Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Aug 6, 2021

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Key takeaways...

  • When you combine your insurance with someone in your household, you’ll receive multi-line and multi-car discounts
  • Some insurance companies will only give insureds a discount if they are married or related by blood
  • If you’re not married to your partner but you live in the same household, you may be able to buy joint insurance
  • Ask your agent to see if you’re required to have the vehicles registered in both names for joint car insurance
  • It’s important to list the names the right way to protect yourself if you ever need to file a claim

Buying joint car insurance can save you more money than you might realize. If you’re living together and planning to get married soon, some insurance companies will let you start saving now. Most newlyweds spend a good deal of time changing their financial information once they get settled into their marital home. But why wait?

One of the changes that are often made is to combine policies in each insurance portfolio so that the couple can save money. Auto insurance is a huge focus.

While some couples still believe in traditional marriage, the marriage rate in the country is at an all-time low. As more and more people shed the traditional values of marriage, couples have started moving in with one another without first tying the knot. Some end up in common law marriages after filing taxes together and otherwise behaving like a married couple. Others prefer to keep their taxes and finances separate.

This increase in unmarried couples living together creates new challenges when it comes to sharing a life together, and one of the challenges is structuring your auto insurance.

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Are you legally liable when your partner crashes their own car?

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If you live in a state with community property laws, married spouses can be held accountable for debts and liabilities when the property is acquired during the marriage. If there’s an accident in a car that’s owned by either spouse, both of the spouses can be held responsible for damages sustained by others.

If you and your partner aren’t married, you can’t be held legally accountable for an accident that they have.

You could live together, share your living expenses, and even share a bank account. You still don’t have to pay for damages that the other spouse causes in their own car as long as you’re not on the title.

If you’re sharing an auto insurance policy and your partner has a bad driving record, your rates could increase substantially. You should research this before you combine your policies. Once you combine policies, you could lose discounts and pay more for your solo policy if you have to switch back.

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What happens if you’re both on the title or the registration?

When a car is titled in your name, it means that you’re the legal owner. You must pay taxes when applicable and you must pay for damages caused in the car. This could include damages if your car hits another car while you’re not driving. It depends on the circumstances.

The registered owner and title holder typically match, but when a car is being leased or privately financed, these names could be separate as long as there’s a valid contract in place. It’s common for married couples to buy things like a car together.

If you’re not married to your significant other but you’ve decided to register or title a vehicle in both of your names, you could both be held accountable for damaging property or injuring people while driving the car.

It doesn’t matter who’s behind the wheel when the accident happens either. The victim has the legal right to sue all legal owners. Of course, this type of liability is generally negated as long as you have enough liability insurance.

Are you allowed to buy insurance with your significant other?

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Years ago, insurance carriers required couples to be married before they would sell joint policies to applicants living together. Now that marriage isn’t necessarily the norm, companies are changing their guidelines to offer their clients greater flexibility.

How Much Auto Insurance Coverage Do You Need?

If you have separate policies, keep in mind, they don’t combine to create more coverage. Your coverage is limited to the limits on each policy individually. If you combine your policies, you each get the benefit of the chosen coverage. It only pays once on any single accident.

State minimums are generally meant to cover small fender benders. If the accident is within these limits, you cannot be sued generally speaking. The problem is when you get into a bigger accident. More people have increased their limits to 100/300 (100,000/300,000 limits). Some drivers have also opted for a single combined limit that increases your overall liability coverage for lower auto insurance rates.

Ultimately, the amount of coverage you need is up to you. If you want to combine your policy with your partner, married or not, you need to at least live in the same household. Many people compare their current costs with combined insurance to see if separate car insurance policies are more expensive. Always get multiple quotes to compare your options when you’re shopping.

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What are the requirements when you buy a car with your partner?

If you’re shopping around for a new car and you and your partner want to purchase it together, you need to start restructuring your insurance portfolio first.

You want to look at financing and how much that will cost but you’ll also have to look at the impact that buying insurance together will have on your rating.

You must have insurance in both your name and your significant other’s name when you buy the car together.

The named insureds on your policy and the names listed on the registration have to match so that your insurance is accepted by the state. Failing to set the insurance up so that it matches legal titling paperwork could lead to some serious fines.

What should you do if you’re buying a car with your partner?

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If you already have insurance in your name and your partner isn’t a driver on the policy, you’ll have to consider adding them as an insured to contract so that you can satisfy the law.

When both partners in the relationship have their own insurance, they must price the cost of coverage through both insurers to see which policy you should keep.

When both policies seem like they are too expensive, you can start to get quotes for insurance on the new co-owned vehicle through other carriers.

