How Does Car Insurance Work For Married Couples?
When you marry, you may get a joint policy with your spouse. This type of policy acts the way a standard auto policy would, except instead of covering one driver, it covers two. This means adding your spouse to your auto insurance policy helps provide coverage for both parties if there’s an accident.
In general, car insurance for married couples could be less expensive than two separate policies. Many married couples combine to insure their vehicles with a single policy to help reduce their total insurance costs.
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Do Married Couples Have to Combine Car Insurance Policies?
Couples often bring two cars into a single household after getting married, making them eligible for multi-vehicle discounts and other potential benefits that can reduce their auto insurance premiums. If spouses purchase a car together, they may be required to also purchase auto insurance with both parties listed as drivers of the vehicle.
In fact, many insurers require married people to add their spouse to a car insurance policy if both parties live at the same address. However, some states and insurers give married people the option to exclude their spouse from an auto insurance policy, which could be preferable if they have a poor driving record or if their primary car is significantly more expensive.
But whether it is mandatory or not, combining car insurance coverage into a single joint policy can help you and your spouse streamline your insurance needs and save on overall costs.
Benefits of Combining Car Insurance After Marriage
In general, if your cars, driving record, and credit scores are comparable, you would likely see some cost savings in opting for a joint policy after getting married. Benefits of combining coverage include:
- Married couples generally receive lower rates. Each insurer uses proprietary algorithms to calculate the risk that an insured individual may be involved in an accident. People who pose a lower risk typically pay lower car insurance rates. Some insurance companies consider married people to be a lower risk because they may be more cautious and financially stable than their single counterparts, resulting in safer driving habits.
- You can be eligible for multi-car discount savings. If you and your spouse are bringing your own respective vehicles into the household, you could take advantage of a multi-car discount by insuring all of your vehicles under a single joint policy. Check if your insurer offers this discount, and if not, consider working with a trusted agent to find an insurer that does offer it.
- You can be eligible for multi-policy discount savings. Married couples may be eligible for bundling discounts if they combine renters or homeowners insurance with their auto insurance too. As you are likely to live together, this could be a simple way to stack another discount onto your policy.
- You can still adjust coverages to fit your needs. While auto insurance companies typically require all vehicles to have the same amount of liability and underinsured and/or uninsured motorist coverage, you can choose different coverage types depending on the car you are insuring. For example, if your car is a newer leased SUV and your spouse drives an older vehicle that they own outright, you could purchase full coverage insurance for the SUV and get liability-only coverage for the older vehicle with a multi-car policy and still enjoy discounts on your premiums.
- Joint policies help streamline coverage. Combining your separate policies into one can simplify the insurance process, as you would both use the same insurer and know all of the coverage details. This would also allow you both to pay a single premium instead of separate ones.
- Marriage is a natural time to shop around for a better rate. When you look to combine policies, it is a natural time to shop around and compare quotes to ensure you both get the best policy possible for your needs. You may choose to switch to a different insurance company that offers better coverage options or rates, which can result in lower rates than paying for individual policies.
How a Joint Policy For Married Couples Works
Having a joint policy to cover you and your spouse is similar to having separate policies in most aspects, except that all coverages and limits extends to both drivers, though coverages can still be different for each insured vehicle. For example, any coverage type you have on your policy would apply to you and your spouse, but you can still designate a specific vehicle to have collision coverage and the other to go without it. You would also still have to pay the deductible out of pocket for claims before your insurance steps in to help cover costs up to the policy’s limits.
However, a joint policy allows for you and your spouse to pay a single premium and get the same coverage for both drivers on any shared vehicles. Consolidating coverage into one joint policy can make filing claims easier and also prevent overpaying for overlapping coverages, especially if you share vehicles and have comparable driving records.
Can Same-sex Married Couples Combine Car Insurance Policies?
Same-sex married couples can combine their car insurance policies and have a joint policy. Even if the state where you live opposes same-sex marriage, the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case ruled that same-sex marriages must be recognized in every state. This means that same-sex married couples must receive all of the rights that come with marriage, including insurance rights. Insurers cannot refuse to offer joint policies to married couples based on their sexual orientation.
