The cost of your auto insurance depends on several factors, and each insurer uses a different set of underwriting criteria to measure the risk you present. Your age and driving history are critical to all insurers, but what you may not have realized is that your medical history is increasingly relevant too. People with diabetes are often puzzled to find that their medical condition affects the auto insurance they can buy. Find out why.
Diabetes in the United States
The American Diabetes Association estimates that 29.1 people in the United States have diabetes, which equates to roughly 9 percent of the population. Indeed, doctors make 1.7 million new diagnoses every year. The condition affects people of all ages, although seniors are more susceptible to the disease.
Sadly, diabetes is one of the most common causes of death in the United States, and the disease can lead to a range of complications including stroke, blindness and heart disease. Complications from diabetes can even lead to the loss of limbs and other permanent disabilities. As such, the disease can severely impair your ability to drive safely, so an auto insurer needs to take your symptoms into account when offering coverage.
The main risks
Drivers with diabetes face several risks, but there are two common side effects.
Hyperglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels become abnormally high. This complication affects people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Symptoms normally develop slowly, but, at a later stage, you may suffer from nausea and vomiting, breathing problems, weakness and confusion. If any of these symptoms strike while you are behind the wheel, you could pose a significant safety hazard to yourself and other drivers.
Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs because your blood sugar levels are too low. Early symptoms can include heart palpitations, shakiness, irritability and sweating. Later symptoms include blurred vision, confusion and even seizures that can cause you to lose consciousness. Again, any of these symptoms could lead to disaster on the road.
Due to the risks that diabetes symptoms can pose, state laws place certain restrictions on drivers with the condition. Laws vary by state but conditions that may apply include:
- Restrictions on driving at night
- Lower speed limits
- Restrictions on where you can drive
In many states, you will need a special medical evaluation before the licensing authority will grant you a license. You will also often face mandatory reporting conditions that apply if you suffer a hypoglycemic episode. For example, doctors in California must report any loss of consciousness due to hypoglycemia to the licensing authority. In these cases, the authority is likely to revoke your license.
What your insurer will want to know
You must tell your insurer that you have diabetes. The insurer will also need to know about any change in the condition or the treatment that your doctor prescribes. The insurer may even ask for a medical report.
It's important to understand that an insurer may decline your application based on the information contained in a medical report. For example, if your doctor mentions a seizure or other serious symptom, the insurance company will often refuse coverage.
Insurance companies sometimes charge a higher premium for somebody with diabetes. To keep the costs down, your insurer may offer a higher excess. While this will keep the annual premium at a lower rate, you should remember that you will have to pay a higher amount towards a claim.
Managing the risks
Diabetics must all learn how to manage their illness, and, with the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can drive as safely as anyone else. Controlling your symptoms will lower the risk of an accident, which, in turn, will protect your auto insurance over the long-term. As such, you should talk to your doctor immediately about any changes in your symptoms.
You should also check your blood glucose level before you drive. Don't drive until your blood glucose has been in the target range for at least fifteen minutes. You should also keep healthy snacks in the car that contain fast-acting sugars. If you suspect any symptoms, pull over and take action. Call for help if you don't think you can continue to drive. It's just not worth taking any risks.
Diabetes is a serious health issue in the United States, and the disease can also affect many aspects of daily life. Make sure you declare your condition to your car insurer, and carefully manage your symptoms to lower the risk of an accident.
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