Car insurance for disabled drivers - Motability, Blue Badges and road tax benefits explained

Driving is one of the most popular forms of transport for people with disabilities, but how does having a disability impact what you pay for insurance and are there any financial benefits or services available to help? We explain all
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Disabled driver, woman, wheelchair

Having a disability is no bar to driving a car in most cases, although you need to tell the DVLA about certain conditions, but to drive legally in the UK you also need to have insurance.

So what does having a disability mean for the availability and pricing of your car insurance and are there any discounts available?

Is car insurance cheaper if you are disabled?

Given many disabilities can result in non-standard requirements for your car, that can mean a standard insurance policy is harder to track down - although the good news is the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 means it’s illegal to charge disabled people more for the same cover.

The problem arrives when that cover is different - and sometimes modifying your cover is unavoidable. 

Areas you need to look out for are extra charges for modifications, making sure any courtesy car that’s included meets your needs, and that accessories such as wheelchair ramps are included too.

All that means it’s sometimes harder to get car insurance quotes online, but the charity Disabled Motoring UK said it’s rare people are outright refused, it just means the insurer will want to speak to you over the phone first.

And if all else fails, there’s a way to get good value with fully comprehensive cover included in the Motability scheme, provided you qualify for a disability benefit.

What is Motability?

Motability is a charity that aims to help people with disabilities get around more easily.

Cars are leased to you, with insurance and more included, from as little as £55.45 a week.

The cost of the lease comes from your benefit payment, and you can search for an appropriate car to meet your needs.

Car tax, breakdown cover, servicing, maintenance and the cost of adapting the car to meet your needs are included too.

You can even add named drivers, allowing carers or family members to use the car as well as you or even instead of you to help you get around.

Who qualifies for Motability?

Motability is available to anyone claiming one of the following benefits:

  • The higher rate mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

  • The enhanced rate mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) or War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement

It’s important to add that the cars are just leased to you, that means if you stop receiving the benefit, it will have to be returned.

Do insurance companies accept Motability no-claims?

Sadly, even years of driving without making a claim using the Motability scheme might not help you when it comes to taking out a standard car insurance policy.

That’s because Motability owns the lease on the car and provides the insurance, meaning other providers can struggle to see evidence of your good behaviour.

How to get a Blue Badge for your car

Parking reserved for disabled drivers blue badge carpark

Disabled drivers with a Blue Badge are allowed to park in disabled bays - close to the entrances of shops and other buildings - as well as given exemptions from charges in places like council car parks and allowed to stay on single yellow lines for up to 3 hours.

You might also able to claim extra concessions, including an exemption from road tax, tolls and access to town centres where other cars are restricted.

You can send off for a badge for yourself, or do it on behalf of somebody else or for an organisation that transports people who qualify for a Blue Badge.

You can apply for a Blue Badge online through your council if you live in England or Wales.

The Blue Badge scheme works slightly differently in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where you apply online through mygov.scot and nidirect.gov.uk respectively.

If you have trouble applying online, contact your council - some have paper application forms or can help you, for example.

The charge for a Blue Badge can be up to £20 a year, but it is determined by the local authority issuing it.

When applying you will need to provide:

  • Proof of identity

  • Proof of address

  • A recent head and shoulders digital photo

  • Your national insurance number (if you have one)

  • Contact details 

Who qualifies for a Blue Badge?

You qualify for a Blue Badge automatically if you are over 2 years old and at least one of the following applies:

  • You receive the higher rate of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

  • You receive a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) because you can’t walk more than 50 metres

  • You are registered blind (severely sight impaired)

  • You receive a War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement

  • You have received a lump sum benefit within tariff levels 1-8 of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation) Scheme and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability that causes inability or very considerable difficulty in walking

  • You receive the mobility component of PIP and have obtained 10 points for descriptor E under the “planning and following journeys” activity, because you are unable to undertake any journey as it would cause you overwhelming psychological distress. You might still qualify for a Blue Badge with other scores, but you’ll have to provide evidence to demonstrate your eligibility as part of your application

In Scotland you are also automatically eligible if at least one of the following applies:

  • You scored 12 points in the “planning and following journeys” part of your mobility assessment for PIP

  • You previously received the higher rate of the mobility component for DLA indefinitely

  • You have had a mandatory reconsideration for PIP accepted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

In Wales you are also automatically eligible if at least one of the following applies:

  • You scored 12 points in the ‘planning and following journeys’ part of your mobility assessment for PIP

  • You receive tariff level 6 of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme for a permanent mental disorder

There are other ways to qualify - for example if you have a young child with a medical condition that means covering longer distances is difficult or your condition means you are unable to operate a Pay and Display machine - but these will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by your council.

The Blue Badge scheme now also includes hidden disabilities - for example people who have problems with open spaces - as an eligibility criteria.

Does a Blue Badge affect car insurance?

In general, no. But some insurers might offer a discount to Blue Badge holders, as they can park in potentially more secure areas.

Contact your insurer and ask them about their policy on this, you can be sure that you won’t end up paying more as a result of having a blue badge thanks to the Disabilities Act.

Car tax exemptions and discounts for disabled drivers

Some disabled drivers are exempt from paying road tax - vehicle excise duty - while others qualify for a discount.

The vehicle needs to be registered in the disabled person’s name or their nominated driver’s name.

It can also only be used for the disabled person’s personal needs.

You claim the exemption when you apply for vehicle tax.

You can apply for exemption from paying vehicle tax if:

You can get a 50% reduction in car tax if you get the PIP standard rate mobility component.

You cannot get a reduction for getting the DLA lower rate mobility component.