Can Significant Others, Domestic Partnerships, and Civil Unions Combine Car Insurance Policies?
Even if you are not legally married, you can combine car insurance policies if you share a household with your significant other, domestic partner, or a person with whom you share a civil union. While state laws about different partnership types vary, insurers typically consider a household to include every driver who lives at the address as part of a family unit.
What to Consider When Planning On a Joint Policy
Before combining policies, ensure that you are both on the same page for policy details like coverage needs and preferred insurers. You will also want to consider your respective driving records and vehicles, as these factors can impact your overall joint policy costs.
When looking to add your spouse to your policy or having your spouse add you to theirs, look into each policy’s details to see which one would offer the most favorable combination of lower premiums, lower deductibles, and higher policy limits. In addition, think through whether there are optional coverages you want to add.
Coverages to Consider
Coverages would protect all drivers on the policy. However, you may be able to still pick and choose which cars receive additional optional coverages. For example, if you and your spouse both drive a newer car and an older one, you may want collision coverage on the newer vehicle but opt to skip it on the older one. Common auto insurance coverage types you may want to consider adding to your joint policy include:
- Liability coverage: Liability coverage is required in most states and covers any driver on the policy, no matter which car they are driving at the time of the accident. It helps cover injuries and property damage you cause to other people up to the policy’s limits. Make sure that your joint policy meets your state’s minimums for coverage.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: This coverage helps pay for damages and injuries you or your spouse sustain if either of you are involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver or driver with insufficient insurance coverage. In some states, this coverage is mandatory.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): This coverage is often called “no-fault” insurance because it helps pay for medical expenses and lost wages if you or your spouse — along with any passengers in your car — are injured in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. In some states, this coverage is mandatory.
- Collision coverage: This coverage helps you pay for repairs to your own vehicle if you or your spouse are in a collision, regardless of who is at fault. It also covers collisions with objects and single-driver collisions, such as if either of you hit a tree or roll the vehicle.
- Comprehensive coverage: This coverages helps you pay for repairs if your vehicle is damaged in a non-collision event, like if it is stolen, vandalized, or hit by a falling object. It also covers vehicle damage caused by weather events like hail. Comprehensive coverage also pays for repairs if you or your spouse hit an animal, like a deer.
Another important consideration before combining policies is to ensure that you understand the potential cost impacts of sharing a policy.
- Vehicle: If you and your spouse both drive the same vehicle or vehicles of comparable value, your premium would not be adversely affected. However, if one of you drives a vehicle that is significantly more valuable — such as a high-performance luxury car — it could drive up your joint policy’s premium to insure that car together.
- Driving record: Likewise, if you and your spouse both have comparable driving records, your premium on the joint policy would not be adversely affected. But if one of you has more traffic violations than the other, or has a major driving infraction on your record such as a DUI conviction, this could lead to a spike in cost for a joint policy that covers both the higher risk and lower risk driver.
- Credit history and score: Insurers can use credit history as a factor in setting premiums, so if you and your spouse are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to credit score and credit history, this could lead to higher premiums for both of you with a joint policy. However, some states have barred insurance companies from using credit scores as a factor in setting insurance rates.
When You Should Not Consider a Joint Car Insurance Policy
While combining auto policies would be beneficial for many married couples, it is not always the case. Consider keeping separate policies if:
- You or your spouse has a poor driving record. If you or your spouse has a poor driving record, that could drive up the premium of your combined policy, making it less affordable than if you had separate ones.
- You or your spouse cause an insurer to deny coverage. In some cases, one spouse’s driving record could cause an insurer to refuse issuing a joint policy altogether. Accidents, DUI charges, and multiple moving violations can cause some insurers to mandate that the riskier driver be explicitly excluded from the auto policy. There’s no insurance coverage for an accident-related claim if the excluded driver is involved in an accident while driving the insured vehicle.
- You have significantly different coverage needs. If one spouse has significantly different coverage needs than the other, combining policies may not be the best option. For example, if your spouse drives a high-value sports car, they may require additional coverage that the you do not need for your standard sedan. While a multi-vehicle policy allows different coverages for different vehicles on the same policy, the increased cost could still be more than insuring your vehicles separately.
