Published: March 30, 2023Last updated: April 3, 2023

Car Insurance for Married Couples: Facts and Statistics

In 42 states, getting divorced or becoming widowed means higher car insurance rates.

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Marriage has a ton of financial benefits, from potential income tax breaks to purchasing power when you buy your first home. But one benefit people may overlook is cheaper car insurance rates.

In most states, it’s legal for insurance companies to charge less for married drivers, who are statistically less likely to get into car accidents and have claims. Single, divorced or widowed drivers may pay an average of 15 percent more for insurance than married couples in most states. But combining your car insurance policy with your spouse’s isn’t always a good thing.

Facts About Car Insurance for Married Couples

When you date someone, you probably consider their appearance, personality, values, occupation, finances and possibly their credit score. But what about their driving record? That matters when it comes to car insurance rates.

Should Married Couples Have Separate or Joint Car Insurance?

On average, married couples with joint auto insurance policies get cheaper rates than single people. You should combine your car insurance with your spouse’s if:

  • You both have good driving records.
  • Neither of you has had any recent lapses in car insurance.
  • You own multiple cars, which could unlock a multicar insurance discount.

Note that some insurance companies require you to be on the same policy with anyone who lives in your household, so you may not have a choice either way.1

However, you’ll be better off staying separated (car insurance-wise, of course) if:

  • One of you is a high-risk driver with a history of tickets, at-fault accidents and points on your driving record. If so, the person with the bad driving record should look into high-risk insurance while the other person should stick to a standard policy.

Taking out an insurance policy solo if your spouse has a bad record will keep your rates low.

Should Unmarried Couples Get Joint Insurance?

Although they won’t get a discount for being married, unmarried couples should combine their car insurance if they live in the same household, own multiple cars and have solid driving records.

How to Combine Car Insurance

To combine your car insurance with your spouse’s, contact your insurance agent directly. They will add you to your partner’s policy, or vice versa, as a “covered user.” Depending on the other person’s driving record, your auto insurance premiums may increase or decrease and there will be new paperwork to sign.

Can Car Insurance Companies Determine Premiums Based on Marital Status?

Most states let insurance companies base car insurance costs on marital status. However, some states make it outright illegal and other states, such as Maryland, prevent situations like a spouse dying resulting in higher car insurance premiums for the widow. Find your state’s laws below to see if you can save.

State Legal for car insurance companies to discriminate by marital status?
Alabama Yes
Alaska Yes
Arizona No; companies can’t factor in marital status to insurance score, which is used to rate policies
Arkansas Yes
California Yes
Colorado Yes
Connecticut Yes
Delaware Yes, but can’t take into account credit scores that are based on marital status, partially, and cannot raise prices due to change in marital status because of the death of a spouse
DC Yes
Florida Yes, but can’t be the sole factor
Georgia Yes
Hawaii No
Idaho Yes
Illinois Yes, but marital status can’t be taken into account in credit score
Indiana Yes
Iowa No
Kansas Yes
Kentucky Yes
Louisiana Yes
Maine Yes
Maryland Yes, but insurers can’t increase premiums based solely on a spouse dying
Massachusetts No
Michigan No
Minnesota Yes
Mississippi Yes
Missouri Yes
Montana Yes
Nebraska Yes
Nevada Yes
New Hampshire Yes
New Jersey Yes, but cannot raise prices for someone whose spouse died or got divorced
New Mexico Yes
New York Yes, but must be supported by statistical data
North Carolina Yes
North Dakota Yes
Ohio No
Oklahoma Yes
Oregon Yes, but must be “based on sound underwriting or actuarial principles”
Pennsylvania Yes
Rhode Island Yes
South Carolina Yes
South Dakota Yes
Tennessee Yes
Texas Yes, but only if the company can show that you’re at a greater risk for loss
Utah Yes
Vermont Yes, but must be based on “relevant actuarial data or actual cost experience”
Virginia Yes, as long as it’s based on “relevant actuarial data”
Washington Yes
West Virginia Yes
Wisconsin Yes
Wyoming No; marital status cannot be used in credit-based insurance score

Car Insurance for Same-sex Couples

If they’re married, car insurance works the same way for same-sex couples as it does for heterosexual couples. Even if it’s a domestic partnership, the couple could see lower auto insurance rates. However, according to a study from the Consumer Federation, some companies charge domestic partners higher rates than married couples.2

Car Insurance Discounts for Married Couples

After you’ve combined your insurance policies, make sure you take advantage of other potential discounts like the below.

