Can Married Couples Have Separate Auto Insurance?

Marriage involves combining a lot of finances. Houses and apartments almost always are bought or rented jointly, with both names on the mortgage or rental agreement. You pay utility bills and other household expenses from a joint account or divide them equally for payment. Automobile insurance policies, however, usually do not have to be combined. Most companies offer lower rates for married couples and multi-car discounts, so adding a second car can save you money, but there are reasons to keep policies separate. Investigate your options thoroughly before acting.

Policies Cover Vehicles

Most insurance policies are written on the vehicle but list the principal driver by name. Most policies also cover unspecified individuals, such as relatives, who operate the vehicle with the owner's consent. If there is only one vehicle in the family, it may not be necessary to add your spouse to the policy. Lower married rates usually apply even if you own only one vehicle.

Driver History

Keep separate policies if one driver has a poor driving record, with accidents, tickets or other violations, or has bad credit. Combining policies in this case may raise the rates on both your vehicles and more than offset any marriage or multi-car discounts. This can vary by company, so check with a specific agent.

Vehicle Types and Uses

If one driver has an expensive car, a luxury sedan or exotic sports car, for instance, it may be wise to keep that vehicle on a separate policy for that driver. Your spouse would normally be covered for occasional use. There may be a similar consideration if one driver uses a vehicle for work with higher rates which might affect both drivers if policies are combined.

Multiple Residences

Having one vehicle registered in one state and a second in another also can affect options. A wife from California who retains a house and car there, for instance, may keep that policy separate from a spouse with a car insured in another state. This is a common situation where couples own or retain second houses and alternate between them.

State Regulations

Always check specific state regulations. In some states, spouses cannot be excluded and must be listed on a policy at least as a second driver. A local agent should be able to explain all options for you to decide whether to combine insurance or keep separate policies.

About the Author

Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.