Usually, yes. 

State laws differ, but most insurance companies require policyholders to list all licensed household members on their policy since these people will normally have access to your vehicles. In some states, if you don’t tell your insurance company about all of the drivers in your household, it can be deemed misrepresentation, which is a form of fraud. But married couples may have several options for covering or excluding their spouse, depending on his or her driving and credit record. Here’s what you need to know about your choices.

Can married couples have separate car insurance? 

Typically, before a couple gets married, they usually have separate car insurance policies if they both have their own cars and live in different places. They may be able to continue keeping separate policies after they’re married, but they’ll usually need to be listed on each other’s policies after they move in together. It’s usually cheaper for spouses to come together and be covered under one policy after they’re married. Insurers generally charge lower premiums for married couples than they do for individual drivers, and you may get additional car insurance discounts for insuring more than one car and driver on the same policy.

If both partners have clean driving records, the savings can be significant. Married couples with clean records on the same policy typically pay about 4% to 10% less than safe, single drivers.

But there are some situations where adding your spouse to your coverage can raise your rates, such as if your spouse has a poor driving record or low credit score. In that case, you may want to exclude your husband or wife from your coverage – but only if your spouse never plans to drive your car.

Excluding your spouse from your car insurance 

Auto insurance companies typically consider all licensed drivers in a household when calculating rates, and a spouse with a poor driving or credit record can boost your rates – or make it difficult to get coverage at all, depending on the severity of their record. Insurance companies determine premiums based on various rating factors, with a major one being your motor vehicle record. If the insurer finds that a driver on your policy has multiple traffic violations, then it’s going to boost your rates. If any of the violations are major offenses, such as reckless driving or DUI, then that will make the rates go even higher.

If you don’t want your spouse’s poor record to affect your rates, you may want to consider an option such as a named-driver exclusion, if state laws and your insurance company’s guidelines allow. This is an endorsement to your policy that says your spouse won’t be covered when driving your car. “It may bring a lower premium, but the risk could be very high if your spouse has an accident -- not to mention that it could impact your rates going forward if you lied and your spouse did use your vehicle,” says Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute. The rules vary by insurer and state. 

Can my wife drive my car without insurance?

If you have a car and insurance but your wife does not have a separate car, she should be listed on your car insurance policy as a driver. Most insurance companies require all licensed household members to be listed on the policy as drivers. If you haven’t informed the insurance company that you’re married, you need to do that now and add her to the policy. She doesn’t have to buy her own policy – in fact, she usually couldn’t get a separate policy if you only have one vehicle.

Once she is listed as a driver, the insurance company will rate her as an occasional driver, primary or secondary driver since there is only one car in the household.

If she has a bad driving record or there is some other reason she hasn’t been listed on your policy up to this point, then your rates may go up when you add her. If this happens and you want her to be covered when driving your car, it’s a good time to shop around for more affordable auto insurance – the formulas for setting rates can vary from company to company.

If your wife isn’t on your car insurance policy because she doesn’t have a license, she could be listed on your policy as “unlicensed” and marked as unrated so she won’t affect your car insurance rates. Without a license, she should not be driving your car. But if she does end up taking the car and having an accident, and the insurance company was aware of her and had her on the policy as unrated (due to her lack of driver’s license), then there’s a possibility that the accident would be covered. However, it’s highly probable that your auto insurance company will non-renew you at the end of your policy period, or may require you to 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 company that you had a spouse, then the insurer could assert that there was misrepresentation on your part. In many states, the car insurance company could deny claims and cancel your policy because of material misrepresentation.