Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles, or WAVs as they are known, are vehicles that have been converted so that wheelchair users can stay in their wheelchair to travel, either as a passenger or driver. Here, Chartwell Insurance, a completely independent insurance broker that offers a specialist, caring service for disabled customers, takes a look at what to consider when buying a WAV.
Motability has produced a downloadable document and an accompanying DVD to provide help on choosing your WAV and the financial help available when purchasing a WAV.
It’s important to establish what type of WAV you require. There are four main types, depending on whether the person in the wheelchair is driving or travelling as a passenger:
- A passenger only vehicle – this is where the person in the wheelchair is not the driver, and cannot or does not wish to access the driving position. These can vary in size from small cars right through to large multi-passenger vehicles, and also vary depending on where the passenger wishes to travel, i.e. upfront or somewhere within the rear of the vehicle.
- An internal transfer WAV, where the wheelchair user transfers from the wheelchair into the driver’s seat once inside the vehicle.
- A WAV driven by the wheelchair user whilst still in the wheelchair.
- A motor-trike where the rider gains access to the trike via a rear ramp and then pilots the vehicle while seated in their wheelchair. There are also various motorbike and trike conversions where the rider transfers to the seat to drive and carries the wheelchair somewhere about the vehicle.
Once you’ve found the type you want it is important to get a full demonstration and training on how to use the vehicle securing system and seat belt.
It is vital to take a test drive to check the vehicle matches your requirements and so that the driver gets a feel for how it handles. Motability has produced a checklist to ensure you ask all the right questions to get the best out of your WAV. While on the test drive, ensure you drive over speed bumps and round as many roundabouts as you can to check the stability of the wheelchair in the vehicle and ensure the wheelchair passenger/driver feels secure and comfortable.
Once you have purchased a WAV it is important to get insurance cover that takes into account, not only the difference in requirements of a WAV to a standard car, but also any modifications and adaptations required.