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Can I Have a Different Auto Insurance Policy in Oregon than My Spouse?

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Frequently a customer will call or come in to my office in Oregon and ask for a car insurance quote. Through the process I ask questions about other drivers in the household and discover the client has a wife or husband living in the household as well. The customer will often state that the spouse has his or her own insurance and wants to keep the policies separate.

Here is a perfect example of why you should insure all drivers and cars under the same policy in the household:

A man has an insurance policy with Safeco Insurance. His wife has a policy with Kemper. Backing out of the driveway he collides with his wife's car. He reports the claim to Safeco Insurance and the claim is denied due to a clause in their policy that doesn't allow them to pay for claims when a driver causes damage to one of his own vehicles parked on his own property. The driver's wife then reports the claim to Kemper and the damages are paid less a deductible. However, Kemper now must pursue legal action against their insured's husband to seek reimbursement and to collect the deductible amount the wife had to pay.

Whenever you mix like car insurance policies from different Oregon insurance companies in the same household you run the risk of denial of a claim or complicating factors. To avoid affecting the rates or coverage for one member of the household by having a higher risk driver obtain other auto insurance with less coverage may in the end cost you more. The limits may be different. The coverage may be different. The confusion after an automobile accident in Oregon may cause delays in settlement of your claim if the two Oregon auto insurance companies have to spend extra time sorting out who was covered and under what car.

Perhaps you have a legal document such as a pre-nuptual agreement which calls for all assets and liabilities of the parties to be kept separate. I have yet to find among the customers carrying separate policies that such an agreement is in place. Even though your car is registered with the DMV and your spouse has his/her car registered separately and you are not joint owners of either car, that doesn't prevent you, if you are married, from being responsible for the damage and injury your spouse may cause. Just the fact you are married may lead to your assets being called in to satisfy a judgment after your spouse causes extensive injury or accident to another party and the limits of the policy have been exceeded.

If you truly want to find a way to protect yourself legally from the actions of your spouse you should seek legal advice and draw up the proper forms prior to embarking in the course of marriage. If you are already married, it's a little more complicated since you probably have already mixed liabilities, debt, and assets. Meanwhile, you can take advantage of cost savings by including all vehicles under one policy, listing all the drivers of the household and investigating carefully the limits of coverage you carry. That way you avoid the nightmare of pulling two companies into the investigation and running the risk in the end that neither of them want to pay.

Talk to your independent Oregon agent before making a decision to obtain a separate policy from others living in your same household. We can help you solve that problem easier than you may think!

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