Sometimes, there are insurers that you haven’t even done business with that will offer you better rates for a joint policy. Getting a bunch of quotes before you combine an existing policy is best.

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Why is important to put thought into buying a joint policy?

Insurance requirements for co-owned vehicles make it easier to buy joint policies, but you still have the option to pursue getting a joint car insurance policy if both you and your partner have your own cars.

You’ll have to live in the same household, but you will be able to join your insurance when you find the right provider.

The question isn’t whether or not you can buy a joint plan, the question is how the plan needs to be structured.

You could put yourself at risk if you jump at the opportunity to buy joint car insurance and you don’t think of potential pitfalls if you and your partner decide to part ways. The structure is key.

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How should you structure a policy if you don’t co-own cars?

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Named insureds are listed side by side on an insurance contract. They are both equally liable for paying premiums and making changes to the policy.

They are also both entitled to receive claims payments under the policy when a claim is filed and an offer is accepted. Claims are where there’s potential for messing up the structure of the policy.

If you request that the insurer put the word “and” between both named insureds, the claims check will be issued just like that. It will say your name and your partner’s name, which means both parties have to sign off on the check before it can be cashed.

Choosing the word “or” would allow you to cash a claims check with only one signature, which is better if the two of you ever have a bad split.

What are the benefits of getting joint car insurance?

When you see that there are unexpected risks that rear their head when you get joint insurance, it could influence you to keep insurance on your own.

Keeping your own insurance might be wise if you don’t trust your partner, but most reasonable people won’t stay in a relationship with someone that they don’t trust.

There are a lot of advantages to buying insurance with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you want to drive the cost of your insurance down, the best way to do that is to get a joint policy.

Here are some of the benefits to joint car insurance that you may have never considered:

You’ll Get a Multi-car Discount

If you only own one car, you’re paying a full single-car rate. When there are two or more policies on a plan, each car will get a discounted multi-car rate that can significantly change your premiums and lower your total insurance expense.

You May Get a Multi-line Discount

If you’re carrying insurance through a provider that offers other types of Property and Casualty or health insurance, you should combine more than one plan with that carrier for savings.

Having a home, renter’s, condo, life, or disability plan in either insured’s name can save you money off of your auto insurance.

Get Credit for Prior Insurance

If you just recently took insurance out in your name, you’re probably being charged a high-risk rate. You have to have at least six months of prior insurance to get out of the high-risk class.

When you choose joint insurance, you’ll get the prior insurance credits that your partner qualifies for.

Get Loyalty Discounts You Didn’t Get Before

Switching from carrier to carrier can save you immediate money, but sometimes it pays to stay. Writing new insurance policies costs insurers money. Since clients aren’t as loyal as they once were, more companies are offering large loyalty discounts.

These discounts grow over the years and named insureds added later can still get the discount.

It’s More Convenient to Pay for Joint Insurance

Making separate payments to cover all of your cars isn’t convenient. If you have different renewal dates, it can be hard to remember when bills are due and when to look out for new paperwork.

Avoid making late payments or losing your insurance because you can’t juggle all of the different dates and get a joint plan.

Change Your Insurance All At Once

When you move to a new address, you change jobs, or you change your bank account, you need to call your carrier to endorse your policy. Calling two or more companies to make changes isn’t convenient. With one policy, you can make all of your changes in one contact.

Get Higher Limits of Liability for Less

With all of the discounts you’re getting for combining your insurance, you’ll be able to consider buying more protection without paying more out of pocket. By raising your limits, you’re better protected while you’re driving and less likely to have a loss where you’re under-insured.

Avoid Having Coverage Issues

If you and your partner borrow each others’ cars, it can pose coverage problems with your insurer. The insurer can’t charge you for your household partner if you’re not married and they have their own coverage, but there’s always a risk of having a claims problem.

When you combine insurance, you don’t have to worry when the two of you borrow each others’ cars.

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Would my rates go down even more if we got married?

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Combining your insurance will help you save money, but your rates may go down even more if you and your boyfriend or girlfriend decide that it’s time to get married. Marital status is a rating factor that will affect your personal rates.

Single drivers pay more than those with a married classification. It’s best to update your policy if you ever tie the knot.

The difference is a lot different for married males who are under 30 because there’s much less risk for drivers in this risky class. As you age, the difference will start to decline.

You don’t have to be married to buy a car together so you don’t have to be married to buy insurance together. If you’re tired of paying costly insurance premiums as a single driver, it’s time to look at the cost of a joint policy.

Don’t just look at the cost of your existing policy.

You should go beyond that and get online quotes for coverage through other companies to see if joint coverage costs less elsewhere. Get quotes right now using our free comparison tool.