Although car insurance and divorce do not appear to be related concepts at first blush, in our experience as Georgia divorce attorneys, car insurance is often the most overlooked aspect of Georgia divorce that has the potential to negatively impact both parties post-divorce.
Car insurance is relevant to divorce in that just as the marital home and other marital property must be divided upon divorce, vehicles must be apportioned between the spouses upon divorce as well. And, the apportionment of vehicles between spouses upon divorce usually necessitates modifying the insurance policy or policies covering the vehicles. However, because of the other important issues that must be considered and resolved during the divorce process, many couples fail to make or even consider the necessary policy changes until problems arise post-divorce. If you are considering divorce in Georgia, or if you are currently going through the divorce process, take the time to review the following considerations regarding modifying car insurance coverage upon divorce.
- You and your spouse should discuss which of you will maintain the existing policy. If you and your soon to be ex-spouse share a car insurance policy, one of you may choose to maintain the existing policy. In this event, the other spouse will need to obtain a new insurance policy before being removed from the original policy. Regardless of which spouse chooses to obtain a new policy, it is imperative for that spouse to make sure the new policy is in effect before he or she is removed from the old policy to avoid a gap in coverage.
- You may need your spouse’s consent to remove him or her from the auto policy. Many insurers require a signed consent form before removing a named insured from an auto policy. Without the signed consent form, the person keeping the auto policy will not be able to remove the other spouse’s name from the policy, and must thus continue paying for a policy which lists both drivers. In such a situation in which one of the insured spouses refuses to cooperate in separating policies, the uncooperative spouse may be left on the policy, allowing the other spouse to obtain a new policy and sign the removal consent form.
- Your coverage, limit and deductible needs may change post-divorce. Financial circumstances often change after divorce. With this being said, car insurance premiums and deductibles that were once affordable may no longer be feasible post-divorce. Reevaluating coverage limits, deductibles and premium costs post-divorce and comparing quotes from several companies is advisable to determine if changes in coverage are necessary.
- Your divorce may affect your car insurance premium. In addition to potentially effecting a spouse’s financial circumstances, divorce may also have a more direct impact on car insurance premiums. For example, discounts that normally enjoyed by married couples, such as multi-car discounts or homeowner’s discounts may be lost upon divorce. Additionally, driving records and vehicle values also impact premium costs. For example, if your ex-spouse had a spotless driving history and you did not, your rate may rise when you remove the ex from your policy. Alternatively, if your spouse takes the more valuable vehicle in the divorce, and leaves you with the less valuable vehicle, your comprehensive and collision coverage costs should decrease.
- If your address changes post-divorce, be sure to inform your insurer. If you move to a new state or town, be sure to update your address with your insurance provider. This is important because your new location may impact your car insurance premium. For example, if you move to an urban area with a high risk of theft, your rates might go up to account for the increased risk. Alternatively, if you are moving from a city to a more rural area with less crime, you might see a corresponding drop in your premium. Additionally, each state has its own rules and regulations concerning the mandated amount of car insurance coverage. Thus, it is important to notify your insurance carrier if you move out of state to ensure your coverage meets all requirements.
- Insuring your children may pose additional concerns. If you and your ex-spouse have driving age children, you should ensure that your children are covered on at least one, if not both parents’ auto policies, especially if your children have access to both parents’ cars. If your children have their own vehicles, then these vehicles are generally registered and insured in the name of the parent in whose home the children reside most frequently. These issues are not always clear-cut, especially if custody is shared relatively equally between both parents. In this event, questions concerning which parent should be responsible for a child’s car insurance needs may become particularity complex. In such a situation, it is best to seek the advice of a Georgia divorce attorney and an auto insurance agent to determine which coverage structure is most appropriate.