A guide to driving with medical conditions

If you've been diagnosed with a medical condition, it could affect your ability to drive safely. Here's what you need to know about notifying the relevant parties and how it might impact your car insurance.

If you've been diagnosed with a medical condition, it could affect your ability to drive safely. Here's what you need to know about notifying the relevant parties and how it might impact your car insurance.

Alex Hasty
Insurance expert
7
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Last Updated 4 JANUARY 2022

Are there any driving restrictions placed on people with medical conditions? 

There are restrictions, but they vary depending on the specific medical condition you’re suffering from and how it will affect your ability to drive safely. For example, someone with poor eyesight will be required to wear their glasses or contact lenses at all times while driving.

Do I need to disclose my medical condition?

In most cases, you'll need to disclose your medical condition to both your car insurance provider and the DVLA. The exception is if you're deaf. There are currently no restrictions on driving a car, van or motorcycle with a hearing impairment.

What are the notifiable medical conditions for car insurance?

A notifiable medical condition is one that you need to report because it could affect your ability to drive safely. If you suffer from any of the following, it’s essential that you notify the DVLA and your car insurance provider:

  • Diabetes (especially if you’re taking insulin)
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Fainting spells
  • A heart condition
  • Epilepsy
  • Strokes
  • Glaucoma

But these aren’t the only medical conditions that require disclosure. There are several other conditions, including neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease and dementia, as well as serious head injuries and limb disabilities, that you must report to the DVLA. You’ll also need to disclose common mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety, if they affect your ability to drive safely. 

If you’re not sure if a mental health condition, or any medication you’re taking for it, may affect your ability to drive, your doctor should be able to help. 

If in doubt, the DVLA has a handy online tool you can use to confirm if you need to report your medical condition. It also has an A-Z list of conditions you can check, with links to further guidance for certain conditions. 

A basic rule of thumb is, if you need to report a condition to the DVLA, you’ll also need to report it to your car insurance provider. You’ll also need to let the DVLA know if your medical condition gets worse so it can re-evaluate your case.

How should I notify the DVLA of my medical condition?

You can find the relevant forms online via the gov.co.uk website

If you live in Northern Ireland, you’ll need to contact the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) instead. 

The DVLA will contact you by letter once it has assessed your case. In some cases, it may need to speak to your doctor or arrange for you to have an examination, or may ask you to go for an eye test. The DVLA could also ask you to take a driving test to assess your ability to drive safely. Unfortunately, due to the backlog created by the Covid-19 pandemic, this is likely to take longer than usual.

Do I need to tell the DVLA if I start taking medication? 

It depends. If you start taking long-term medication for a notifiable condition – for example, if you’re diagnosed with diabetes and put on insulin – then you’ll probably need to inform the DVLA. It’s best to ask your doctor about any long-term medication they’ve prescribed and how it may affect your driving. 

It’s not necessary to inform the DVLA about a short-term course of medication you’re taking, unless it’s been prescribed due to a notifiable condition that has developed or worsened over time. However, it’s important to remember that it’s illegal to drive in the UK on any drugs or medication that impairs your ability to drive safely. 

Certain medications are known to impair your ability to drive safely, even when taken correctly. If you’re prescribed any of the following medication, consult your doctor to see if it’s safe for you to continue driving: 

  • amphetamines
  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • flunitrazepam
  • lorazepam
  • methadone
  • morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, like codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
  • oxazepam
  • temazepam

What happens if I don’t disclose my medical condition to the DVLA?

You could be fined up to £1,000 if you fail to let the DVLA know about your condition. If you're involved in an accident and you haven't disclosed something that could affect your ability to drive safely, you might even be prosecuted.

What happens if I don’t disclose my medical condition to my insurance provider? 

When you take out car insurance, you’ll normally be asked by your provider if you have any medical conditions that have been declared to the DVLA. If you fail to tell your provider about any medical conditions that impact your ability to drive safely and you need to make a claim, it could invalidate your insurance.

What medical conditions can’t you drive with?

The DVLA works on a case-by-case basis. It will make its decision based on how your condition might affect your ability to drive, with input from your doctor or specialist. While you might be allowed to keep driving, the DVLA could insist that you adapt your car or that you get a new licence. It may also insist on a licence with a shorter validity, to be reviewed in one, two, three or five years’ time. If it decides that you’re not able to drive safely because of your medical condition, it may ask you to surrender your licence.

Will I pay more for car insurance if I have a medical condition?

Some insurance providers may charge higher premiums for those with certain conditions because they’ve assessed that the condition puts you in a higher risk category. 

The key to saving money is to shop around and compare quotes. Luckily, Compare the Market is here to make things easy. We’ll compare quotes from a wide range of insurance providers in the UK, in a few minutes. Start a quote with us today.

Frequently asked questions

Will I have to surrender my licence due to a medical condition?

It depends on the seriousness of your condition and how it impacts your ability to drive safely. If your doctor tells you to stop driving or your medical condition affects your ability to drive safely for three months or more, you’ll need to surrender your driving licence to the DVLA. Once a medical professional determines that you meet the required medical standards to drive safely again, you can apply to get your licence back.

Can I continue to drive while waiting for a decision from the DVLA?

In most cases you can legally continue to drive while you’re waiting for a decision from the DVLA, if a doctor has declared you fit to drive.

Can I appeal a decision from the DVLA?

Yes, if you don’t agree with the DVLA’s decision to remove your licence you can make an appeal. You’ll need to prove that you meet the required standards for safe driving, detailed in the explanation sent to you by the DVLA. Bear in mind that the DVLA is unlikely to reverse its decision unless you can provide new evidence.

I’ve started wearing glasses since my licence was issued. Do I need to tell the DVLA?

When you first apply for your licence, you’ll need to state on your application if you need to wear glasses or contact lenses when driving. If you’ve been diagnosed as short-sighted, long-sighted or colour blind since you got your licence you don’t need to inform the DVLA, but you will need to wear your glasses or contact lenses at all times when driving or you could face prosecution. If you have another eye condition that affects your eyesight, you may need to report it to the DVLA. 

If you need to re-apply for your driving licence, the DVLA will ask you to take an eyesight test at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to check you meet the standards of vision for driving. However, the NHS recommends that adults get their eyes checked every two years to make sure your vision is up to scratch.

Can I drive after surgery?

General anaesthetic can stay in your body for 48 hours so it’s important not to drive for at least two days after a surgical procedure. Ask a friend or family member to get you home safely from the hospital. 

Depending on the operation you’ve had it may take longer for you to get back behind the wheel. Talk to your doctor to better understand the longer term implications for any planned surgery. It’s worth checking your car insurance policy too, to see if they have any exclusions related to driving after surgery. If you’re still unable to drive three months after the operation, you’ll need to inform the DVLA.

Am I eligible for a Blue Badge?

The Blue Badge scheme helps you park closer to certain services if you’re disabled or struggle to walk because of a medical condition. You’ll be eligible for a Blue Badge if you’ve qualified for certain benefits, like the higher rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Other eligibility criteria for a Blue Badge will be determined and assessed by your local council. You can check your eligibility for a blue badge and apply on the gov.uk website.

Looking for a quote?

Compare quotes with us today and see if you can start saving. 

Get a quote
Compare car insurance Get a quote