damage to vehicle/ conversion
Accessible van conversion is controlled through interior sliding-door switches and Dodge keychain
Easy-out passenger and front driver seat stands
No-slip handicapped ramp
Total crash-testing and compliance with all government standards for safety
3-year/36,000-mile warranty

Maximum Floor Drop – 11″
Mobility Vehicle Ground Clearance – 5.5″
Door Opening Height – 54.25″
Usable Wheelchair Ramp Width – 28.88″
Handicap Ramp Length – 50.25″
Length from Back of Seats to Kickplate – 58.25″
Overall Floor Length – 86″
Floor Width at Doors – 61″
Interior Height at Center Position – 58″
Interior Height at Drivers & Passengers Position (Without Sunroof) – 58″
Steering Wheel Bottom to Floor – 29.5″
Measured Down from Front Edge of Steering Wheel to Front Kick-Up – 16.25

Standard Features
Power Folding Wheelchair Ramp with Non-Skid Surface
Power Sliding Door with Easy Manual Operation
Maximum Interior Headroom
Undercoating and Complete Rust Proofing
Manual Backup Ramp Operation
Warranty – Mobiltiy Conversion Van
Fully Crash Tested
Remote Control Activation
600 Pound Load Rating for Handicap Ramp
9.7 Degree Handicap Ramp Angle

Optional Features
Rubberized Flooring