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Spouse who doesn’t drive could help rates


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Question: Does my wife have to be on my car insurance policy?  She hasn’t driven a car in 23 years but has kept a license. My insurance company has kept her on my policy. I talked to the Maryland insurance regulator’s office. It said to tell the insurer she doesn’t drive, and she isn’t going to because she is scared of operating a vehicle. My insurer still says that I can’t take her off.

Answer: There are a few potential ways to get your wife off your car insurance policy as a driver, but you may not really want to.  It’s possible that having your wife on your policy is actually lowering your rates.

First, let’s look at why your insurer wants your wife on your policy.

Car insurance companies typically require all licensed household members be listed on an auto policy so they can assess the risk each person poses and calculate your rates accordingly.

Insurers have been burned too many times by people who say one thing and do otherwise, so even though you told your car insurance company that your wife doesn’t drive – and never will – it’s not going to take you at your word.

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Instead, car insurance companies look at the facts. The fact is that your wife is licensed and shares your residence, so she has access to the household vehicle, and this is why your insurer placed your wife on your policy as an eligible driver.

Remove or exclude your spouse

One way to get the insurer to take your wife off your car insurance policy is to have her surrender her license.

If your spouse has decided that she is never going to drive again, she could trade in her driver’s license for a Maryland identification card.  A state ID card can be used for identification purposes the same as a driver’s license.

Most car insurance companies won’t require you to list your wife as a driver if she isn’t licensed.  Some providers may still list her on the policy, but it should be as unlicensed and unrated.

Or, your wife can keep her license, and you can ask for a named driver exclusion form for her.

Many states, including Maryland where you live, allow you to exclude a person you don’t want on your car insurance policy as a rated driver -- if you and the insurer agree to it in writing. You don’t pay for the person to be a driver (though there may be a slight exclusion surcharge), and in return your insurer won’t extend insurance coverage to your wife.

If you take either of these options, your wife won't be covered to drive your car even in an emergency situation.

Keep her on the policy and save

You didn’t mention why you want to remove your wife from your car insurance policy.  If you’re doing it to save money, because you believe it’s costing you extra for her to be on the policy, you may be mistaken.

Removing a driver due to a bad driving record that could negatively affect rates is what policyholders usually want – say a spouse with a recent DUI -- but it appears your wife is the opposite.

If your wife isn’t adding any risk by being on your policy, then it may not be costing you anything to insure her and instead actually be saving you money.

If your wife has an excellent driving record -- which if she hasn’t driven in 23 years she should -- she likely is getting a good driver discount.   She’s been accident-free and claim-frees and could get discounts for that as well. 

Taking a good driver off your record, and losing the associated discounts, could raise your rates. 

I’d suggest before continuing to push your current insurance company to remove your wife to ask your agent what your policy would cost without her. 

Also, comparison shop with other insurance providers since guidelines and prices vary greatly by insurer.  You can easily compare car insurance rates with multiple car insurance companies online to see if having your wife on your policy helps or hurts your rates. 

If it helps your rates, keep your wife on the policy and enjoy the discounts. If she somehow hurts it, then find a company that will let you remove or exclude her if your current one won’t.

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