Car insurance is cheaper if you're married, new study shows

Does being married get me better car insurance rates?

Typically, married couples have lower insurance rates than single drivers. The national annual average cost of car insurance is $1,674 for one driver, whereas the average cost of car insurance for a married couple’s policy is $1,625 for one vehicle. These rates are averages, and your individual premiums depend on your personal characteristics, such as the vehicle you drive, your driving record and your claims history. You may be able to find lower rates by shopping around with some of the best car insurance companies on the market.

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Does your husband or wife have to be on your car insurance?

The short answer to this is yes, almost always. Many insurers require you to list all the licensed drivers in a household on your policy — and that includes your spouse.

Fortunately, adding your spouse to your car insurance policy generally works in your favor. If you take out a joint policy that includes both spouses and both cars on it, you can snag a multi-car discount that lowers your rates.

In rare situations, however, spouses might want to consider separate car insurance policies rather than a joint policy.

Let’s say you drive a 2015 Honda Civic, have a clean driving record and have a high credit score. Your spouse, by contrast, drives a Ferrari, has a handful of accidents on their record and has a lower credit score. When you combine your car insurance into a joint policy, you will likely pay far more than you did as a single driver — but your spouse, benefiting from your clean record, affordable car and higher credit score, will likely pay far less than they did as a single driver.

If your car price, credit or driving history differs significantly from your spouse’s, we recommend comparing quotes from multiple insurers for both joint and single policies. Your net cost as a couple will still likely be lower on a joint policy. However, if your costs are lower for separate policies — or if, for whatever reason, you don’t want your husband or wife to drive your car — excluding your spouse from your car insurance policy is the best way to go.

Excluding your spouse from your car insurance

Excluding your spouse from your car insurance means that your insurer will not provide coverage to your spouse if they drive your car. To exclude your spouse from your insurance policy, simply call your insurer and ask them to do so. This is what is known as a named-driver exclusion.

Remember, insurers generally require all licensed drivers in a household to be listed on a car insurance policy. This means that even if you and your spouse drive separate cars and take out separate policies from different companies, you would each still be expected to list the other on your respective policies — and your rates would reflect their inclusion. Named-driver exclusions allow you to work around this rule and avoid paying extra when your spouse’s car, credit or record would increase your rates beyond what you’re willing to pay.

Once you’ve excluded your spouse from your car insurance policy, you cannot allow your spouse to drive your car. If they get in an accident while driving as an excluded driver, your insurance company will not cover the damages.

Married couples should also note that not all states allow named-driver exclusions. Check your state’s regulations and confer with your insurer before excluding your spouse from your policy.

How to combine car insurance with your spouse

If you’ve decided you want to combine car insurance with your spouse or partner, there are several steps you should take:

Identify how much coverage you need. Your cars may have depreciated in value over the years, or your partner’s car might be more expensive and need more coverage. Determine what coverage levels you need to protect yourself from legal liability and damage costs in case of an accident. Gather the necessary paperwork. You may want to have your newly minted marriage certificate on hand to prove to your insurer that you’ve tied the knot. You’ll also need to collect other key information such as details about your car’s make, model and mileage and proof of previous insurance coverage. Contact multiple insurers to compare rates. When you’re comparing rates to find the best deal, we recommend talking with a human insurance agent. Agents can help you identify and include as many discounts as possible, which could in turn lower your rates. Make sure you’re comparing the same levels of coverage across no fewer than three companies.

Before reaching out to insurers, we recommend having a candid conversation with your spouse or partner about their driving history, car price, credit score and previous insurance coverage. If your answers differ significantly, ask the insurance agent for rates for both separate and joint policies. While combining policies is generally the more affordable choice, it’s good to check.

What If My Spouse Is a Bad Driver?

Unfortunately, tying the knot with someone who has a bad driving record could impact you, too. If this is the case, you should think twice before you merge policies. Even if you keep your own, your rate could increase because you now have a high-risk driver in your household. If your spouse’s driving record is terrible, listing them as an excluded driver on your policy could save you the price increase. But if you go this route and exclude your spouse from coverage, just keep in mind that by law they won’t be allowed to drive your vehicle. If something bad happens while they are behind the wheel, and your car suffers damage, it won’t be covered, and you may also see a higher price hike in your premiums due to the fact that you broke the terms of the contract.

Encountering pushback

Yet regulators themselves may not be comfortable with the practice. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ voiced concern about marriage discounts in a 2017 report.

California has curbed the use of non-driving variables in the pricing of auto insurance when voters passed Proposition 103 in 1988. Since then, insurers are required to use three variables in descending as the primary determinants for setting rates: driving record, miles driven per year and experience. Only after that can insurers bring in other factors.

“As a result, those other factors, including marital status, have much less impact,” says Hunter.

Why does being married lower car insurance?

You might wonder what your marital status has to do with car insurance and why does being married lower car insurance in some cases? Why do married people get additional car insurance savings than their single (at least, legally) counterparts? According to The Zebra’s 2021 The State Of Auto Insurance Report (pg 15), here’s part of the reason:

“Statistically, insurance companies have found that married drivers are less likely to file claims than drivers who are single, divorced or widowed, so married drivers pay less for car insurance. When single people get married, their car insurance rates drop about 6.5%, saving roughly $96/year.”

