What to Know About Car Insurance After a Divorce

Quick Answer

Divorce often requires changing insurance policies. If you and your ex-spouse shared auto insurance, you’ll need to get your own policy, though there are some rules and pitfalls to be aware of—especially if you have kids or will remain in the same home.

A woman in her car dropping her child off to her ex husband.

Going through a divorce isn't just full of emotional and logistical challenges; it involves many financial decisions that can take time to think through. If you're newly divorced or preparing for one, the question of what to do with your current car insurance policy has likely popped up.

Some insurance companies allow you to essentially split one policy into two, though most require you to cancel the existing policy and get new, separate policies. Here's what you need to know about the costs, timing and rules around handling car insurance after a divorce.

Key Considerations for Car Insurance After a Divorce

When you're getting divorced, what happens to your car insurance may not be top of mind. But it's important to understand your options and the financial and legal repercussions.

You typically need to notify your insurer soon after the divorce is final. Even before the final paperwork is signed, however, it can be helpful to call them to talk through your options and understand any requirements. Here are some factors to consider as you begin the process:

Your Living Situation Affects Policy Needs

When you're married and your cars are kept at the same residence, you're often required to share one car insurance policy. Once you divorce, your options are determined by your living situation and where the cars will be parked overnight.

If you plan to continue living together after you're legally separated or divorced, you have the option of switching to separate policies or staying on one together since your cars are garaged at the same residence. Staying on the same plan can mean keeping existing discounts, but it could be too financially messy.

If you move apart, whether the divorce is final or not, you'll need to get your own separate policies since the cars are no longer being parked at the same residence. Once you or your ex moves out, update the address for each of the cars on your policy right away.

Costs Will Likely Increase

Prepare for higher premiums when you no longer share a policy with your ex-spouse. Some insurers charge lower rates to married customers, and many offer discounts for insuring more than one vehicle. When you divorce and switch to an individual policy, you may lose the multi-car discount.

If you no longer need any other insurance policies you hold with the insurer (such as life or homeowners insurance) as a result of the divorce, you'll lose bundling discounts. If you qualified for any additional discounts through your spouse, you'll have to account for those disappearing too.

Teen Drivers Have Options

If you have teen drivers who were on your joint policy, you'll need to determine what to do post-divorce.

Options can vary depending on whether the teen drives parent-owned vehicles or has their own car. If you have joint custody and the teen regularly drives both parents' cars, the teen should ideally be on both parents' new individual policies. In cases where the teen only uses a parent's car on the rare occasion—less than once a month—they may not need to be on that policy.

If your kiddo has their own car, they typically only need to be on the auto insurance policy of the parent who has custody or whichever parent they live with most of the time. However, some insurers may require the teen to be on both parents' policies if they plan to park their car at each residence regularly. Your divorce decree should include who will pay for your children's car insurance.

Note: If the car is titled in your child's name, they'll need their own insurance policy.

There Can Be Legal Pitfalls

If you and your ex are still "named insured" on the same policy, and they get in an accident and are sued, you're still legally and financially at risk. When you no longer share a policy, you no longer have any liability for what your spouse does.

Once you decide who's keeping each car, remove the other driver from the car's registration and title. Make sure you're removed from the title and registration from your ex's car so you don't have any responsibility.

Can You Remove a Spouse From Car Insurance Before a Divorce?

If you and your spouse are both named on your car insurance policy, you can't change the policy on your own. Insurers won't allow you to remove your soon-to-be ex from your current car insurance, or cancel your shared policy, without their approval.

This might mean your spouse has to contact the insurance company to provide consent, though you may be able to just provide the insurer proof your ex no longer lives at your residence.

Either way, you shouldn't cancel your policies until you've both bought new ones. Make sure to have the new policy start on or before your shared policy ends so you have no gap in coverage.

How Long Can a Spouse Stay on Insurance After a Divorce?

Your spouse can stay on your insurance policy after a divorce indefinitely, as long as you and the vehicles remain at the same residence. As soon as one of you moves out and the car will be parked at another residence, that person needs their own policy.

Is It Better to Put "Single" or "Divorced" on a Car Insurance Application?

After a divorce, it's your choice whether to put single or divorced as your marital status. There usually isn't a difference in rates between the two. Being married can result in discounts, but being single or divorced are effectively the same when it comes to auto insurance premiums.

How to Save Money on Car Insurance

From paying legal fees to losing someone to split bills with, divorce can leave your finances in a tight spot. As you look to buy your own insurance post-divorce, here are some ways to save on a new car insurance policy:

  • Adjust your coverage. If your car is totaled and you have collision and comprehensive coverage, your insurer will pay you for the car's current value—not what you paid for it. So if you drive an older car you own outright, and it's totaled, your insurance payout may not be enough to buy a new car. You could save money by canceling that extra coverage, saving the difference to purchase a newer car (just know you could be on the hook for repairs or replacement if you do have an accident). Check your current policy to see if there are any unnecessary add-ons you're not utilizing and can save money by canceling.
  • Adjust your deductible. Insurance is a balance of risk since you can't predict if you'll ever need to file a claim. The higher your premiums, the lower your deductible—the amount you owe out-of-pocket before insurance pays. Conversely, lower premiums come with a higher deductible. It's your decision whether to spend less money now and risk a larger bill upon a claim, or pay more now to avoid a steep bill later. If you're comfortable with the risk of a future large expense, especially if you have an emergency fund, it could be worth reducing your deductible for short-term savings.
  • Seek other discounts. You may have lost your multi-car discount, but companies usually offer car insurance discounts for many other reasons, including:

    • Bundling multiple policies: Nab a bundling discount by using the same company for auto insurance as you do for other policies you'll need to switch post-divorce like life, homeowners or renters insurance.
    • Driving safely: Some insurers offer discounts for having a certain number of years without accidents, or using an app that reduces rates for safe driving.
    • Paying upfront: Monthly payments might work best for your budget, but insurers usually reduce premiums if you pay them upfront (it could be quarterly or annually). They may also offer discounts for signing up for autopay.
    • Going digital: You could find lower rates for getting a quote online, purchasing a policy online and opting into paperless statements.
  • Shop around. Sticking with the same auto insurer might mean leaving cash on the table if you can get a cheaper rate elsewhere. You can compare car insurance quotes for free through Experian to find the best deal.

Shop Around for the Best Prices

Getting divorced means a laundry list of to-dos, and one of them will likely be changing your car insurance policy. If you haven't shopped for a new policy in a while, comparing premium prices across multiple insurers when buying your new policy can save you a healthy amount of money.