Your particular insurance needs depend, in part, on who you live with and your relationship to them. Most changes to your relationship status will warrant an insurance policy update.
If you don’t update that information, your insurance company may have incomplete information about who’s sharing your home or your car, and you may have too little or too much coverage.
Insurance Needs for Single or Single with Roommates
Whether you rent or own, whether you live alone or with roommates, you should have an insurance policy to cover your home and possessions, as well as the necessary car insurance. Your guests, your roommates, and their guests can all cause damage to your home or car (and so can you, for that matter).
If you’re living with roommates, your insurance company may want you to add your roommates to your car insurance policy, just in case they drive your car and end up in a crash. Be sure to check with your insurance company. The last thing you want is for your roommate to cause damage to your car that your insurance won’t cover.
If you’re renting, the person on the lease typically purchases the renters insurance. If both your names are on the lease, you’ll need separate renters insurance policies. Most insurance companies will not write one policy for unrelated friends.
If one name isn’t on the lease and that person doesn’t have a policy, the possessions they keep in the home are likely still covered by the policyholder’s insurer.
Yet, any possessions lost, destroyed or damaged outside of the home may not be covered . If this person’s phone is stolen while they’re out, for instance, it wouldn’t be covered.
To have the off-premises possessions covered, the policy-holder would have to buy an insurance endorsement to provide their roommate with off-premises possessions and liability protection.
If one person has bought a place and the other roommates are paying rent to them—think Blanche and the other Golden Girls—the owner should get a homeowners insurance or condo insurance policy and the renters should each get a renters insurance policy.
Insurance Coverage for Unmarried Partners
Nearly every state requires insurance companies to recognize and provide coverage to domestic partnerships, but whether you need to register officially as domestic partners depends on the insurance company. Each insurance company might require something different to confirm the domestic partnership. If you or your significant other are not domestic partners, you may need to buy separate insurance policies, the way roommates would.
Sharing your home with someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you are sharing your car with that person; but if you are, you’ll need to update your car insurance.
You should discuss your driving record with your partner. If one of you has a bad driving record, their premiums could be higher. For this reason, the two of you may want to keep your auto insurance policies separate. But, you might be eligible for a discount if you combine your car insurance policies into one.
If you are cohabitating and registered as domestic partners, it’s required to have both names on the home insurance.
Insurance Options for Married Couples
Once someone becomes married, this means they will usually begin to share assets with their spouse, like a home and car. It is important to know what you need to do to ensure your assets together are protected at all times.
Once you get married, you and your spouse need to be on the same car insurance policy, says Teresa Wharton, an account executive for CBIZ Insurance Services in Cumberland, Maryland. This way, if one of you drives the other’s car and gets into an accident, you’ll still be covered. And, you’ll likely receive a discount for combining policies.
If your spouse has a terrible driving record, this could dramatically increase your insurance premiums. In some states, such as California, you could exclude your spouse from your car insurance by adding a named driver exclusion endorsement to your policy.
The excluded driver wouldn’t be allowed to drive your car. If they did, and then needed to make an insurance claim, your insurance company wouldn’t be required to pay the claim.
Some states, such as New York and Virginia, don’t allow you to exclude anyone in a household from your policy.
The moment you get married, your spouse is covered by your homeowners, renters or condo insurance, so long as your spouse lives in the household with you. You should still inform your insurance carrier of the good news.
Make sure that you reevaluate your coverage to determine whether it’s enough to protect any additional possessions. If, for example, the engagement ring and wedding bands are worth more than what your valuable items insurance will cover, then consider adding extra coverage for those items.
Insurance Changes After Separation or Divorce
Becoming recently separated or divorced is challenging time for couples. Understanding the necessary steps in updating your insurance coverages will help reassure that all assets will be protected properly.
You’ll also need to get a new title issued for your car if both spouses were previously listed as owners. “If there’s an accident, the other driver will go after the car owner, not the driver,” warns Wharton.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on a resolution for your car, you may need to negotiate this through the divorce court. “You can’t just remove your ex from the insurance policy, either, because most insurance companies want a signature from each person to acknowledge the change,” adds Wharton
Note that your car insurance discounts may disappear, particularly those tied to multiple drivers and vehicles.
If you are married but separated—meaning that you no longer share the household with your spouse but are not officially divorced—you are no longer considered an insured on the policy.
If you still have possessions at the home you shared with your spouse, but there’s a fire in the house that causes damage to your possessions, your spouse will receive the reimbursement check for those damages, not you. So, if you move out, take your belongings with you.
