How to Rent a Wheelchair Accessible Van

There can be several reasons you may need to rent a wheelchair-accessible van (WAV), and several other reasons that you have not thought of that can make trips more appealing and available. Many people worry about the cost of renting a wheelchair-accessible van and think that excursions far from home just aren’t an option. However, it may be more affordable and easier than you think.

To rent a wheelchair accessible van, you will need to contact a rental agency that has an inventory of wheelchair accessible vehicles. To ensure a smooth trip, it is also advised to:

  • Make reservations far in advance
  • Check their actual inventory for a vehicle that fits your needs first
  • Consult local hotels and event centers to see if they provide ADA transportation themselves

Whatever your needs may be, this article lays out the roadmap to help you successfully navigate how to rent a wheelchair-accessible van. Read on to learn essential tips and steps and what to expect as far as the cost of renting a wheelchair-accessible van.

Make Plans in Advance

Whenever possible, try to plan out your trip as early as possible (at least 6-12 months out). This may be more difficult with medical appointments; however, you should begin making arrangements as soon as an appointment is scheduled. The reason for this is due to all of the other travel details that may need to be arranged. The availability of mobility equipment is also a significant factor.

A few details that may need to be reserved or arranged beforehand include:

  • Airline travel
  • Lodging to fit your needs
  • Proper insurance for renting a wheelchair accessible van
  • Budgeting for extras
  • Finding deals on what you need

Airline Travel

You may be thinking budget here, but you may also need to consider transportation to, from, and within the airport in addition to the cost of airline tickets. This may be another instance where you need to rent a WAV or find a service that provides accessible transportation. You may also need to make arrangements ahead of time for assistance when inside the airport.

Passengers requiring mobility assistance are a regular occurrence for airports, and they have many types of equipment available to assist in getting you or a loved one around the airport. This can be especially important if there is a connection between flights to be made. 

For more information about disability travel and airline requirements visit the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Lodging to Fit your Needs

Unfortunately, hotels and resorts only have a limited number of rooms that are ADA compliant. Therefore, it is important to make any necessary lodging reservations far in advance to ensure your accommodations fit your needs for mobility as well as location.

Proper Insurance for Renting a Wheelchair Accessible Van

As you will see later, most of the large rental car companies don’t have WAVs available. This has created a need for specialty rental companies. Most rental companies that specialize in wheelchair-accessible van rentals require the driver to carry full-coverage insurance. Be sure to check with your carrier when making your plans.

Budgeting for Extras

When planning a trip out of necessity or fun, we usually remember to plan for big expenses. However, small items such as taxes, fees, and tipping can add up quickly too. So don’t forget to include these items into your budget to avoid getting an unfortunate surprise to your wallet.

Finding Deals on What you Need

Again, here is where planning early can help. When you plan early, you have more time to find discounts and coupons on the things you need. Reserve the major items early and keep an eye out for deals on something you need as your trip gets closer. You can often get deals by bundling services together with the same company.

Of course, these items are all in addition to renting a wheelchair-accessible van.

Check the Accessibility of Events and Excursions

Perhaps you are looking into planning a family trip, and one of your loved ones requires a WAV to get out and join in on adventures. Besides the above-listed details, you will want to check that the events on your itinerary will be able to be enjoyed by everyone on the trip.

For larger, more iconic sites such as national parks and theme parks, it is relatively easy to get an idea of their on-site accessibility. Simply type the name of the place and “ADA accessibility.” This will often lead you right to the page that answers your question about wheelchair accessibility. Searching using “{name of place} ADA accessibility” is usually faster than searching through the website pages or FAQs.

The method mentioned above may work for many smaller companies as well. However, you may have to call the location directly to get specific information, especially if it covers a large area or has multiple buildings. This is also a helpful technique if the location is a major part of the trip or cannot be modified, such as attending a wedding.

It’s important to remember that the purpose of, size, and many other criteria determine the level of ADA compliance that a business needs to meet. These and many other factors can affect the level of wheelchair accessibility of any given establishment. Having a backup plan to ensure access may also be helpful.

