Car Insurance After a Divorce

car insurance after a divorce

Written By: James Shaffer

Major life events, including a divorce, affect car insurance.

If you are recently divorced, then you may need to contact your insurer, buy a new policy, and adjust
your coverage.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about car insurance after a divorce.


How Divorce Affects Car Insurance


Getting a divorce impacts many parts of your life – including car insurance.

Typically, an auto insurance policy lists both spouses as “named insured.” Your insurance policy covers
you and your spouse regardless of who owns the covered vehicle.

Moving forward, you may need to cancel the joint insurance policy and buy separate policies.

If you have moved out and live at a separate address, then you need to buy a separate policy and cancel
your old policy. If you are continuing to live at the same address, then you can continue with your old
policy – regardless of whether you are legally divorced or still legally married.

You also need to consider who takes ownership of different vehicles. If you and your spouse jointly own
a vehicle, then you’ll need to decide who gets the vehicle (or have a court decide).

Or, if you are financing or leasing a vehicle, you may need to meet with the dealership to have one
spouse take full possession of the vehicle.


Spouses Must Get Their Own Insurance Policy After Moving Out


How long can a spouse stay on an insurance policy after a divorce? Generally, you need to get new,
separate policies after moving out.

Once you have moved to a new location and are living apart from your spouse, your insurer requires you
to update your policy to reflect the change. At this point, it’s best to cancel your old policy and buy a
new policy (even if it’s with the same insurer).

Here’s how it works:


Married and Living Together: If you are a married couple and live together, then most insurers require
you to share a car insurance policy, assuming all cars are registered at the same address. In fact, most
insurers require any licensed drivers at the same address to be listed on all insurance policies.

Separated and Living Together: If you are divorced and living together, and your cars are all registered
at the same address, then you can maintain the same car insurance policy – similar to how roommates
can share car insurance. In fact, most insurers require you to list all licensed drivers in your household
regardless of your relationship with those drivers – including roommates, spouses, children, and ex-
spouses. In this situation, it does not matter if you are separated and living together (while still legally
married) or divorced and living together (while not legally married)

Separated and Living Separately: If you are divorced and living separately, and your cars will be parked
at separate addresses, then you need new car insurance policies – regardless of whether you are legally

divorced or just separated while still legally married. Your cars need to be listed on separate auto
insurance policies based on where they’re parked.


Things to Consider for Car Insurance After a Divorce


Some of the things to consider when checking car insurance after a divorce include:

Who Pays Insurance Premiums? In most cases, both you and your spouse are “named insureds” on your
auto insurance policy. In fact, most insurance policies require your spouse to be listed as a named
insured on your insurance policy. As long as both spouses are listed as a named insured on the insurance
policy, then both spouses must continue paying insurance premiums until you cancel the policy.

When to Cancel your Old Policy and Start your New Policy: Assuming you’re living apart after a divorce,
you need separate insurance policies. Buy a new insurance policy. Then, cancel your old insurance policy
the same date your new policy begins to avoid a lapse in coverage (and to avoid being doubly insured).

Other Drivers Listed on your Policy: Your joint car insurance policy may have other listed drivers. It may
have listed your teenage children, for example. After a divorce, one spouse’s policy should list the
teenage children or any other named insured. Typically, the parent with majority custody would list any
teenage children on their policy. Or, the parent who continues to live at the original address may list the
children on their policy.

Vehicle Ownership, Title, and Registration: After a divorce, you may need to file for a vehicle title
change in ownership with the state. If you and your spouse previously owned a vehicle jointly, for
example, then you may request a vehicle title change in ownership to reflect one spouse’s sole
ownership of the vehicle.


Removing a Spouse from Car Insurance Before a Divorce


It’s possible to remove a spouse from your insurance policy before a divorce. If you live in separate
homes before being legally divorced, for example, then you may want to separate car insurance even
while legally married.

Things to consider when removing a spouse before a divorce include:

  • If both parties are listed as named insureds on the policy, then you need consent from both
    parties to terminate the insurance policy early (or make significant changes to the insurance
  • Any vehicles with shared titles need to be switched to single ownership titles
  • Both parties need a new auto insurance policy
  • Your new policy should start on the same day your shared policy ends

Should You Put ‘Single’ or ‘Divorced’ on New Car Insurance Applications?


When applying for a new car insurance policy, you may see an area where you can put ‘single’ or
‘divorced’. What should you pick? Which option leads to cheaper car insurance?

Insurance companies do not discriminate against single or divorced people, and there is no difference in
insurance premiums whether you put single or divorced, all other factors being equal.

However, if you put ‘divorced’, your insurer may request information about your date of divorce to
verify you are legally separated. If you are not legally separated, your insurer may need to adjust your


Compare Insurance Premiums After a Divorce and Other Major Life Changes


Insurance premiums vary based on hundreds of factors – including your marital status. That’s why it’s
crucial to compare insurance premiums after a divorce or any other life change.

Your insurer doesn’t care about your love life; instead, your insurer cares about how your divorce
impacts risk.

A divorce impacts risk in ways like:

  • Moving to a new home could change your risk of theft or damage. Some ZIP codes have higher
    rates of car theft than others, while others have high rates of break-ins, accidents, and other
  • One spouse could have a bad credit score, which significantly increases the other driver’s
    insurance premiums. Getting a divorce could lower your insurance premiums if your ex-spouse
    had a bad credit score.
  • One spouse might have a bad driving record – like multiple at-fault accidents, DUIs, and other
    incidents. Getting a divorce could mean qualifying for a safe driving discount or other bonuses.
  • You might drive a different car after a divorce. Instead of having a high-end SUV on your
    insurance, for example, you might have a cheaper, older sedan, which could sharply lower
    insurance premiums.
  • Your insurance needs may change after a divorce. Your children could be listed on your spouse’s
    policy, for example, or you may no longer need medical payments coverage or other coverages.
  • Married couples tend to be less risky to insure than singles – especially at a young age.
    Statistically, married couples in their 20s tend to be less risky to insure than single people in
    their 20s because they cause fewer accidents and make fewer claims. You could pay significantly
    lower insurance premiums as a young married couple. As you get older, and marriage becomes
    more common, this discount becomes less significant.

When insurers calculate premiums for a couple, they consider each driver’s history. Depending on your
spouse’s driving history and other factors, getting a divorce could significantly impact premiums.


Final Word


Car insurance after a divorce may seem complicated, but it’s relatively straightforward.

If you’re living apart from your ex-spouse and your cars are registered at separate addresses, then you
need separate car insurance policies. If you’re living together with your ex-spouse, then you can stay on
the same car insurance policy regardless of whether you’re legally divorced or just separated.

Contact your insurer to verify any requirements after your divorce. Or, compare insurance quotes after
your divorce to ensure you’re paying the cheapest possible premiums.

About the Author:

James Shaffer is a financial analyst and insurance expert based out of New York City. He holds
a bachelor’s degree from Bentley University, and his writing has been featured in places such as
Yahoo, Marketwatch, and Forbes.

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