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   Out of the home > Products > Mini Guide: Adaptive
Mini Guide: Adaptive Vehicles

One of the most complicated and costly investments for a person with a disability is buying an adaptive vehicle, which can cost as much as $80,000. Deciding which package and features to include can be a very difficult decision, especially for families already dealing with mounting stacks of medical bills.

Therefore, it is important to consider different variables and follow a decision making process before making this large investment. The following steps according to Disaboom a now defunct online community designed for people with disabilities, outlines the important considerations to make in the process of purchasing an adaptive vehicle.

Is the cost worth the savings in the long run?

The first step in the process of buying an adaptive vehicle is to determine the cost versus the potential savings down the road. Adaptive vehicles vary in price depending on the base package and the modifications needed. Both public and private programs are available to help gauge the cost of adapting a car to the unique needs of an individual with disabilities. Other great resources include the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, or, for veterans with a service-related disability, consulting with the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs can be very helpful.

Private insurance or workman's compensation may cover the cost of an adaptive vehicle. In addition, many non-profit associations offer grant programs designed to help cover the cost of adaptive services, and many vehicle manufacturers have or plan to implement rebate/reimbursement programs. Some states will even waive the sales tax if individuals have a doctor's prescription stating the need for an adaptive vehicle.

Another important step to take when discerning the cost of such a vehicle is to speak with a qualified tax consultant who can verify if the cost of the adaptive vehicle qualifies as a medical deduction.

Obtaining an Adaptive Vehicle License

The second step is to get a license to operate an adaptive vehicle. If an individual does not already have an adaptive vehicle license, they will need to apply for a learner's permit. This permit is a prerequisite to meeting with a driver rehabilitation specialist, who will perform a road evaluation to decide what adaptive technology is needed.

The In-Person Driving Evaluation

A driving evaluation should be conducted when an individual feels most comfortable behind the wheel, specifically to avoid paying for technology that might not be needed. Driver rehabilitation specialists can be found by contacting a local rehabilitation center or the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists.

The specialist will test a variety of abilities, including vision, muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion, coordination and reaction time, judgment and decision making abilities, as well as the ability to drive with adaptive equipment.

Purchasing the Vehicle

When it comes time to purchase the vehicle, a driver rehabilitation specialist can be extremely helpful in the process. The main consideration for most individuals is size. The right model will accommodate the driver and passengers, as well as any adaptive equipment. The insurance company should be contacted before purchasing an adaptive vehicle to outline any limitations on coverage and avoid unnecessary headaches later.

Finding the Right Dealer to Perform Modifications

Finding a dealer that specializes in modifications is important as it directly affects the safety and dependability of the vehicle. Driver rehabilitation specialists serve as a great resource to help locate qualified dealers. Ideal dealerships are members of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, which defines vehicle conversion standards.

Hone Driving Skills Through Training

The modifications experts at the dealership generally require additional training and resources on driving the newly-purchased adaptive vehicle. In some cases, the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation will help finance additional training. Owners should also consider training family and friends on how to operate the vehicle in case of an emergency.

Buying your first adaptive vehicle can be an intimidating process.

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Kim Donahue
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