Getting married can lead to many changes in your life, including potential changes to your car insurance policy. You may be wondering if you need to add your new spouse to your existing auto insurance policy or not.
While there is no legal requirement that a driver must add their spouse to their car insurance policy, there are some important factors to consider when deciding whether or not to include your spouse on your policy.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover:
- The benefits of adding your spouse to your policy
- When you may be required to add your spouse
- What happens if you don’t add your spouse
- How to save money when combining policies
- What to do if you want to keep separate policies
The Benefits of Adding Your Spouse to Your Policy
There are several potential advantages to having both you and your spouse insured on the same auto policy:
You may qualify for multi-car, multi-driver, and multi-policy discounts. Most insurance companies offer discounts when you insure more than one vehicle or driver on a policy. If you and your spouse both have cars, you could see significant savings.
It’s easier to manage one policy vs two separate policies. Keeping everyone on the same policy means only dealing with one insurance company, one bill, and simplifies the claims process.
Avoid paying to insure the same car twice. In single car households, you don’t want to pay two different premiums to insure the same vehicle.
Peace of mind allowing you to share vehicles easily. With both spouses named on the policy, you can freely drive each other’s cars without worry.
Meet state insurance minimums. Most states require drivers to carry a minimum level of liability coverage. Combining policies helps ensure you both meet legal requirements.
When You May Be Required to Add Your Spouse
While it’s not universally required, some specific circumstances may mandate adding your spouse to your policy:
If you live in a “community property” state. These states – including Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin – require the assets and debts accrued during a marriage to be jointly owned. This means any claims against one spouse can be made against the other as well, so both spouses must be insured.
If your spouse regularly drives one of the vehicles. Insurance companies want to rate policies appropriately based on all regular drivers. Not listing your spouse when they drive a car regularly could be considered misrepresentation.
If your insurance company has specific requirements. Some providers require married couples living together to combine their policies into one policy in the same household. Check your insurer’s specific rules.
If your spouse’s driving record impacts your rate. Even if your spouse doesn’t drive your vehicles, their driving history and record of insurance coverage may be factored into your policy premium. Listing them as a driver makes this allowable.
What Happens If You Don’t Add Your Spouse to Your Policy?
Choosing not to add your spouse to your insurance policy does have some potential drawbacks:
Your spouse won’t have coverage under permissive use. If your spouse borrows your car and gets in an accident, any damages or injuries wouldn’t be covered under your policy since your spouse isn’t listed as a covered driver.
You lose out on available discounts. Not combining policies means you lose access to discounts for multi-car, multi-driver, and multi-policy households.
You could be accused of misrepresenting policy information. If you lie or omit information about your spouse’s access to your vehicles, your policy could be canceled.
Your spouse’s driving record still impacts you. Even if excluded as a driver, their history and licensure status factor into your rates.
You’ll need two policies at two addresses. To exclude your spouse, you may need to use two separate addresses for each policy. This additional hassle may not be worth the small premium savings.
While it is possible to exclude your spouse, doing so limits your coverage protections and discounts. Weigh these drawbacks carefully.
How to Save Money When Combining Policies
The best way to maximize savings when adding your spouse to insurance is to:
Compare quotes from multiple providers – Rates can vary widely between insurers, so shop around for the best deal. Get quotes listing each spouse separately, then together.
Choose higher deductibles – Opting for higher deductibles decreases your premiums but means you pay more out-of-pocket for any claims. Raise deductibles as high as you’re comfortable with.
Drop optional coverage – Evaluate if you really need add-ons like roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, etc. Removing unneeded coverage reduces premiums.
Take advantage of discounts – Get all available discounts like multi-policy, safe driver, good student, defensive driving course completion, etc.
Maintain good credit – Insurers use credit-based insurance scores to set rates. Keeping credit in good shape often lowers premiums.
Ask about group insurance – Alumni associations, employers, and other groups may offer discounted policies you can take advantage of.
What to Do If You Want to Keep Separate Policies
While there are financial incentives to combine auto insurance, some married couples prefer to maintain separate policies. Here are a few tips if you want to keep separate coverage:
Shop for policies as if you’re still single rather than married. Comparing as a single person helps find the lowest individual rate.
Use your pre-marriage name on your policy if you changed your last name. This helps avoid cross-referencing with your spouse’s policy.
Keep vehicles titled and registered solely in each spouse’s name rather than jointly. Joint registration triggers policy combination requirements.
If you move, consider using separate addresses for each policy to avoid household rating. Use your workplace address or a P.O. box.
Exclude your spouse as a driver on your policy. But understand this limits your ability to freely share vehicles.
Weigh if the small premium savings outweigh the coverage exclusions. You lose many benefits keeping separate policies.
Common Questions about Spouses and Car Insurance
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about adding your spouse to auto insurance:
Will my premium increase if I add my spouse to my policy?
Adding your spouse doesn’t automatically raise your premium. It depends on their driving record and risk profile. A spouse with accidents or violations may increase your rate. But a spouse with a clean record can lower your premium with multi-policy discounts.
Can I choose not to add my spouse if they have a poor driving history?
You can exclude your spouse as a driver, but this limits your ability to share vehicles freely. Their poor record still factors into your premium calculation. And you lose out on discounts available by combining policies.
What if my spouse doesn’t have a driver’s license?
Your spouse still needs to be listed on your policy even if they don’t drive. As a licensed member of your household, insurance companies want to rate them appropriately in case they use your vehicle with permission.
What if my spouse and I want to keep separate policies?
While you can maintain separate policies, you lose out on available discounts. And you need to take extra steps like using different addresses and excluding your spouse as a driver. Premium savings may not offset the reduced coverage.
What if my spouse has their own car and insurance policy?
Even if your spouse has their own policy, combining policies under one household can lead to lower premiums overall thanks to multi-car and multi-driver discounts. But shop around to find the most savings.
What if my spouse and I divorce? How does that impact my car insurance?
After a divorce, you’ll want to remove your former spouse from the auto policy as soon as possible. Provide your insurer with a copy of your divorce decree as proof you need to separate the policies from each joint to individual policies.
The Bottom Line
While it’s not absolutely mandatory, there are compelling financial reasons to consider adding your spouse to your car insurance policy when you get married. Combining policies opens up discounts and coverage protections you can’t access with separate policies.
Evaluate your specific situation, driving histories, and insurance provider rules to determine if joining or keeping separate policies makes the most sense. Shop around to find the optimal rate, and remember to update your policy immediately if you divorce down the road. With a little planning, you can ensure both you and your spouse have appropriate, affordable auto insurance coverage.
Do Spouses need to have the same car insurance policy in Arizona?
Does my wife need to be on my car insurance policy?
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