Vehicle modifications explained
Vehicle modifications mean changes to a vehicle, or the installation of equipment in it, to enable a participant to access it and, in some cases, operate it. It can include enabling a participant to:
- get in and out of the vehicle with or without a wheelchair;
- carry their wheelchair in or on the vehicle without lifting;
- be transported safely sitting in their wheelchair; or
- drive the vehicle with specialised controls or other adaptions.
What the NDIA consider
For the NDIA to consider funding vehicle modifications to enable a participant to drive, a participant must have an endorsed license for the vehicle at the time of their request, or be assessed as having the capacity to get an endorsed license by:
- an evaluation by a medical practitioner using the national ‘Assessing Fitness to Drive’ medical standards;
- a driving assessment by a driver trained Occupational Therapist; or
- a driving assessment by the state licensing authority.
The NDIA must be satisfied, amongst other matters, the vehicle modification being considered represents value for money, meaning the costs of the support is reasonable to the benefits achieved and the costs of alternative support (section 34(1)(c)).
In determining whether vehicle modifications represent value for money, the NDIA will specifically consider:
- whether the proposed vehicle modifications are the best alternative for effectively achieving the participant’s driving or transport needs;
- whether the participant’s specific needs can be achieved using a less costly alternative;
- the cost of vehicle modifications compared to the cost of other funded transport supports over the life of the vehicle. For example, modified taxi fares, modified vehicle hire or personal assistance; and
- the suitability of the type of vehicle proposed to be modified in terms of:
- whether the vehicle is of an age, type and mileage, and is cost effective to modify relative to the cost of the modifications, anticipated use and expected longevity of the modified vehicle; and
- whether the vehicle is of a type, which will require the development of a unique engineering solution.
Vehicles aged less than three, under 45,000kms, are generally considered suitable to modify. However, older vehicles and those with higher mileage may still be considered. In these cases, evidence of road worthiness and the expected lifespan of the vehicle must be provided.
Existing vehicle modifications
The NDIA may fund existing modifications on a second-hand vehicle at a rate commensurate with the depreciated value of the modifications.
The NDIA must also be satisfied the provision of the support will be, or is likely to be, effective and beneficial for a participant, having regard to current good practice (section 34(1)(d)).
Therefore, before funding vehicle modifications, the NDIA will also consider the effectiveness of vehicle modifications having consideration to:
- whether the modifications have been prescribed by a suitably qualified occupational therapist and installed by a supplier in line with the relevant standards and state or territory regulations;
- whether the participant owns the vehicle, or in the case of a vehicle owned by a family member, whether the participant has use of the vehicle for their transport needs; and
- whether the participant is able to fund ongoing vehicle running costs, including registration, regular insurance, fuel, repairs and maintenance.
Supports related, or incidental, to vehicle modifications
The NDIA may fund supports related, or incidental, to vehicle modifications.
- driver assessments for the purpose of getting an endorsed license;
- driving lessons where a participant needs lessons to establish the skills to use the modified vehicle, or additional lessons where a participant’s disability results in them taking longer to learn to drive;
- additional insurance costs, where an additional insurance premium is payable as a result of the modifications. Note: the NDIA will only fund the premium's increased amount, not the policy's total cost;
- the cost of engineering certification and other checks for initial registration; and
- the cost of modification removal and reinstallation on a new vehicle when doing so is practicable and represents value for money.
What the NDIA will generally not fund
- the purchase of a motor vehicle;
- regular insurance, registration or running costs;
- non-standard items, for example auto docking where the person or their attendant is able to manually dock;
- driving supervision in order for a participant to accrue hours to pass a driving test; or
- major modifications (over $10,000) to a vehicle where less than eight years has lapsed since the most recent funding of vehicle modifications, unless the participant's circumstances and needs have significantly changed.
Also read the support most appropriately funded or provided through the NDIS, specifically about transport.
It is generally expected vehicle modifications will be suitable for the participant’s anticipated long-term needs. Therefore, it is unlikely further modifications will be funded for the same vehicle, except where there are unforeseen and significant changes to the participant’s needs.
Where a participant purchases a new vehicle, where practicable, minor modifications (less than $10,000) should be re removed from the old vehicle and re-installed in the new vehicle.