Question: My wife wrecked my car. She doesn’t have a license and shouldn’t have been driving. I was at work when this happened. Will my car insurance pay if she is found at fault?
Answer: Your situation resembles a parent whose unlicensed teenager takes the family car for a spin and crashes. It depends upon the details of your auto insurance policy if the accident is covered.
In general, auto insurers require that you disclose not only all regular operators of your car but also all household members of a certain age (driving age in your state usually) – whether the individuals are licensed or not.
How household members who aren’t licensed are listed on the policy can vary depending upon the car insurance company. Some auto insurers mark unlicensed drivers as “unlicensed.” If they aren’t going to be rated, then the person will also be marked as “unrated” so that the individual won’t affect your car insurance rates.
If your insurance company was aware of your spouse and had her on the policy as unrated due to her lack of a driver’s license, the incident may be covered.
It’s highly probable, however, that your auto insurance company will non-renew you at the end of your policy period, or it’ll require you to now add your wife to the policy as a rated driver (and pay a premium for her) — even if she isn’t licensed – now that she has driven your vehicle without being licensed and crashed it.
If you had failed to inform your car insurance provider that you had a spouse, it could assert that there was misrepresentation on your part. In many states, if the material misrepresentation is found, car insurance companies can deny claims and cancel your policy.
If your spouse were specifically excluded from your policy, then you should know from the language of the exclusion form that this incident wouldn’t be covered.
Excluding an individual from your policy means if that person operates your vehicle, he or she won’t be covered in any way by your auto insurance coverages or benefits. This is called a named driver exclusion.
Ultimately, to find out if your auto insurance policy will cover this accident if she is found at-fault, you’ll have to contact your insurer directly.
If your wife is covered in this instance by your auto insurance policy, then if she is found at fault the damages, she caused others would be covered by your liability insurance (bodily injury and property damage). For damage to your own vehicle, you would need collision coverage to make a claim, and the deductible would be due.
If your wife wants to drive, she must get a valid license. To get the best rates for both of you on one household auto insurance policy, start comparison shopping now. Shopping around for the cheapest rates will be important whether your wife is newly licensed or reinstating her license after a suspension or revocation.
— Penny Gusner contributed to this story.