  1. Get a multivehicle discount: The more cars you have, the cheaper it’ll be to insure each vehicle.
  2. Bundle home and auto insurance: Do you rent or own a home? Congratulations. Get your home and auto insurance policies from the same provider to save on each with a multipolicy discount. These providers let you save money by bundling home and auto. It’ll also be more convenient when you file a claim.
  3. Military: If one of both of you is a member of the military, look for a company that offers discounts for military members and their families. USAA is one of the cheapest options available in ZIP codes across the United States.

Statistics About Car Insurance Rates for Married Drivers

How does being married vs. single, divorced or widowed affect the cost of auto insurance?

How Divorce Affects Car Insurance

According to a Consumer Federation study from 2015, when someone goes from married to single, divorced or separated, car insurance rates increase by 15 percent on average. With companies like Farmers, pricing can rise by as much as 22 percent for the same insurance coverage.

Company Average percentage increase in annual premiums from married status to single/separated/divorced status
Farmers 22%
Progressive 19%
Nationwide 9%
Liberty Mutual 8%
Average 15%

The Cost of Auto Insurance for Widowed Drivers

In the same vein, widows pay an average of 14 percent more than when their spouse was alive. At companies like GEICO, rates could rise as high as 29 percent, nearly a third more.

Company Average increase in car insurance costs in 10 cities when a young woman is widowed
GEICO 29%
Farmers 22%
Progressive 19%
Liberty Mutual 8%
Nationwide 3%
State Farm 0%
Average 14%

Why Do Married People Get Lower Rates?

The reason married people get lower auto insurance rates, and the reason it’s legal in many states, is that statistically, married people are less likely to get into car accidents. Multiple studies over the years from multiple countries have confirmed this correlation, with varying results.

A 2000 study from the University of California, Riverside, found that divorced people were significantly more likely to die in car crashes compared to married people. The researchers postulated that the stress of divorce causes depression, making it difficult for people to operate vehicles safely. However, the study found that widowed and single people had lower traffic fatality rates than married people, in contrast.3

In a 2004 study that took place in New Zealand, researchers found that people who have never been married had twice the risk of driver injury compared to married drivers. That was true even when adjusting for driving exposure, area of residence, body mass index, occupational status and alcohol intake, such as a DUI or DWI.4

Two years later, in a 2006 study of diabetic people, the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine found that unmarried people had crash rates of 36 percent, compared to rates of 16 percent of their married sibling controls. The study also found that, in general, diabetic people are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents, regardless of their ages.

Finally, a 2012 study from Tehran, Iran, found that single people were 1.5 times more likely to be involved in traffic accidents compared to married people. Single people are more likely to take driving risks, according to the researchers, such as driving dangerously and not wearing seat belts.

Conclusion

Since it’s been proven repeatedly that married people are less likely to get into car crashes than single people, it’s legal in most of the U.S. for insurance companies to determine pricing on the basis of marital status. That said, marital status isn’t the only factor that affects car insurance rates. In most states, it’s also legal to take into account the driver’s credit score, gender and age, making it harder for people with bad credit, men and younger people to find affordable car insurance.

Methodology

To compile this report, we used data from the following third-party sources:

  • Consumer Federation
  • National Library of Medicine
  • Progressive
  • Science Direct

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it cheaper to have two main drivers on car insurance?

It may or may not be cheaper to have two main drivers on car insurance. It depends on the circumstances. If both people have good driving records and no lapses in coverage, they could benefit from a multivehicle discount. Additionally, in most states, they could save if they’re a married couple.

Does it matter who the main driver on car insurance is?

It does not matter who is the main driver on a car insurance policy because all included drivers will affect the premiums. However, typically, the main driver is the person who drives the insured car the most.

Who is responsible if a named driver crashes?

If a named driver crashes and causes an accident, they will be responsible for any property damages or injuries they caused, both to themselves and others.

Can I own a car but not be the named insured?

You can own a car and not be the named insured if you don’t drive the car. Car insurance follows the car, not the driver, so anyone driving your car with permission will be covered.

Citations

  1. Do I have to add my spouse to my car insurance policy? Progressive. (2023).
    https://www.progressive.com/answers/insurance-with-spouse/

  2. New Research Shows That Most Major Auto Insurers Vary Prices Considerably Depending on Marital Status. Consumer Federation of America. (2015, Jul 27).
    https://consumerfed.org/press_release/new-research-shows-that-most-major-auto-insurers-vary-prices-considerably-depending-on-marital-status/

  3. Motor vehicle crash fatalities: The effects of race and marital status. Applied Behavioral Science Review via ScienceDirect. (1998).
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1068859599800051

  4. Motor vehicle driver injury and marital status: a cohort study with prospective and retrospective driver injuries. National Library of Medicine. (2004, Feb).
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14760024/