Company Search

As mentioned earlier, many of the more prominent and well-known rental car companies don’t offer WAV rentals. The ones that do usually have limited options that may not fully meet your needs.

If you aren’t finding what you need from a large company, you may find yourself looking at many local options. This can seem overwhelming as so much of the success of your trip depends on reliable and accommodating vehicle access and use.

Here we will narrow down how to find a wheelchair-accessible van rental company. This includes:

  • Doing your homework
  • Checking their inventory against your needs

While these steps may seem simple, they can save you from many headaches throughout your trip.

Doing Your Homework on a Wheelchair Accessible Van Rental Company

Just picking the company at the top of the search results doesn’t exactly qualify checking this part of your trip planning to-do list. Instead, you want to feel confident in your choice and know that you picked a company that will take care of your needs.

It may be tempting to head straight to the pricing page or fill out a form for a quote. However, we suggest reading a few testimonials first. We all lead fast-paced lives and have so many tasks to accomplish, making reading reviews that much more critical. If someone took the time to write a review, they really felt driven to share their experience, whether good or bad. 

After reading some reviews, it can also be helpful to check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Companies who hold an accreditation from the BBB must maintain generally positive experiences for customers. Any serious complaints about the company will be listed as well as how the complaint was handled. 

Does their inventory meet your needs?

Some other items to consider are regarding the operation and loading options offered with a wheelchair-accessible van rental. 

  • Sideload wheelchair-accessible vehicles. This option can often allow the operator to use their wheelchair or sit in the front passenger seat. However, this style usually limits the type of parking spaces available due to the clearance needed to enter from the side.
  • Rear load wheelchair-accessible vehicles. One advantage to this style of vehicle is having more parking availability. In addition, since entry is from the back, you don’t have to be concerned with getting a wheelchair in between yours and another person’s vehicle. However, this option usually decreases the seating capacity.
  • Seating Capacity. It’s important to note that the entry style you choose (side or rear) will also impact the total seating capacity of the van. If you have a large group, you may need to consider supplemental transportation. 
  • Manual or power lifts and doors. Another critical item to consider is how the doors and lifts or ramps operate. You may plan to get assistance from the people you travel with, but it is always good to know how much manual work is needed to operate the vehicle you rent.
  • Check Dimensions to accommodate your mobility equipment. You may need to contact the company directly to get specific dimensions to make sure your mobility equipment will be able to move in and out of the vehicle quickly. These options can also affect the price of your rental as well as the need of adaptive control equipment.
  • Driver responsibilities. This is also a good time to ask about insurance coverage and any other requirements that need to be met by the driver.

It is important to note that while many of the large car rental companies don’t offer direct access to wheelchair-accessible vans, they may be able to recommend a company to use. Even with a recommendation, be sure to do your homework and check them out on your own.

When You Need a WAV

You may find yourself needing a WAV temporarily or long-term, depending on your unique situation. For example, renting a wheelchair-accessible van allows greater mobility options for you or a loved one. Some reasons to consider renting a WAV include:

  • Needing temporary transportation during rehabilitation
  • Temporary replacement when your WAV is being repaired
  • Test drives of mobility vehicles to find the right fit
  • Road trips, special events, or medical appointments
  • Providing transportation for a visiting friend or relative that may be staying with you

How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Wheelchair Accessible Van?

The cost of renting any vehicle, including a WAV, depends on many aspects. These can include where the rental originates, how many miles it will be used for, the driver’s age, and the type of equipment you need for mobility. Understanding how these different factors contribute to the price you pay to rent can help you shop for your best option.

Does Mileage Affect Car Rental Price?

This is an important detail to pay attention to and one that fits into the budgeting tip from earlier. Some rental car contracts offer unlimited mileage. However, some have a mileage cap. When reviewing rental companies for a wheelchair-accessible van, make sure to check if mileage is included. 

The rental contract should clearly state whether the mileage is included under an “unlimited mileage” plan and will have no effect on the rental cost. Otherwise, there may be a “mileage cap” plan. With this second type of contract, charges are added on to your final invoice after the odometer is recorded at the end of your rental. So don’t be caught off guard, be sure you know what your rental covers.

