Marrying a Bad Driver: How Do You Keep Your Premium Low?

By Dave Webb
Cheerful couple inside a car

Ah, true love. It is the most wonderful thing in the world to meet your soulmate, the one you want to wake up with every morning. But when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, there’s a good chance your beloved’s driving record isn’t high on the list of priorities for sculpting a relationship.

Fortunately, for the most part, your newly hitched marital status can decrease your car insurance premium. Despite all the technology that can give a more accurate picture of driving habits, the actuarial model is still king. Insurers have used it for decades. And statistics say that married couples, especially men, develop safer driving habits and drive more family-friendly cars that are safer in general and not oriented toward aggressive driving. (This is true in Ontario, though some Canadian provinces, like Nova Scotia, have outlawed the practice.)

Most couples combine their auto insurance policies, since they’ll likely be sharing vehicles and are looking for a better rate. But what if you didn’t realize your partner is a train wreck behind the wheel and has a string of at-fault accidents, suspensions, and speeding tickets?

Some strategies can help minimize your premium, including:

Multi-vehicle discount

Combining the ownership and insurance policies on multiple cars can save money. While the combined rate may be higher than the safer partner’s premium, it would save money over the poorer driver’s policy. Bear in mind, also, that insurers may take into consideration the record of every driver living at the same home, so merely having separate policies might not make for much of a savings.

Excluding a driver

If your partner (it’s always your partner, never you, right?) has a driving record that is so unspeakable, it’s impossible to get affordable insurance, excluding them from your policy might be an approach.

That means your partner cannot drive your car or your insurance will be void. You must sign a legal document attesting to this. And if your partner’s record is that bad, his or her insurance may make driving impractical for him or her. There may be some more affordable options, like usage-based insurance, but your partner could be sidelined from driving, which could cause marital tension. That should be a last-ditch (pun intended) solution.

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Bundling your home and auto policies

There’s an old English proverb: What you lose on the swings, you make up on the roundabout.

Essentially, if one thing costs you more, it may result in something else costing less. If both partners keep their auto policies and purchase a home policy from the same provider, they may find that they’ve saved enough on their home policy to almost offset the increase in car insurance.

Accident forgiveness

If both partners have an accident forgiveness clause in their contracts, they will escape one at-fault accident — their first — without it complicating their records. So you don’t face a premium increase for that one time you tapped a fire hydrant trying to leave the mall (what was it doing there in the first place?). That doesn’t excuse speeding tickets, careless driving, or other sins on the roadway, but it’s a good idea anyway if the rate is affordable. They’re called accidents for a reason. Everybody has them.

Make driving safely a priority

Obeying the rules of the road and making safe driving a priority is the one part of the premium equation you can control.

Red lights are not a suggestion. Neither are any of the rules of the road. Abiding by them keeps your insurance rate lower. Don’t abide by them, and that record will follow you for a long time — tickets will stay on your driving record for at least three years, accidents for six years. If you haven’t taken a drivers’ education course, it’s a good idea. No matter how long you’ve been driving, a course teaches driving strategies to keep you safe and out of trouble — and can reduce your premium.

Married? Single? On a break? Whatever your status, make sure you’re getting the best rate on auto insurance by taking a few minutes to compare quotes.