So your spouse made a mistake and got a DUI/DWI. How does this affect your insurance? Can you still get affordable car insurance if your spouse has a DUI or DWI? Today, we’re answering all your questions about how your spouse’s drunk driving violations affect your insurance rates.
Vehicle Insurance Companies Base Rates Off Every Driver in your Household
The first and most important thing to note about this issue is that the insurance company will not likely ignore it. Insurance companies base their rates on the perceived risk factor of your vehicle. To make that rate, they assess the risk factor of every driver in your household – including the vehicle’s owner and any other drivers. They look at the individual’s age, gender, and driving history.
Even if you hold the insurance policy and own the vehicle, your insurance will go up after your spouse gets a DUI or DWI. You are living with a high-risk driver, and your rates will almost certainly increase.
That’s the bad news. However, there are ways to avoid the high costs of insurance after a DUI or DWI.
Insurance Companies Let You Exclude Certain Drivers, Depending on your Policy
Some insurance companies will let you exclude a driver from your policy. If you guarantee that your spouse will never drive the vehicle, for example, then you can avoid the high insurance costs.
This is where insurance companies have different policies. Some insurance policies only extend to one listed driver. You need to specifically add extra drivers to your insurance policy by informing your insurer. Otherwise, nobody in your household can drive your vehicle except you.
Other insurance companies have a more open policy: your policy automatically extends to every driver in your household, including the policyholder’s spouse and children. If your insurer uses this policy, then your spouse’s DUI will have a major impact on your insurance rate.
Ultimately, you need to contact your insurer to find out if your spouse is listed as a driver on your insurance policy. If he or she is listed, then you can almost certainly save money by excluding your spouse from your policy.
How to Exclude your Spouse from your Policy
So you’ve contacted your insurance company and you want to exclude your spouse from your insurance policy. Obviously, the cost of insurance with a DUI/DWI is prohibitively expensive for many families. Insurance companies may even refuse to insure you.
Before excluding your spouse from your policy, make sure you’re the registered owner of the vehicle. If you own the vehicle jointly, then you may or may not be able to exclude your spouse from the policy (talk to your insurance company to see if it’s possible to exclude your spouse in this situation).
If you try to exclude the registered owner of a vehicle from the vehicle’s insurance policy, it will probably cause problems. Insurance companies have been known to cancel your policy or refuse to renew it in this situation.
For simplicity’s sake, make sure you’re the registered owner of the vehicle before you try to exclude your spouse. If you’re not, transfer the ownership to your name.
What If My Spouse Still Needs to Drive?
So your spouse is excluded from your vehicle’s insurance, but they still need to drive. What do you do?
In situations like this, households often choose to insure a driver under a separate policy. If your spouse has a license and can still legally drive, then they can order a separate policy while still being excluded from the family’s main policy. Typically, this is used for teenagers when they receive their first car, but it can also be used by families where one member received a DUI.
Sometimes, having two separate policies won’t save you money. You may be better to bundle it all under your single family policy – even if your rates are significantly higher after the DUI/DWI. In general, if you just have one vehicle covered under your policy, then it won’t cause rates to rise too ridiculously high after a DUI – but if you have two or more vehicles, it may be best to get a separate policy.
What Happens if an Excluded Driver Gets in a Collision?
If your spouse drives your vehicle after being excluded from your policy, then it’s obviously not ideal.
In this situation, any damage incurred to the vehicle will not be covered by your auto insurance. The insurance company will deny the claim, and the vehicle’s owner will be responsible for paying any damage out of pocket (including any lawsuits, property damage, or other damages that occurred as a result of the collision).
It gets worse: if you allow an excluded driver to use your vehicle, then you could be charged with insurance fraud. This will lead to a cancellation of your insurance policy and possible criminal charges.
After your policy is canceled, it will be virtually impossible to get affordable vehicle insurance.
Ultimately, when your spouse gets a DUI/DWI, it makes it difficult – but not impossible – to find affordable vehicle insurance. Your best option is to exclude your spouse from your policy, and then prevent your spouse from driving your vehicle.