Age of Driver and their Driving Record

Vehicles are an expensive asset to own, and car rental companies try to protect their property by implementing diligent policies to guard against unnecessary risks. One way they do this is by having policies as to the type of driver they will rent to. Usually, a driver who is 25 or under may either be charged a higher rate or not be allowed to rent at all. 

Another aspect to consider is your driving record. Many rental companies complete a check of your driving record after you make the reservation or just before you leave with the rental. Recent violations may cause your rental to be canceled, so be sure to confirm your reservation is in good standing with the company if you have had any severe or recent incidents reported.

Book Early and Save Money

Again, planning early works to your advantage here. Not only will you have more options to choose from, when you book, your reservation can also raise or lower your price. Therefore, making your reservation at least 3 months in advance is highly recommended. If you have to make a reservation within a day or two, you are almost guaranteed to pay an extra fee and can miss out on the optimal inventory for your needs.

Vehicle Type and Accessories

Here is where we often get a lesson in elementary social studies, needs vs. wants. For example, you may need a wheelchair-accessible rental, but do you need power options, or can you do without?

Fancier models with lots of power options are going to cost more money. This is part of the budgeting we mentioned earlier as well as considering who you will be traveling with. If you are traveling alone, you may need power options for doors and lifts. However, you may be in a position to get assistance with those aspects and can choose a more budget friendly option. 

It really comes down to what you need and what is available from the company.

Insurance Cost

Since many large companies have left it up to specialty companies to supply wheelchair-accessible van rentals, their operations have some differences as well. While most national car rental companies offer you insurance as an add-on or part of the package, smaller or local companies that rent WAV usually require you to provide your own insurance coverage.

Remember to add this into your budget for your trip. Even though you may not see this as a line item on your rental invoice, you may have an increase to your personal insurance coverage if you need to make any changes to your policy. This is true even if it is only for one billing cycle in order to cover the time you will be using the rental.

Average Cost to Rent a Wheelchair Accessible Van

Considering the many factors that can determine the cost to rent a wheelchair accessible van, you can begin budgeting and planning for your trip using the following as a guide:

DailyAround $130 / day
WeeklyFrom $100/ day – $120/ day (on average)

Remember, many factors are going to come into play to determine the actual rate you will pay at the time you book. Also, these rates don’t include added taxes and fees determined by where and with what company you book with.

Will Health Insurance Pay for a Wheelchair Van Rental?

Many insurance plans often cover the cost (or part of the cost) of a wheelchair. However, health insurance providers usually do not cover the cost of a wheelchair-accessible van rental or purchase. This is because these items are not deemed as “medically necessary” and therefore usually forgo coverage qualification.

With that being said, it’s worth a call to your provider to see if your specific plan does include any type of coverage. You may be able to qualify if you haven’t updated your information recently or have new circumstances that allow you to qualify.

Wheelchair Accessible Van Rentals Make the World More Available

Whether for a couple of days or a month, renting a WAV can significantly increase resource availability, events, and travel opportunities for people who need mobility assistance. With a bit of prep work, you can be confident that you have made the necessary arrangements to make your next trip considerably easier and enjoyable for everyone involved. 

On average, a wheelchair-accessible van rental costs about the same or less than a passenger SUV rental. However, the ability to get where you’re going while having your mobility needs met is worth much more.

Content disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this Blog article are not intended to amount to advice, and you should not rely on any of the contents of this Blog article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this Blog article. OccupationaltherapyBlog disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this Blog article. 

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I'm a Neurological Occupational Therapist and Founder of HT Neuro Rehab an Holistic & Person-Centred Adult Rehabilitation in London. I"m fully registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT). I have founded HT Neuro Rehab to provide clinical Occupational Therapy services to adults with neurological conditions, brain injuries, major trauma, upper limb retraining and rehabilitation, Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness (PDoC) and Functional Neurological Disorders (FND). My practice provides support, training, and guidance to both the patient and their families and caregivers. My goal is to enable each patient to achieve their personal ability, mobility, and independence goals while cultivating a long-term support network that is capable and prepared to engage in the rehabilitation journey.

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