- You or your spouse drives a car that requires specialized coverage. If you or your spouse drives a vehicle that is considered a supercar, an exotic car, or a classic car, you may need a policy issued by an insurer that specializes in coverage for certain vehicle types. In this case, it may not be possible to combine policies.
However, even if you decide to not have a joint policy with your spouse, notifying your insurer to update your marital status may still result in a premium decrease. As mentioned before, some insurers see married couples as more cautious drivers because they tend to have shared vehicles and be more financially stable. This could help lower your auto rate even if your spouse does not join your policy.
How To Combine Car Insurance After Marriage
Combining car insurance after marriage into a single joint policy typically follows these steps:
- Gather all the necessary documents and information.
- Compare quotes from your current insurance companies and new companies.
- Select and purchase the best policy.
- Pay your premium and receive confirmation of coverage.
But before taking the first step, remember to speak with your spouse to determine how much coverage you want on each vehicle. You must purchase at least the minimum amount of liability coverage required by your state. Depending on where you live, you may be required to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments insurance (MedPay), as well.
1. Gather all the necessary documents and information.
Be ready to provide you and your spouse’s full legal names, driver’s license numbers, and information about your vehicles, including the vehicle identification number (VIN), year, make, model, and mileage.
Insurers may also ask questions about whether you and your spouse would use the vehicles for business purposes, whether the car is leased or financed, how many miles you both drive each year, and whether the car is typically parked in a garage. Having all of this information ready will make shopping around and getting quotes much smoother.
2. Compare quotes from your current insurance companies and new companies.
Contact your respective insurance companies to get quotes on how they would handle combining policies. Take note of your different coverages, deductibles, limits, and premiums so you can compare it with other options later.
Because insurers set their own rates, be sure to shop around and get at least three quotes to compare. Either do your own research or work with a trusted agent to help you find other insurance companies and get quotes and other information so you can better gauge which option would provide you with the best coverage at an affordable price.
3. Select and purchase the best policy.
Look over each policy’s details to judge which ones are the best final options. Then consider the insurance company’s overall reputation for customer care and satisfaction before making your final decision. Once you have both agreed on an insurer and plan, formally apply and purchase your coverage.
4. Pay your premium and receive confirmation of coverage.
Your coverage will likely immediately begin once you make your first premium payment. After that, you and your spouse should have immediate access to proof of coverage, such as through an online app. Your insurer may also mail formal insurance paperwork to you and your spouse, including physical insurance cards to keep in your vehicles.
What to Do If You Decide to Keep Separate Policies
If after shopping around you ultimately decide to keep your car insurance policies separate, you and your spouse will need to let your respective insurers know that you are married and sharing a household with another driver.
If you must exclude your spouse from coverage, speak with your insurer to understand how your insurance coverage works. Keep in mind that even with separate policies, you may be eligible for multi-policy discounts if you add renters insurance or homeowners insurance to one of the auto insurance policies.
Other Discounts to Look For In Your Joint Policy
In addition to multi-vehicle and multi-policy discounts when you combine auto insurance coverage with your spouse, there may be other discounts that could further add to your collective savings.
- Defensive driving course discount: Some insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who complete a defensive driving course. This discount may be available to both spouses if you complete the course together.
- Safe driving discount: Insurance companies may offer safe driving discounts to drivers who maintain a clean driving record for a certain period of time. If you and your spouse are both safe drivers, the discount could apply to you both.
- Loyalty discount: Insurance companies may offer discounts to customers who have been with them for a certain period of time. If you add your spouse to your policy or vice versa and you have been a customer with that insurer for a long time, you may both save from a loyalty discount on the joint policy.
- Occupation discount: Some insurance companies offer discounts to those who work in specific occupations, such as teachers or healthcare professionals. If you or your spouse work in an eligible occupation, you could share in the savings with a joint policy.
What This Means For You and Your Spouse
Getting a joint auto insurance policy with your spouse can help you save money on your insurance premiums because many insurance companies consider married couples to be safer drivers in general. Having a joint policy can also make it easier to keep track of your insurance payments and coverage details, as well as streamline the claims process. Sharing a policy ultimately means you and your spouse can have a unified approach to selecting coverage options and making important decisions regarding your auto insurance needs.