No matter who you are or where you’re from, the topic of financing can be confusing. That’s especially true when it comes to financing specialized products that aren’t well understood by the general public – like wheelchair accessible vehicles!
BraunAbility is the only mobility manufacturer with a dedicated financing team, and collectively those team members share over 100 years of experience guiding consumers through the financing process. We asked Jill Jeroski, head of our BraunAbility Finance team, to answer some of the most common questions about wheelchair van financing.
1. Why are wheelchair accessible vehicles so expensive?
“I just want to add a ramp on my van – not all the bells and whistles.” That’s a statement heard often by the BraunAbility Finance team. Many first-time buyers don’t understand the time and work that goes into making a best-in-class mobility vehicle. At BraunAbility, the conversion process isn’t just adding a ramp – it’s a rebuilding of the original vehicle, top to bottom and bumper to bumper (see the entire process here). Once completed, a BraunAbility vehicle reflects the premiere in safe, reliable and enjoyable mobility independence.
Keep in mind, BraunAbility vehicles come in many shapes, sizes and price points: from rear-entry or side-entry, manual ramps or fully-automatic, brand new or certified pre-owned or even used. All of these options are available through BraunAbility.
“It’s essential to work with your local mobility dealer to find one that fits you and your lifestyle best. Then we’ll find a way to make sure it fits your budget too,” says Jill.
2. Can’t Medicaid or Medicare pay for the vehicle? What about insurance?
While Medicare and Medicaid may cover the cost of your wheelchair or scooter, they do not cover the cost of a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Neither does health insurance. There are some national, state and nonprofit funding sources that can help. Find a full list of those services here.
3. Why don’t you offer free financing?
Because BraunAbility purchases chassis directly from the automotive manufacturer and not a dealership, the same consumer financing incentives you see offered by a Chrysler or Ford dealership, for example, do not carry over to the mobility dealership. Purchasing directly from the manufacturer lowers the MSRP, and BraunAbility Finance then works with major lenders to ensure we can offer competitive terms and low rates.
“And remember – the $0 due at signing and 0% interest claims you hear from automotive dealerships usually come with major strings attached,” says Jill, like requiring you to make your first payment on site instead or becoming ineligible for bonus cash offers.
4. How much of a down payment should I plan on when purchasing my wheelchair accessible vehicle?
The general rule of thumb in the automotive industry is 20% down. Because a converted vehicle typically costs more, Jill recommends paying at least 10% down. “It’s possible to get a vehicle financed with zero down, but putting some money down initially puts the consumer in a better long-term financial position and results in lower monthly payments.”
5. How do I apply for financing as a caregiver of someone else?
You need to have financial power of attorney in order to apply for financing on behalf of someone else (this is separate from medical power of attorney).
And if an individual is unable to physically sign loan documents, there are alternatives. Jill explains, “We offer a letter in our funding packet that allows the individual to either sign with a stamp or an X.”
6. How is BraunAbility Finance different from other financing sources?
Before BraunAbility Finance was formed, there was a general lack of awareness about conversion vehicles in the financing community. And when banks or lenders don’t understand the value or cost of a conversion, customers are often denied a loan.
That’s why BraunAbility Finance was created: to act as a financial advocate for the consumer and help navigate financial pitfalls to ensure they have access to life-changing mobility products.
“Most financing sources are mobility brokers or banks,” says Jill. “BraunAbility is the only mobility manufacturer with a financing department. We know mobility inside and out, and we help navigate the consumer through the process to find the best product to fit their budget.”
7. Does BraunAbility Finance do giveaways?
As the Preferred Mobility Partner of Chive Charities, BraunAbility supplies the organization with mobility vans at a lower cost, allowing Chive Charities to grant more vehicles to recipients and get closer to reaching their goal of making the world 10% happier.
The National Organization for Vehicle Accessibility (NOVA) offers quarterly grants of up to $5000 for mobility products, including BraunAbility wheelchair vans, that are purchased through certified mobility dealers (including the entire BraunAbility dealer network).
8. What kind of credit score do I need to get financing for a wheelchair accessible vehicle?
There is no magic credit score required to obtain financing. As Jill explains, “BraunAbility Finance strives to widen opportunities for those with challenged credit. It’s important to note that your credit score is a small part of the overall credit decision.” Considerations like employment and employment history, total debt owed, income, and dozens of other factors all go into the final decision, she adds.
9. What is GAP insurance? Do I really need it?
Guaranteed Asset Protection insurance (GAP) comes into play when there is a total loss on a vehicle due to fire, theft or an accident. For example, in the event of a total loss, an insurance claims adjuster may say the fair market value of a vehicle is $30,000. If the consumer owes $35,000 on the bank loan, that leaves a gap of $5,000 for the consumer to cover. If the consumer had purchased GAP insurance, it would cover the $5,000 deficit and up to $1000 of the deductible.
“Anyone who is financing a mobility vehicle should consider purchasing GAP insurance,” recommends Jill. For just an additional $5 onto your monthly payment, GAP could be a decision that saves you tens of thousands of dollars.
GAP insurance is available nationwide on any wheelchair accessible vehicle for a term of up to 84 months with the with the exception of New York.
10. What is a Vehicle Service Contract?
A vehicle service contract (VSC) is extended coverage of the warranty of your mobility vehicle’s chassis and conversion. Buying at the time of sale reduces the VSC’s cost and allows it to be included in your total vehicle financing. The length of the contract is up to the consumer, but Jill advises purchasing at the time of sale to avoid any lapse in coverage and matching it to the length of the loan agreement. As far as cost, an 84-month VSC typically costs $22 a month.
A VSC also boosts the trade-in value of your vehicle. “When a consumer has a vehicle service contract, they tend to have maintenance and repairs taken care of in a timely fashion. The overall condition and value of the vehicle increases, allowing for a higher trade-in value,” says Jill. “The VSC is also transferable if sold to a private party.”
If you still have questions about wheelchair van financing, you can learn more here, where you can also directly contact a member of the BraunAbility Finance team.