Motability scheme celebrates 40th anniversary

Motability, the scheme which enables disabled people, their families and their carers to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair by using their government-funded mobility allowance, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Patronised by HRH Queen Elizabeth, Motability has revolutionised the way disabled people getabout and there are currently more than 650,000 customers benefiting from the scheme in the UK.

When the idea was conceived in the mid 1970s in excess of 40 per cent of households in Britain owned a car but disabled people were missing out.

Only those who could drive themselves received any government help with transport, usually in the form of a blue trike which didn’t take passengers.

Mobility Allowance made Motability feasible for the first time

The Mobility Allowance – now called the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance – introduced by the Government in 1976 broke the mould in giving help regardless of ability to drive.

It also signalled the Government’s commitment to giving disabled people choice in the form of a cash allowance, rather than imposing certain types of vehicle on them.

The Mobility Allowance was a positive advance but it was not enough to buy and run even the smallest car.

The then Secretary of State for Health and Social Services invited Lord Goodman and Lord Sterling to consider how disabled people could use this allowance to affordably obtain a vehicle.

More than three million vehicles supplied by Motability

Their answer to the problem was Motability and, often for the first time, disabled people could afford a good quality car from any participating manufacturer, fully insured, serviced, and with breakdown assistance.

Founded in 1977, the Motability targeted motorists aged 16 to 19, and just 220 applications were processed during the scheme’s infancy.

Motability was set up as a partnership between the charitable sector, government, leading banks, and the motor and insurance industries.

Since its formal launch in July 1978 more than three million cars, scooters and powered wheelchairs have been provided.

Premium manufacturers such as Mercedes now support Motability

Customers choose a new car every three years or a wheelchair accessible vehicle every five years.

More than 30 manufacturers currently offer cars through the scheme with premium manufacturers such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes becoming popular alternatives to more mainstream suppliers such as Ford and Vauxhall. It is easy to find out if you are eligible for Motability.

  • Disabled drivers often find themselves struggling to find car insurance at an affordable rate. Chartwell Insurance provides high quality car insurance specific to disabled drivers, including benefits that would be excluded on standard policies.




Robert Kubica - Formula 1

Formula 1 racer’s comeback after life-changing injury

The Polish racing driver  is close to making an emotional return to Formula 1 six years after suffering life-changing injuries in a rally crash.

The crash left Kubica, 32, in intensive care with injuries to his right hand, arm and leg in 2011.

Kubica is now fighting his way back into F1 contention after clearing the latest in a series of tests to assess his race fitness.

The latest hurdle was the FIA‘s “extraction test”. Formula 1 drivers must be able to get out of their race car in less than five seconds and replace the steering wheel in no more than 10 seconds.

The mandatory test ensures drivers can escape quickly from their cars in the event of a crash or fire.

There had been concerns that Kubica’s forearm, partially amputated in the rally crash, would stop him being able to complete the test, but he did so with flying colours.

Kubica is veteran of 76 Formula 1 Grand Prix races

Kubica is a veteran of 76 Grands Prix – winning in Canada – and 33 World Rallies. He previously raced for BMW Sauber as well as Renault in F1.

And Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul has admitted Kubica is being considered for the F1 championship once again.

A potential Kubica return has been well-received in the world of Formula 1 with Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, who won the title in 2008 when Kubica finished fourth, claiming he was “a special driver” and one of the fastest he had come up against.

Hamilton said: “I think it will be great if he’s able to return. He has raw, natural talent.

“If he was still racing today he’d been in contention for a world title, if he’d not already won one.”

Kubica’s Formula 1 comeback driven by determination

Kubica’s comeback is down to determination, skill and hard work.

Drivers with disabilities will be pleased to know there is a specialist insurance broker to rely on if they too decide it is time to get back behind the wheel.

Chartwell Insurance are disability and mobility specialists and are pleased to offer cover for virtually any car and any driver.


Gadgets to help drivers with mobility issues.

Gadgets to help drivers with mobility issues

It may be an age thing, an old sports injury, or the result of illness or accident, but if you are adriver suffering mobility issues even the simple things can seem difficult.

Car mobility aids can allow people with mobility issues to continue to drive their own car enabling them to get out and about instead of being stuck at home.

