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Can I get car insurance and drive after a stroke?

A stroke can be life-changing, especially if you’re used to getting out and about in your car or you drive for a living. Here’s what you need to know about whether you can drive after a stroke and how it affects your car insurance.

A stroke can be life-changing, especially if you’re used to getting out and about in your car or you drive for a living. Here’s what you need to know about whether you can drive after a stroke and how it affects your car insurance.

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
21 MARCH 2022
5 min read
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Can you drive after a stroke?

Whether you can drive after a stroke will depend on your recovery and the type of licence you hold.

By law, you’re not allowed to drive for at least one month following a stroke or a TIA (transient ischaemic attack/mini stroke). That’s because a stroke can seriously affect your ability to drive. You could experience:

  • Problems with your eyesight
  • Pain or weakness in your arms and legs
  • Balance problems and odd nerve sensations
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Memory lapses and difficulty concentrating.

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 problems.

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

Do I need to tell the DVLA about my stroke?

You’ll only need to tell the DVLA you’ve had a stroke if you’re still having problems one month after it happened. But if you drive a bus, coach or lorry, 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. 

If you drive a car, you won’t need to tell the DVLA about your stroke unless:

  • 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’ll also need to contact the DVLA if, a month after your stroke, you’re still suffering memory loss, visual disturbance or paralysis/weakness in your arms and legs.

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.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you should let the DVA know about any medical conditions that affect your driving.

Do I need to inform my car insurance provider after a TIA or stroke? 

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

Driving after a TIA or stroke can increase your risk factors, so your provider may ask for confirmation from your GP that you’re safe on the roads.

What kind of car should I drive after a stroke? 

The type of car you drive after a stroke can make a big difference to convenience. 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. Not doing this is a criminal offence and you could be fined.

You might be asked to take a driving assessment at a local mobility centre. The DVLA will then 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.

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

If you choose to give up driving after a stroke, 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).

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

Alternatives to driving after a stroke

If you have to give up your driving licence for medical reasons, you may need to look for other forms of transport to get around. Options could include:

  • Community transport – in many areas, local councils provide community transport schemes for people with disabilities who can’t use public transport. They will often take you from door-to-door or cover fixed routes.
  • Access to Work grant – if you’re unable to use public transport because of your disability, the Access to Work scheme can help with the cost of getting to and from work. For example, it could cover taxi fares or paying to adapt your vehicle.
  • Mobility scooter – ShopMobility hires out powered scooters to people who need help getting to the shops or accessing leisure facilities. 

If you’re able to travel on public transport, options could include a Disabled Person’s Railcard or a free bus pass.

What if I drive for a living?

If you drive for your job, a stroke can massively affect your income and daily life. You might have to step back from your usual duties for a while, or even give up driving altogether. These are the rules for different types of driving jobs:

  • Taxi driver – you must tell your local authority about your stroke and any health conditions. They will decide the medical standards you must meet before you can return to driving.
  • Lorry or bus driver – you won’t be able to drive for at least a year after a stroke or TIA.
  • Police vehicle or ambulance driver – how long you’re off the road for is at the discretion of your employer, but they may follow the same rules as for larger vehicles.

Speak to your employer about your options, as you may need to retrain or look for an alternative role. If you can’t work the way you used to, find out what benefits you’re entitled to or seek advice from your local Jobcentre Plus, which has employment advisors for people with disabilities. 

Can I still get car insurance after a stroke?

You should still be able to get car insurance after a stroke, assuming you’re declared fit to drive. But having a medical condition could mean your premiums are more expensive. This is because you may be considered a higher risk.

The cost of your insurance is also likely to go up if you need your vehicle to be adapted for driving after a stroke.

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

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Frequently asked questions

How long should I wait to drive after having a stroke?

The decision may not be yours to make. You can’t drive for at least a month after you’ve had a stroke or TIA – longer if you drive a large vehicle. Whether you can return to driving after that will depend on what long-term disabilities you may have.

You should always get advice from your GP or stroke team about any health conditions that may affect your driving. Once you’ve been given the all-clear, you’re free to get back behind the wheel as soon as you feel ready.

Can I drive after a mild stroke?

No, you must still stop driving for a minimum of a month even if your stroke is mild. You can only restart when your doctor gives you the green light.

Many people who experience a TIA are allowed to drive their car again soon afterwards. But if you’re experiencing secondary effects, such as impaired vision, mobility loss or memory problems, you may need rehab or have to pass a driving assessment before you can take to the roads again.

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.

Can I take a driving assessment after a stroke?

You might have to, if the DVLA requests it. But a driving assessment after a stroke can also help with your own peace of mind as it’s understandable that your confidence may have been knocked when it comes to getting behind the wheel again.

The charity Driving Mobility offers courses at various locations across the UK, where an assessor will give you an honest appraisal of your driving skills.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) also offers driving assessments after strokes to help drivers improve their confidence and driving skills. Contact RoSPA to find a refresher training centre near you.

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Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie

Rebecca Goodman - personal finance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca

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