The Fixer: driving and dementia

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Dear Fixer,

My 72-year-old mother was recently diagnosed with dementia. The condition is mild at present and she still seems fine to drive.

Her doctor has also said that he is happy for her to continue driving for another year at least.

Do we need to inform her car insurer that she has the condition? She is on quite a low income, so I don't want her insurance costs to go up unnecessarily. Thank you for your help.

M Harman, Gloucester

Dear Ms Harman,

Your mother must inform the DVLA of her diagnosis, and undergo regular check ups with her doctor to ensure she remains fit to drive.

She should already have reapplied for her licence when she became 70, and must also renew it every three years - i.e. next year and at the age of 76 - from here on in.

However, she is not legally obliged to inform her insurer about her condition.

The AA said: "Obviously, we cannot provide cover for someone whose doctor has said they are not fit to drive.

"But as long as your doctor says you can drive, you do not have to inform your insurer about a diagnosis."

That said, informing the insurer will at least ensure that there are no problems should she have to make a claim, and will not necessarily lead to her insurance premium going up.

Aviva said: "If someone is granted a licence, then we will provide cover at normal terms. This will not affect the person's premium, as we do not apply a 'loading' for any medical condition."

Even though she is not legally obliged to inform the company about her dementia, she may therefore have nothing to lose by disclosing it.

The Fixer

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