A Closer Look at BMW’s Mobility Program

Mobility programs enable individuals who need mobility modifications to obtain a vehicle and maintain a sense of independence. These programs vary in complexity and accessibility, depending on the company and the program itself, but they all have one thing in common — they strive to provide individuals with vehicles that suit their particular mobility needs. 

BMW’s mobility program is no exception. What is BMW seeking to achieve with their mobility program and what terms need to be met to participate in this program?

What Defines a Mobility Program?

Mobility programs are a program offered by automotive manufacturers to offer a one-time reimbursement for the costs of installing adaptive equipment into a newly purchased vehicle. 

This isn’t part of the cost of the vehicle, or something that is provided before the adaptive equipment gets installed. Instead, eligible individuals can apply for reimbursement once the installation is complete. 

The benefits offered depend on the manufacturer. Most offer up to $1,000 for the installation of various types of adaptive equipment. 

Some, like Ford, also offer up to $200 for alerting devices. Others, like the General Motors Group which includes Cadillac, GMC, Buick and Chevrolet, offer $1,000 for adaptive equipment but also offer up to two years of their OnStar safety programs as an additional incentive. BMW offers one of the best mobility packages in the industry, providing up to $2,500 for equipment installed in one of their new or certified pre owned vehicles.

What Defines Adaptive Equipment?

How do mobility programs define adaptive equipment? The exact details may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but in general, they must meet three criteria:

  • The equipment must be permanently installed in the vehicle.
  • The equipment is for a driver or passenger with a permanent disability.
  • The equipment is bought from a licensed equipment installer, and installed by the same. 

Beyond that, anything from driving controls and power seats to ramps and lifts can all fall under the umbrella of adaptive equipment. All modifications must also be approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), and an approval letter from the administration is necessary if any modifications require disconnecting the vehicle’s airbags.

This is by no means an all inclusive list. The potential for different types of adaptive equipment is changing every single year, as new options and new tools become available. The most important thing to remember is to work with licensed installers and to ensure that everything is NHTSA approved before applying for mobility programs. 

Mobility Program Terms

The terms of a mobility program will depend on the manufacturer, but in general you need:

  • A vehicle purchased from the dealership or certified reseller within the specified time frame. This could be anywhere from 60 days to one year. 
  • A valid driver’s license or a doctor’s note. The vehicle has to be registered to the individual requiring mobility assistance. 
  • A detailed invoice for the equipment installation. 

The exact details will vary depending on the manufacturer you choose as well as the terms of their mobility programs. It is important to note that before you qualify for reimbursement through a mobility program, the cost of installation will be out of pocket. 

Currently, no health insurance programs, including Medicaid and Medicare, cover the cost of a wheelchair van or other adaptive equipment. These programs may make it easier to obtain other medical equipment including wheelchairs. 

Mobility programs help to fill in the gap between the two, allowing as many people as possible to access the mobility aids that they need to live an independent lifestyle. 

There are other assistance programs available as well. Some states offer mobility assistance or grant programs outside what automotive manufacturers do. Veterans may also qualify for rebates to make it easier to obtain mobility assisting equipment. If all else fails, auto loans are also an option, depending on your credit and income. 

Looking Forward

Nearly every automotive manufacturer offers some form of mobility assistance program for individuals who purchased new vehicles from dealerships or certified pre-owned vehicles from licensed resellers. If mobility programs aren’t available, obtaining an adaptive vehicle isn’t necessarily out of the question — it just takes exploring other avenues. 

If you need to apply for a mobility program, make sure you talk to your dealership or certified reseller before you complete your purchase and determine what the exact terms for your particular manufacturer might be. Don’t rely on insurance to help you out with this purchase either. While it may help you get other mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, currently no health insurance programs cover part or all of the cost of a wheelchair van or other accessible equipment.