Driving & car insurance after a stroke

A stroke can be life-changing, leaving you with all sorts of questions. Are you still allowed to drive? Will you be able to get car insurance? What kind of car is best? We can help you with some of the answers.

A stroke can be life-changing, leaving you with all sorts of questions. Are you still allowed to drive? Will you be able to get car insurance? What kind of car is best? We can help you with some of the answers.

Alex Hasty
Insurance expert
5
minute read
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Last Updated 21 MARCH 2022

Can I drive after a stroke?

Having a stroke or a TIA (transient ischaemic attack/mini stroke) can seriously impact your ability to drive. You could suffer long-term problems with your eyesight, such as sight loss or double vision. You may also have difficulty concentrating and making decisions. 

Some people experience pain or weakness in their arms and legs, balance problems and odd nerve sensations – not to mention extreme tiredness and memory lapses. 

For these reasons you’re not allowed to drive for a month following a stroke. But you can start driving again once your doctor says it’s safe to do so, for example, if you don’t have any sight or cognitive issues. 

Many people can drive again as normal after a stroke – it just takes time. It could take two years or more to fully recover.

When do I need to notify the DVLA if I have a stroke?

If you drive a car, you won’t need to tell the DVLA in that first month. But if you drive a PCV (passenger-carrying vehicle) or an LGV (large goods vehicle), you’ll need to let the DVLA know about your stroke as soon as possible.

Telling them is easy. Simply go to GOV.UK and fill in the form or send an STR1 form to the DVLA. 

Remember, if you don’t tell the DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving, you could be fined £1,000. And if you’re involved in an accident as a result of a condition, you might even be prosecuted. 

In most instances, you won’t need to tell the DVLA about your stroke for the first month. But you’ll need to notify them straightaway if: 

  • You’ve had more than one stroke in the past three months
  • Your condition gets worse 
  • You’ve been having epileptic seizures
  • You’ve experienced a number of TIAs
  • You’ve had brain surgery
  • Your doctor says you’re not fit to drive
  • You’re a lorry or bus driver. 

If you’re still suffering memory loss, visual disturbance or paralysis/weakness in your arms and legs after a month, it’s time to contact the DVLA.

Do I need to tell my car insurance provider if I’ve had a stroke? 

If you’ve had a stroke or TIA, you must tell your insurance provider – even if you doctor says it’s okay for you to drive. If you don’t, you could invalidate your insurance.

Can I still get car insurance after a stroke? 

You should still be able to get car insurance, but having a medical condition could mean your premiums are more expensive. This is because you may be considered a higher risk. 

It’s worth shopping around to see if you can find a more competitive quote.

What kind of car should I drive after a stroke? 

The type of car you drive can make a big difference. Some have built-in features that make driving much easier. 

For instance, you might find an automatic car with power steering works better for you. You can even buy cars with hoists that lift you into the driver’s seat or swinging seats that make it easy to get in and out of the car. 

If you make any modifications to your car to help you drive, you may need to consider disability car insurance.

Did you know?

If a stroke has left you with permanent mobility issues and you receive certain benefits, you could be exempt from paying car tax or be eligible for a 50% discount. The vehicle must be registered in your name or your nominated driver’s name and must only be used for your personal needs.

What happens if my doctor says I’m not fit to drive? 

If your doctor says you’re unfit to drive, you’ll need to tell both your insurance provider and the DVLA. Failure to do this is a criminal offence and you could be fined. 

You might be assessed at a local mobility centre. Then the DVLA will make a decision based on that. Either you’ll: 

  • Keep your licence and carry on driving.
  • Be given a temporary licence for one, two, three or five years, then your fitness to drive will be reviewed again.
  • Be given a licence but one that specifies your car must be adapted.
  • Have your licence taken away. 

If your driving licence is taken away, you may be able to re-apply once your doctor says you’re medically fit to drive again.

Frequently asked questions

Am I eligible for a Blue Badge permit?

If a stroke impacts your mobility, you could be eligible for a Blue Badge – this allows you to use designated parking bays closer to your destination. You can use your Blue Badge permit whether you’re the driver or the passenger. 

You’ll automatically qualify for a Blue Badge if you receive certain benefits, such as the higher rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). You can also apply to your local council and they’ll decide if you’re eligible for a Blue Badge. 

Find out more about eligibility for the Blue Badge scheme at GOV.UK.

What is the Motability Scheme?

The Motability Scheme is a special type of car lease scheme available for those who qualify for certain benefits, such as Higher Mobility DLA, PIP, War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement and Armed Forces Independence Payment. 

Through the scheme, you could exchange some or all of your mobility allowance to lease a specially adapted vehicle to help you continue driving after a stroke. 

If you’re unable to drive, you’ll still be able to nominate up to three drivers on your behalf – to drive you around or do errands and food shopping, for example – as long as it benefits you. 

Find out more about eligibility on the Motability website.

What should I do if I no longer want to drive after a stroke?

Even if your doctor declares you fit to drive, it’s up to you whether you want to continue driving or not. 

If you no longer wish to drive, you can voluntarily surrender your driving licence. to the DVLA. If you decide you’d like to return to driving in the future, you can re-apply for a new licence. 

If you decide to take your car off the road during your recovery, and you don’t want to tax or insure it, you’ll need to declare a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).

How can I check my driving abilities?

If you’ve suffered a stroke, it’s understandable that your confidence may have been knocked when it comes to getting behind the wheel again. If you’re not sure of your capabilities, you might want to consider a professional driving assessment. 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) offers driving assessments to help drivers improve their confidence and driving skills on the road. If you think you can benefit from a professional assessment, contact the RoSPA to find a refresher training centre near you.

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