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Adding a spouse to car insurance coverage

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Marriage is a significant change in lifestyle for many of us. Along with changes in lifestyle come financial changes as well. One of those changes is getting on the same car insurance policy.

Insurance companies handle married couples differently than they do single people. There are advantages and potential drawbacks when the insurance provider changes your marital status from single to married.

After the wedding, you may not think to notify your auto insurer, but it’s almost always a requirement to alert the insurance provider after getting married. Failing to do so could lead to problems with coverage.

Do I have to add my spouse to my car insurance?

Almost all insurance companies require adding your spouse to your car insurance policy, and there’s a good reason for this. It affects the risk the insurer takes on when insuring you. 

Most auto insurance providers require everyone who lives with you to be listed as a driver on your policy. Insurers assume anyone living in the same home will borrow your car at some point.

When you get married, you’ll likely be living in the same place, and auto insurers want to ensure they account for the risk of other drivers in your home. 

Are there exclusions to the rule that you have to add your spouse?

Many auto insurers allow their policyholders to exclude drivers from their policy. If a driver is excluded in a policy, it means they have no protection under the insurance. If an excluded driver gets in an accident driving a car insured under the policy, the provider will deny any claims associated with the accident.

Excluding a spouse from car insurance isn’t easy. You’ll probably need to call your provider and explain why your spouse shouldn’t be included on the policy.

One way to get around this is if your spouse doesn’t drive. If your spouse doesn’t have a driver’s license, it will probably be easier to convince the insurer that your spouse should be excluded in the policy.

Can married couples have separate car insurance? Maybe. If your spouse lives separately from you, the insurer may also agree to leave them off the policy.

Benefits of adding your spouse to your car insurance

Including your spouse on your car insurance is usually required, but it can also help to reduce the cost of insurance.

Here are a few advantages marriage brings to policyholders:

  • Marriage reduces insurance premiums: Insurance providers generally view married couples as safer to insure than single people. When your marital status changes, the insurer may assign a lower rate on your premium to adjust for the assessed lower risk.
  • Multiple cars discount: Most providers discount auto insurance when a new car is added to the policy. After you get married, adding your spouse and their car to your policy will probably reduce the rate of coverage for both vehicles.
  • Spouse’s insurance is better: Auto insurance policies are as varied as the providers that offer them. When you get married, it’s a good idea to compare both of your auto insurance policies to see if one provides a better discount for adding a new driver and vehicle.

When you get married, these factors can help reduce your premiums and make sure you have the best policy for you as a couple.

Disadvantages of adding your spouse to your car insurance

Unfortunately, there can be financial disadvantages to including a spouse on an auto insurance policy, but knowing what these drawbacks are can help. Even if you can’t avoid them, you can plan for them.

Here are a few of the common drawbacks that might come up:

  • Spouse has a spotty driving history: Auto insurance companies take personal driving history seriously when assessing risk on a policy. If your spouse has a rough history on the road, it could cause the policy’s premium to rise. In some extreme cases, insurers may refuse to insure the spouse under your policy altogether.
  • Spouse has poor credit: There are many factors that affect insurance costs, and credit history can be one of them. Many insurers consider poor personal credit as an indication that the policyholder is a higher risk. If your spouse has experienced credit problems in the past, then it may increase the insurance premium.

In both of these circumstances, the cost of insurance will probably be higher. That cost may be offset by the discount of including more than one car under a single policy. Even if the discount doesn’t help, you must alert your insurance provider that you’re now married. 

What happens if you don’t add your spouse to your insurance

Insurance providers generally require their policyholders to notify them after the policyholders marital status changes. Insurers want to account for anyone who lives with you, and the provider will ask you to list housemates as occasional drivers in the policy. 

If you don’t add your spouse to your auto insurance and they get into an accident in your car, the best case scenario is that the insurer will deny the claim and you will be left to cover the expense yourself.

However, failing to add your spouse to the policy could be considered misrepresentation, a type of insurance fraud. If your insurance company charges you with misrepresentation, you could be dropped from the policy, and the insurer could even take legal action against you.

Once you get dropped from an insurance policy, it may be more difficult to find another one. And when you do, it will probably be more expensive. 

The takeaway

  • Most auto insurance providers require that you tell them who lives with you.
  • If your spouse has a driver’s license, they should be listed on your policy.
  • Failing to add your spouse to your auto insurance could result in denied claims or worse.

Getting married means big life changes, and one of those changes is auto insurance. After marriage, call your auto insurance provider and tell them so they can adjust your insurance accordingly.

If you don’t tell your auto insurer that you’re married, you are probably violating your agreement. In response, the insurer might drop you from the insurance policy or even take legal action against you. The best practice is to call your insurer, tell them you’re now married and see what the insurance company recommends.

Julian Dossett

Julian is a freelance writer for Coverage.com, where he writes about auto and home insurance with an eye toward consumer advocacy. His work has appeared at The Simple Dollar, Bankrate, Reviews.com, Blockchain Beach and MSN.com. He’s currently based in New Mexico.

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