If you've been diagnosed with dementia many insurance companies will allow you to continue to drive, as long as the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) or Northern Ireland's Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) have been informed and agreed that you can carry on driving.
You should ensure you notify your insurance company if you receive a dementia diagnosis.
We reviewed the companies on our list of the best car insurance companies to see what action you'll need to take if you have been diagnosed with dementia and you're looking for a new insurance policy.
Car insurance if the driver has dementia
We contacted the insurance companies in our list of the best car insurance companies to see if an applicant needs to inform them of a dementia diagnosis because it is a DVLA notifiable condition.
- Aviva will cover dementia long as you're deemed fit to drive by the DVLA. Aviva says you'll need to notify it of any DVLA notifiable conditions, which will be added to your policy.
- Saga will cover you as long as the DVLA and a doctor have agreed that you're safe to drive. You don't need to notify Saga of a diagnosis when you purchase a car insurance policy.
- Churchill will cover dementia as long as you have permission from your doctors and the DVLA. You don't need to notify Churchill when you purchase your insurance.
- LV= will cover you as long as you've notified the DVLA and it has been agreed you can continue to drive. The condition doesn’t need to be added to your policy.
- John Lewis Finance says that as long as the DVLA has given you permission to drive you can purchase cover. However, its website won't allow you to get a quote if you have a DVLA notifiable condition so you will still need to call John Lewis's team.
- Direct Line can offer cover if you've been certified as safe to drive by the DVLA. You don’t need to inform it of your medical condition.
- Tesco Bank asks you to agree to a statement that you've told the DVLA or relevant licencing authority of all notifiable conditions and that they’ve agreed you're safe to drive.
- More Than's eligibility conditions include a statement that says you've referred any relevant health conditions to the DVLA and that you have been allowed to retain your driving licence.
- Hastings Direct has a statement on its website that advises it can't offer cover if you haven't notified the DVLA of any notifiable condition. It may be best to call Hastings Direct to purchase cover.
- RIAS (Over 50s only) offers cover if the DVLA has been notified. You don't need to contact RIAS to have your condition added to the policy.
Read on to learn about:
- Can someone with dementia drive a car?
- Why does dementia affect your driving?
- Dementia driving assessment
Can someone with dementia drive a car?
Yes, as long as the DVLA has issued them a licence and their insurance company has agreed that it will still insure them.
Dementia is listed as a DVLA notifiable condition, so its essential that you take these steps.
If you're diagnosed with dementia it doesn’t automatically mean you're unable to drive. In fact, in the early stages of the condition, one in three people continue to drive, according to Alzheimer's Society.
You must inform the DVLA in England and Wales or the DVA if you live in Northern Ireland.
If you don’t, you'll risk receiving a fine of up to £1,000. If you have an accident and haven’t informed the DVLA or DVA of your diagnosis you could face prosecution.
Once notified the DVLA will decide if you're well enough to continue driving. They may contact your GP or medical professional for more information, ask you to attend an examination or ask you to take a driving test.
A decision can take up to six weeks.
It’s essential that you inform your car insurance provider. If it hasn't been notified your car insurance could be invalid and any claims may be rejected.
Depending on how advanced the dementia is, your doctor may advise you to stop driving straight away.
Don't be tempted to avoid telling the DVLA of your diagnosis. It's a legal requirement, and if you or your family refuse to disclose a diagnosis your doctor is authorised to inform the DVLA on your behalf.
If this happens they'll need to let you know.
Why does dementia affect your driving?
Driving requires quick thinking, coordination, spatial awareness and good judgement.
Even though dementia is associated with memory loss, it can also affect cognitive skills.
When the first signs of dementia begin, your symptoms may not be too bad, however, as the condition advances it can affect driving in the following ways:
- Reduced visio-spatial awareness can make it harder to judge distances. For example, keeping an appropriate stopping distance between you and the car in front or parking.
- You may begin to feel increased anxiety and confusion on busy roads, or in pressurised situations.
- Your judgement and reaction times may change.
- You may misinterpret road signs, which could lead to difficult or dangerous situations for you and other drivers.
- It may be harder to concentrate and stay focused on driving. You might be distracted more often.
Some people decide to give up driving and return their licence to the DVLA. This is known as Voluntary Surrender.
Dementia driving assessment
If you have received a diagnosis and the DVLA is unsure of your abilities you may be asked to attend a driving assessment.
The DVLA will pay for it and it’s likely you'll attend the nearest assessment centre to where you live.
The assessment usually last for around two hours and is carried out by a specialist occupational therapist and a driving instructor.
The aim of the test is to see how your dementia is affecting your driving.
If the DVLA advises that you can continue driving then it's likely you'll be issued with a driving licence valid for one year. In very early cases of dementia, you may receive a three-year licence.
It's worth asking a friend or family member to keep an eye on your driving and if you feel it's getting worse you should speak to your doctor. It’s better to be safe, than worry about the likelihood of an accident.
If you do need to give up driving, try to focus on the benefits it will bring. Less stress, improved safety, more money and new opportunities to make friends when using public transport.
If you're retired you qualify for a free bus pass, which saves even more money on transport. You can get out and about without all the stress of the busy roads.
If you live in London you may be able to qualify for a 60+ Oyster card, a Freedom pass or a Veterans Oyster photocard offering free transport on a range of services.
You may also be able to apply for a Disabled Person's Bus Pass. You'll need to contact your local council to see if you qualify.