In other words, if there are fewer claims, married people are deemed safer drivers and not as risky. According to The Zebra, there are some states where you won’t see a married insurance discount though. Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Montana don’t allow car insurance rates to be impacted simply because you have a ring on it (or not). 

On top of being deemed a safer driver, couples are rewarded for bundling their auto insurance and having a multi-car policy. So there’s not exactly an insurance discount available by car insurance providers for being married. 

Instead, your marital status is one factor that can impact your rates, and you can get a discount for having a multi-car policy. 

What Are the Average Car Insurance Costs for Single and Married Drivers?

According to The Zebra, the average married driver in the United States pays $1381 annually for car insurance. The average divorced driver pays $1467 annually. The $86 difference is not a punishment for being divorced; rather, it is a reflection of historical data and statistics.

Compared to married drivers, divorced drivers file more claims. As a result, their premiums are slightly more than married drivers.

When looking at widowed drivers, on average they pay $1431 annually for car insurance. This slight increase compared to married drivers has to do with statistics, as a widowed driver is more likely to get into an accident than a married driver. The CFA also found that in some instances, a widow could see rates increase by as much as 226 percent following the death of a spouse.

The Zebra gives a rough estimation about annual car insurance premiums for married and single drivers:

  • Allstate: $1390 for married and $1446 for single drivers
  • GEICO: $1076 for married and $1088 for single drivers
  • Farmers: $1280 for married and $1472 for single drivers
  • Liberty Mutual: $5494 for married and $6186 for single drivers
  • Nationwide: $1113 for married and $1163 for single drivers
  • Progressive: $1312 for married and $1508 for single drivers
  • State Farm: $1383 for married and $1383 for single drivers
  • USAA: $816 for married and $904 for single drivers

The only company that doesn’t charge married and single drivers a different premium is State Farm. Liberty Mutual’s rates are significantly different for those two types of drivers.

Regardless of your marital situation, rate shopping is an excellent idea. Don’t just consider the first few search results when you search for car insurance online. Take the time to check out as many companies as possible.

Discounted car insurance for married couples

If you do end up combining policies, look for special discounts available to married couples. Consider a multi-car discount. If you and your spouse each have a car, then you can get an overall better, lower rate when you insure both vehicles.You can extend the same thinking to cars your child may use. The multi-car discount applies to all the cars you own as family, so do not be afraid to take advantage of possible savings here as well.When you combine you and your spouse on a single policy, put some thought into who should be listed as the primary driver and who should be the secondary driver. Depending on the facts surrounding each of your driving histories and how much mileage each of you logs, this can have an effect on your rates. The infrequent driver discount, for example, which is available to those who drive very little, might kick in for your spouse as a secondary driver and reduce your rates even more.Find the insurance plan that offers the best discounts for married couples. Download Jerry and be instantly connected with competitive quotes from top providers. Jerry gathers your information from your past insurer, so you're not responsible for any long forms or phone calls.

Key Takeaway Check with your insurance provider to see which discounts are available for cars that are owned as a family.

Best Car Insurance Companies for Married Couples

Technically, you might not even need to completely change your marital status to take advantage of discounts. Same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2015, but some states still offer domestic partnerships, whether you’re a same-sex couple or not. In this article, we’ll use “partner” or “spouse” interchangeably to refer to people who can take advantage of these deals.

In California, Colorado, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, car insurance providers may offer married rates to domestic partners and others in LGBTQ+ civil unions.

Here are providers who offer discounts for marriage or combining policies:

Insurance Company Special Policies for Married Couples State FarmThe insurer is the nation’s largest auto insurance company and gives married couples a break with multi-car and multi-policy discounts.GEICOCouples can save as much as 25 percent with a multi-car discount. And a multi-policy discount for your home, life, or umbrella policy increases the gressiveDoes your spouse have a better driving record than you? The company factors that in and gives multi-car and multi-policy discounts, too.AllstateThe multi-car and multi-policy discount from either brand will give newlyweds and other married couples savings.Liberty MutualOn top of the savings you’ll get with multi-car or multi-policy discounts, you may also get a deal through alumni programs. Former college sweethearts can get a sweet deal.USAAIf you or your partner have served in the military, you qualify for some of the most aggressive rates in the country through USAA. You could also be eligible if your or your spouse’s parents are veterans.

Methodology

The car insurance quotes displayed are based on an analysis of Insurify’s database of over 40 million quotes from 500 ZIP codes nationwide. To obtain representative rates, Insurify’s data science team performs frequent comprehensive analyses of the factors car insurance providers weigh to calculate rates including driver demographics, driving record, credit score, desired coverage level, and more.

Insurify’s analysis also incorporates the Insurify Composite Score (ICS) assigned to each insurance provider. The ICS is a proprietary rating that weighs multiple factors reflecting the quality, reliability, and health of an insurance company. Ratings used to calculate the ICS include Financial Strength Ratings from A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch; J.D. Power ratings; Consumer Reports customer satisfaction surveys and customer complaints; mobile app reviews; and user-generated company reviews. 

With the above insights and ranking methods, Insurify is able to offer car insurance shoppers insight into how various insurance providers compare to one another in terms of both cost and quality. Note, actual quotes will vary based on unique attributes including the policyholder’s driver history and their garaging address.

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