If you and your spouse are divorcing and one spouse is keeping the home, the other will need to sign a quit claim so that the deed to the home can be reissued in the sole owner’s name.
“The homeowners insurance policy is tied to the deed to the property, so if both spouses’ names are on the deed, you can’t just remove them from the insurance policy,” explains Wharton.
Insurance Next Steps for People Who Are Recently Widowed
The death of a spouse can be one of the most difficult life experiences many of us will ever have to face. It’s a huge adjustment. Knowing that you have the protection you need, and are not paying for coverage you don’t, may help provide some peace of mind.
If your spouse is named on the policy, you’ll need to change the policy to your name only. This can be done immediately — even if you need to re-register the car and haven’t done so yet. (Check with your state Motor Vehicle Department to verify requirements.)
If you plan to keep your spouse’s car, you’ll need to know when you should keep full coverage and when you can suspend it. It will be important to understand who can drive the car and be fully covered in case of an accident.
If you do sell the car, let your insurance company know on what date that will take place. They can stop your coverage at the right time, and you won’t wind up paying insurance on a car you no longer own.
If you have one car, and your spouse was the only licensed driver, you may decide to keep that car and arrange for someone to drive you occasionally. In that case, your insurance company will explain how to handle the insurance.
Even if your spouse’s name is still on the deed to the home, it should be removed from your insurance policy.
If you decide to establish joint ownership of your home with a son or daughter, it may be appropriate to list your child’s name, along with yours, on the policy. There’s a difference in how this is handled; it depends on whether the son or daughter lives with you. Talk to your agent or insurance company so you can be confident the policy is written for your specific needs.
If you plan to sell your home, or if you’ll be moving from a house to a condo or apartment—talk to your agent or insurance company. They can help ensure you have the coverages you need for your new situation.
Sometimes a house in transition remains vacant (which means there is nothing in it, not just that it’s unoccupied) for a significant period of time. Be sure to tell your insurance company if this is or will be your situation. It’s important that your home is covered, even if it’s empty.
Umbrella insurance policies increase liability coverage for both your homeowners and car insurance policies. As with your other policies, you should review your umbrella insurance policy during any life change. If you combine households, you may need more coverage, but after a divorce, you may need less coverage.
Whenever you go through life-altering events it’s a good time to reassess your insurance coverage.
Decoder Brain Teaser
Can you determine what the number equivalent is?
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informational in nature. It may not be current, and is subject to change without notice. Please contact your agent or carrier for your specific coverage implications. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.
I appreciated how this post mentioned that roommates can be added to your automobile policy when the provider required it. My sister should know this since she’s planning to get an automobile policy. I should advise her to make sure to obtain it from a provider that provides a tailored option.
I am divorced but my ex and I still have two homes that the mortgage and deed are in both of our names. One is currently rented and one is for sale. We have been trying to sell both for 2years on and off. We have an umbrella policy in both our names but I would like just one in my name as I do not want to assume his risk of being sued. (He is an alcoholic and drives so there is added risk). Can I get my own. Umbrella and if he fails to get one does that leave the joint properties at risk?( there really is no equity in either home)
Thanks for your exciting article. One other problem is that mesothelioma cancer is generally a result of the breathing of fibres from asbestos, which is a very toxic material. It is commonly observed among employees in the engineering industry who’ve long contact with asbestos. It could be caused by moving into asbestos covered buildings for long periods of time, Genetic makeup plays an important role, and some persons are more vulnerable for the risk compared to others.
A lot of reading and information, but what is the bottom line? Price for single, married, widow, divorce difference?
I have been a widow for almost 4 years. And drive less millage now too. Drive mostly local. Any possibility my car insurance could lower. very limited income these days.
Hi Linda. Please call The Hartford’s customer service at 800.423.6789 to further discuss the cost of your insurance coverage. Thank you.
do you also offer house insurance as a combination with car?
Hi Cathy, are you looking to bundle your home and auto policies with The Hartford?
If a spouse dies and everything else remains the same, it is my understanding that the surviving spouse will actually pay a higher premium. It that so? If so, why? The surviving spouse cold actually be the better driver.
Hi John. That’s a good question. We advise you to call customer service at 800-423-6789 for further policy information.
Thank you, Edward!
My wife has Humana Chice PPO is she covered for a nursing home facility is she is diagnosed w/ on set Progressive Dimentia. what are the options I have for care for her.
Hi Charlie- Thank you for your question. We suggest talking with your insurance provider about what your plan covers, along with your health care provider. We wish you and your wife all the best as you navigate these changes.
I am an 89 year old widow. I live alone. I have both auto and renter insurance.