Six cheap gadgets to help drivers with mobility issues:

  • A support handle that clamps easily to the U-shaped plate on a car door frame, the Handybar offers extra support and leverage, allowing a person to get in and out of vehicles more easily.
  • A steering wheel mushroom clamps easily and securely to the car steering wheel making it easier to manoeuvre. It can be transferred swiftly from car to car.
  • The swivel seat sits on the factory-fitted car seat and helps you get in and out. The foam padded seat is comfortable and its ball bearing turntable ensures a smooth rotation. They normally have a removeable cover so they can be washed regularly too.
  • Auto hand grips fit onto the posts of the front seat head restraints and help those with mobility issues get in and out of the rear of cars.
  • Extra leverage key fobs are designed to help those with a weak grip, perhaps because of arthritis, injury or tender joints. Any key will fit into the fob to give you extra grip and leverage making key turning easier.
  • A moulded plastic disability flag is invaluable for those parking in car parks. The flag lips over the edge of a car window to indicate that disabled access is required, encouraging others not to park too closely. Simply slot the flag over the window edge and close the window to secure it.

Active Mobility has even more ideas for gadgets aimed at making it easier to drive if you have mobility issues.

Here the team of experts at Chartwell Insurance has produced a guide to insurance for disabled drivers.








Guide to travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions

Getting the right travel insurance is one of those mundane pre-holiday tasks that could just turn out to be the most important part of your preparation.

It’s even more important, and can be a little more tricky, to get the right cover if you need insurance to cover you for a pre-existing medical condition.

On any health-related insurance application, you’ll need to declare any conditions you’ve either suffered from in the past or have at the time you travel – failure to do so could invalidate any claim.

And that’s where the problems start, as many insurers will exclude cover relating to any of these pre-existing conditions – or charge a hefty additional premium.

Failure to get the right cover could leave you with large healthcare bills if you’re taken ill in a country that doesn’t provide free healthcare, which is nearly all of them, and no redress if you need to change your flight arrangements or need a relative or carer to stay with you.

If you’re staying in Europe, a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will allow you get treatment in state-run hospitals or dentists on the same basis as the locals in any country in the “European Economic Area” – which includes Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The Association of British Insurers recommends using the EHIC for more minor treatments such a visit to dentists or doctors, and claiming on your more comprehensive travel insurance for more serious or emergency medical treatment.

We’ve put together a few frequently asked questions about travel insurance for people with pre-existing conditions:

Can I get cover for my pre-existing medical condition or disability?

Yes, specialist insurance brokers like Chartwell are perfectly placed to provide a competitive quote that will provide the right cover whether you are travelling with a wheelchair, need a carer, or need to take special medication with you on holiday.

Will it be more expensive than standard travel insurance?

Healthcare is almost always the most expensive part of a travel insurance claim, and therefore insurers are likely to charge a little more for people who are more likely to need to claim. But if you speak to a specialist broker and give as much information as possible about your condition, they will be able help you find the best deal.

What questions will the insurer ask me about my condition?

Insurers will want to know the exact nature of the condition or disability, what medication you have been prescribed and when, and what treatment had been received. They will probably want to know if you are awaiting surgery or treatment, and whether you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal condition.

What type of conditions do I need to disclose?

You need to make your insurer aware of conditions relating to circulatory problems like strokes, high blood pressure or cholesterol issues; heart and respiratory conditions; cancer; liver conditions; mental health conditions, including eating disorders. This is not an exhaustive list, and you should refer to your insurer if you are unclear what you should disclose.

Will my medication be covered?

Yes, not only is your medication covered, but urgent replacement is covered up to a value of £300.

What if my carer becomes ill?

If you are travelling with a carer and they have a policy with Chartwell and fall ill, costs to fly out a replacement carer will be paid.

What if the airline won’t let me fly?

It will usually be a condition of the policy that you are “fit to travel” when embarking on your holiday. On rare occasions, an airline may not let you fly if they think the flight will exacerbate your condition or endanger other passengers, so you should always check the airline’s policy before booking your flight.

Wheelchair history

The History of Wheelchairs – From Ancient Tools to Electric Scooters

Mankind has been making use of wheelchairs to assist people living with disabilities for thousands of years. And from the very first attempts, nothing more than re-purposed wheelbarrows really, through to the electric wheelchairs of today and the incredible inventions still to come, wheelchair designs and technology have certainly come a long way.

In the infographic below, we plot a course through wheelchair history, from the earliest efforts and the first self-propelled wheelchairs, through to modern foldable wheelchairs and electric mobility scooters.

History wheelchair

You can download the infographic here.

Got any interesting facts about wheelchair history, or own an antique wheelchair yourself?

Let us know in the comments below or get in touch on social media. Chartwell provides a range of affordable insurance for all types of electric wheelchair and mobility scooter.