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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Getting married comes with a lot of changes, not only to your daily life but also with your legal paperwork. From potential name changes to changing your tax filings and withholdings, life insurance beneficiaries and health insurance policies, marriage can mean a lot of dealings with government officials and major corporations.
One additional area where this comes into play is car insurance. In most cases, your spouse is required to be added to your auto insurance policies. While requirements vary from state to state, most major national insurance companies have their own rules that all members of the household with a driver’s license must, at a minimum, be listed as a driver on the policy.
This is because the other people in your home will ordinarily be able to access the same vehicles and could be expected to drive the covered cars frequently or regularly.
You can shop online including both you and your wife when searching in order to find the best deal on car insurance. Online comparison tools will help you to make sure that your whole family is receiving the best possible coverage and the right value.
Learn more about car insurance below and make sure to use our free insurance comparison tool above!
Your State Laws Can Impact Your Policy
Each state has different laws relating to car insurance governing the requirement to add members of the household to a car insurance policy. You may be required by law to add your wife to your policy, but in most states, this is governed by the conditions of your auto insurer rather than state law.
You can compare options available for car insurance for you and your wife by searching online. Comparison tools can let you look at the coverage types and premiums in order to select the auto insurance that is the best choice for you and your family.
What changes when I add my wife to my policy?
When your spouse is a co-owner of the policy, their credit, and other records are fully ranked in calculating the premium because they are equal owners of the policy with you. In this case, your wife can make payments, log into your insurance account, file a claim, change the coverage and otherwise have full control over the policy.
Your wife could also take the car in for repairs covered under the policy. If you just list your wife as a driver, the costs of your insurance may change based on her driving record. Issues like credit, however, would be unlikely to be considered as she would not be directly insured by the company.
However, a listed driver can’t make changes to the policy, manage the account or receive the insurance benefits directly. You’d remain responsible and in charge of those aspects of your insurance policy.
You can take a look at the different types of insurance policies available online by using comparison tools. Make sure you’re getting the best value possible for the type of coverage you need to protect your auto.
Drivers can save $859/yr* by comparing car insurance
*based on a survey of 1,000 car insurance customers
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How will marriage change my car insurance premiums?
Marriage can impact your premiums differently depending on your driving history, credit scores or other factors. If both partners have good driving records and, in some states, good credit records, marriage can have a significant positive impact on your insurance rates.
You can save quite a lot by combining your policies in these cases. In some cases, each person could save up to 25 or 30 percent off of their individual rates by combining policies.
As a general principle, drivers who are married are considered to be a better risk than those who are not married. While this may seem unlikely, there are studies to back up the insurance companies’ belief.
If each spouse has a car on their own policy, putting both on the same could lead to savings with a multi-car policy. You can compare multi-car policies online to see how bringing both cars under one policy could impact your rates.
However, you can also keep separate policies for any number of reasons, while simply listing your spouse as a driver. This could still have an impact on your premium in the case of your spouse having a bad driving record.
How can I exclude my spouse from the policy?
When one partner’s driving record is bad, the total price of car insurance will go up. This means that it could make sense to exclude your spouse specifically from your policy.
In this case, if you exclude your spouse and they do drive your car and have an accident, you won’t be covered for the damages and you could face the cancellation of your policy. This is the case even if your spouse drives only in an emergency situation.
What if I don’t tell the insurance company about my spouse?
Depending on the state, if you don’t inform the insurance company about all of the drivers in your home, your policy could be canceled due to misrepresentation.
Misrepresentation, in this case, would mean not informing the insurer of relevant information that would allow them to accurately assess the risk and price the insurance policy. In some cases, this is considered a form of insurance fraud.
If your spouse drives your car before being added to their policy and has an accident, in some cases the accident may not be covered. In other cases, the insurer would cover damages from the accident but also make you pay back the premium difference from the time your spouse became a member of the household.
Keeping Separate Insurance Policies
If your wife has bad credit, depending on your state, this could impact your insurance rates. Credit may not impact your policy if you add her as a driver, but may well cause your premiums to spike if you add her as a joint insured on the policy. In this case, both of your credit scores would be averaged together when pricing a combined policy. In case of a significant disparity, it could be a good idea to keep them separate.
In some states, insurance companies use your credit score as a part of the metrics they use to determine your premium. Other factors include the type of car you drive and, most importantly, your driving history.
Similarly, if your spouse has a bad driving history or a lot of accidents, combining your policies could cause your premiums to increase significantly.
If your spouse has serious driving convictions like a DUI, your insurer may not be willing to issue a policy for the both of you. Drivers with serious convictions or past DUI records often need to buy special high-risk insurance at high rates.
It’s not always something so serious, however. Cars of widely different values or wide disparities in amounts of miles traveled may also be good reasons to keep policies separate. This can also be a good idea when one partner’s car is also part of a business activity.
In this case, it’s probably also best to keep the policies separate. You can compare the options available to you by using online comparison tools to examine the coverage types and policy premiums from various auto insurers.