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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Whenever you purchase auto insurance, your car insurance company will ask you a few questions about your household and driving habits. One question they will ask is whether anyone else in your home has access to your vehicles. Anyone who lives in your home and is able to drive your car will be assumed to use the vehicle at least occasionally; this means that anyone in your household can have an effect on your car insurance rates.
While your car insurance company may automatically assume that your spouse drives your vehicle, you may still want to add her to the policy as a listed driver or as the policy’s co-owner. You can add your wife to your car insurance by calling your agent or customer service department. Not only does adding your wife to your auto policy ensure that any accidents she causes will be covered by your insurance, it also enables your wife to deal with your car insurance company without your presence.
Co-Insured or Listed Driver?
When adding your wife to your policy, you can choose to list her as the co-owner of the policy or as a listed driver. Co-insureds have substantially more influence over the policy than drivers. For example, payments can be issued in the name of the co-insured. The co-insured can also add or remove coverage or vehicles from a policy. While many couples are comfortable with this arrangement, it may not work for all situations.
Inclusive drivers have much less authority over the policy than co-insureds. They cannot add or delete coverage and cannot have insurance payments made out to them. They are able to file claims, however, as well as schedule inspections or vehicle repairs following a claim.
Most car insurance companies have auto repair shops that work directly with the company; because the shop is paid directly by the insurer, a driver can have the vehicle repaired through one of these shops without a payment needing to be issued to the named policyholder.
Why add someone to your car insurance policy?
Usually, car insurance follows the vehicle regardless of who is driving it. This means that your vehicle will usually be covered in an accident even if the driver is not listed on the policy. Some insurance companies will only cover accidents caused by listed drivers, however, and unlisted drivers can cause settlement delays for all insurance companies. This is one reason why it’s important to add a driver to your policy.
The other main reason to add a driver to your policy is so that someone other than you can handle a claim. For example, if your wife is not listed on the policy and she gets into an accident, she would not be able to file a claim. She could contact the insurance company and start the process, but the company would need to call you to confirm all of the details and schedule an inspection. This redundant process can be time-consuming, and is consistent for all conversations that happen for the duration of the claim.
Having another person listed on your policy is especially important in case of emergencies. If you are ever injured or otherwise unable to deal with your insurance company, another person on your policy can handle your claim for you. Similarly, if you leave town on business and something happens to your car while you’re away, your spouse can resolve the claim without needing to wait for you to come home.
Whether or not your spouse is listed on the policy, her driving record will affect your rates. The only way to keep her driving history from having an effect on your policy is to exclude her from the policy. This would mean that she could not drive any vehicle on the policy, or the claim would be denied and the policy possibly canceled. This may be an option for you if your spouse has a bad driving history or a DUI conviction, or if you each have your own vehicle and never drive the other person’s car. Otherwise, you will want to add your spouse to the policy.
If you have any questions about adding your wife to your policy, you can contact your agent or call the customer service number for your insurance company. Married couples usually pay lower rates than singles, so you may be able to receive a discount. You can also ask if there are any other discounts you can qualify for.