If my father with dementia gets into a car accident, will his insurer cover it?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My father has mild to moderate dementia. If he continues to drive and gets in an accident, can his insurer refuse to cover him on the basis of negligence for continuing to drive with a diagnosed memory loss? He lives in Florida.

Expert Answer

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

This is one of those questions we fear to face but in just asking the question, we become liable. Well, maybe not in this case, because the caregiver asking is anonymous.

The right thing to do is to ask.


For several reasons.

ONE, it's the right thing to do to keep our roads safe.

TWO, he may still be able to function normally despite a stigmatizing diagnosis and would suffer from a reduced quality of life if his driving privileges were removed.

THREE, how would you feel if you learned your father had a disorienting moment and plowed into a family's van killing their small children, today?

Review the small print in your father's vehicle insurance to see what it covers and doesn't.

Insurers have not yet started adding terminology re: drivers with dementia as each person has different abilities and it's hard to be fair with a blanket liability statement.

Arrange to have your father's neurologist or geriatric physician (a specialist) assess your father's coordination and judgment for driving.

Whether his driving privileges are removed or not must be weighed against road safety (utmost importance) versus his quality of life to retain his independence.

Here's a related article to shed additional light: When should a person with dementia stop driving?[thecaregiversvoice.com]