I drive less than 1500 miles a year.
Are there any new changes for widows as seniors regarding little mileage and home ownership for me?
On February 28th 2019 my wife Elaine and I will celebrate our 60th Anniversary — Young love worked out for us – I had just turned 20 and Elaine was only 17 at the time of our marriage – we have 4 children and 16 grandchildren —so I want the nothing but the best insurance for my wife and myself –at this time in our lives only the best will do ———- be good and do good – VC
Congratulations on 60 years Victor and Elaine!
I have friend from Arkansas that stays with me sometimes. He was in my home and drove my car just two blocks from my home, to get gas in it, and when leaving backed into another vehicle. To my shock he did not have a valid drivers license, NEVER AGAIN WILL ANYONE SIT BEHIND THE WHEEL OF MY CAR UNLESS I SEE A VALID DL.
Hi Cheryl, thank you for sharing this learning experience. This is great advice to other readers.
As a single 96 yr old widow who has never had an accident,and is living with a wid-
ower,who does not drive; Am wondering if I might posslbly be a candidate for a de-
deduction for my 3 yr Nisson,which will be up in May,2019 .So far, I have driven 4000 miles during this period.Realizing that it is late in my contract,if I may still be a candidate for a deduction on my policy with Hartford,for the remaining months?
Hello Beverly, you can call one of our agents who can help you get a new quote. Please try this number: 1-877-896-9320
any time between M-F: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and Sat: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET
Very good point…how do you leave out all of the widowed? Although not something any of us looks forward to… it is a part of life for a great deal of us. Looking forward to you including a big chunk of society that you left out .
Good information, consise and to the point. I learned something today, keep up the good work.
We appreciate your feedback, Dave!
Recently widowed, I own my home, my two adult children live with me since the death of my husband. How would this effect my insurance. Homeowners and auto.
Thank you everyone for your suggestions. We have added a new section to this article about how to manage home and auto policies after the loss of a loved one. We hope you find this helpful but please let us know if you have any additional questions or comments!
What about when an adult child moves back home living with a widowed parent? There is no rent involved.
My husband is in a nursing home with no chance of returning home. Should I remove him from our joint policies, He is on medicade and suffering from dementia.
After being married for 60 years, my wonderful husband passed away on December 27, 2018. Is there something I must do regarding a) our condo, b) our car, c) our car and home insurance?
I am 96 years of age and no longer drive, but I have the sister of my daughter in law
that takes care of me and drives my car. I put her,my son and daughter in law on my
Hartford policy as they very occasionally need to drive my car for me. The care giver is the main driver and I find her a very cautious driver. I would be the driver but feel
I do not want to drive any more although fully capable. I have no mental problems
to affect my living, but I can no longer walk and prefer to have Sherry do the driving.
How does this affect the cost of my policy. I am looking for a newer model van and may have to carry more than liability coverage. How does this affect the cost?
Hi Peggy- Please call our customer service department at 1-877-896-9320 and one of our representatives can gladly go over your policy with you if you were to add your caregiver as a driver and quote a newer van.
What about single living alone?
Great feedback, Connie. We have adjusted the section with more information of living without roommates. Check it out!
I am a widower of 14 years. I live alone in a 675 sq. ft. apartment in a retirement facility. I have auto and renters insurance with The Hartford.
Let me know if these conditions cause any adjustments.
Hi Charles, we are sorry for your loss. We will be adding a section soon on widowers.
Have to agree w/Ellen Wright – I am a widow as well so no information that would help except about umbrella policy – which did really address my situation, either.
Hello Mrs. T-
We are currently adding to this article with a “widow” section. In the meantime, you may want to look at Widows Guide To Buying, Selling, and Maintaining a Car
Excellent article……We have been cohabitating for many years and initially just put our names as additional drivers on each respective auto policy, Several years ago, we combined all our insurance policies for continuity, coverage, and discounts. Most people don’t seem to understand the legal implications regarding insurance for the cohabitating couple. Thank you for covering a very important topic.
Thank you for your feedback!
What if you are a widow?
Hi Susan. Excellent point. We are currently adding to this article with a “widow” section. In the meantime, check out The Hartford’s Widows Guide To Buying, Selling, and Maintaining a Car.
As a widow living alone it did me no good
Hi Ellen, we are sorry for your loss. Thank you for reading! Check back soon for an added section for widows.
Excellent article. Had I not worked for an attorney for over 10 years I would not have known the subject matter as you’ve described. Good work.
Thank you Sonia! We appreciate your feedback.
You’ve got great insights about the Article, Thanks and keep up the good work!