Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition known for causing periods of extreme happiness, followed by periods of extreme sadness. While the severity of the condition varies, bipolar disorder can also be characterized as a disability in all cases, which can affect car insurance premiums.

Typically, insurance companies do not offer discounts for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. In fact, bipolar disorder can increase insurance premiums due to the risk associated with certain aspects of the disorder.

So if there are no discounts offered for people with bipolar disorder, can the diagnosis affect insurance cost in any way? In this article, you will learn what is and is not a valid reason for insurance companies to raise premiums if you or someone you know has bipolar disorder.

Discounts Available for People with Bipolar Disorder

Insurance companies offer discounts for things like safe driving records, insurance bundles, and affiliations with specific organizations. There are also discounts available for cars with safety features built-in and drivers who have successfully taken certain driving courses. All of these can be pursued by people with bipolar disorder. 

In fact, a safe driving record can simultaneously serve to reassure insurance providers that the customer’s diagnosis does not make them a risk to themselves and others on the road. Although this proof alone will not result in a discount, it could be a deciding factor in making sure your prices do not rise due to assumed risk.

Does Having Bipolar Affect Car Insurance?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination because of their medical conditions. Insurance cost is one of those areas. Insurance companies are not allowed to charge more based on the diagnosis of a disability, as this would be considered discrimination.

However, there are certain cases in which they can still raise premiums for those with disabilities, such as:

  • If a disability causes a safety risk to the driver or others on the road.
  • If a disability requires the vehicle to be altered, such as with a wheelchair ramp or a special type of seat accommodation.

Therefore, having bipolar disorder certainly can affect car insurance costs, though insurance providers will have to find a legitimate way to justify a rise in cost. Being aware of the nuances, possibilities, and realities of driving with bipolar disorder will help the customer to ensure they are receiving fair rates while also staying safe on the road.

Can Insurance Companies Use a Bipolar Diagnosis to Raise Rates?

It is illegal for insurance companies to use a diagnosis alone as a reason to raise someone’s insurance premiums. However, insurance companies will raise premiums if a driver is considered high risk. A bipolar diagnosis can result in the determination that the driver is high-risk.

Most likely, bipolar disorder will be considered a pre-existing condition. Consequently, insurance companies will assess risk by comparing the information provided by the customer to others with a similar diagnosis. Because of this, people with bipolar disorder should seek out a detailed report to provide to their insurance company.

Ideally, the relationship between doctor and patient will be strong enough that the patient can disclose their concerns about insurance to their doctor. Just as ideally, the doctor will feel comfortable composing a report or letter that will convince insurance providers that the patient does not pose a heightened risk.

Driving while Medicated

If you are taking certain medications, it is important that you talk with your doctor about driving. Whether prescribed or not, some medications can impair driving abilities, such as:

  • The ability to focus
  • Alertness
  • Eyesight

It is critical that people taking medications are aware of how they are being affected by those medications and stop driving immediately if this ability is impaired even slightly. If an accident is caused by a person on medication, that person is subject to legal responsibility whether or not the medication was prescribed.

Many of the medication types that would likely be prescribed to a person with bipolar disorder are listed as risk factors for drivers. For this reason, it is crucial for drivers to understand the effects of medicine on their bodies, check-in regularly with these effects, and communicate openly with their doctors.

Driving with Bipolar

Driving with bipolar disorder can be an extremely manageable task. The greatest risk is for drivers to experience a manic episode while driving. Mania is extreme happiness that can be associated with reckless decision-making. Risk-taking while driving can pose a threat to the driver or others on the road.

Periods of mania go beyond just thrill-seeking to behavior that will not listen to reason without medication. Because of this, drivers experiencing manic episodes are likely to drive at high speeds and perform maneuvers that put themselves and others at risk of injury or worse.

Periods of mania can also lead to difficulty concentrating and lack of sleep. Oftentimes, manic people experience racing thoughts that can severely distract them. Although mania causes energy levels to rise, which leads to a lack of sleep, the result of extended periods of time without sleep is extreme fatigue, which can come on very quickly.

Also, if an individual with bipolar disorder is off their meds, they can potentially have thoughts of paranoia and hallucinations, which can severely impact driving ability and behavior. Due to this, those with bipolar disorder have an increased risk of accidents while driving.

The Depressive State

According to Healthline, there are symptoms associated with the depressive side of bipolar disorder that can negatively impact driving abilities. A few examples are:

  • Fatigue
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Concentration

Both of those symptoms can put the driver and others on the road at acute risk. Extreme fatigue can slow reaction times, and suicidal thoughts can lead to dangerous driving.

Insurance companies will look for a history of public manic or depressive episodes either for the driver or others with a similar diagnosis and might deem these possibilities a risk. With this, they could lawfully raise insurance costs.

Do I Have To Disclose My Diagnosis To Insurance?

If you have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, you are required to disclose that information to the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This can be done by filling out a form. Additionally, you should tell the insurance agency of this diagnosis.

Keeping information about a diagnosis from insurance companies could result in a policy cancellation. If you have to file a claim and your insurance provider finds out that you have a bipolar diagnosis, they can refuse to pay out that claim. Furthermore, your insurance company could take you to court for failing to disclose your diagnosis.

The bottom line is that a diagnosis of bipolar disorder can result in higher insurance costs if a higher risk is associated. On the other hand, keeping this information from insurance companies could cost you in the long run. When it comes down to it, it is still all about weighing the possible and probable risks of the situation.

Conclusion

While there are no car insurance discounts specifically for having a bipolar diagnosis, people with such a diagnosis can pursue other discounts offered by their chosen provider. Quite oppositely, communicating a diagnosis of bipolar disorder to insurance providers can lead to an assessment of high risk, which would raise insurance costs.

However, there are possible counters to an assessment of riskiness on the road that people with bipolar disorder can seek out. In addition to saving the customer money in the short-term, these measures can be protective in the long-run.