Insurance law creates opt-out provision for spousal liability coverage
It used to be that you had to opt-in if you wanted your spouse to be covered in case you caused an accident; a new New York law makes it the opposite.
If you’re a New York driver, your car insurance might have recently become a little more expensive.
That’s because a law became effective in August 2023 that automatically includes supplemental spousal liability coverage on all auto insurance policies in New York State.
What is supplemental spousal liability coverage?
Supplemental spousal liability insurance provides bodily injury liability coverage if you are injured in an accident in which your spouse is at fault. In other words, if you’re the passenger and your spouse is the driver, and your spouse’s negligence causes an accident, you can receive insurance coverage from your own insurer for your expenses related to the crash.
The coverage costs between $20 and $84 for most New York insurance companies. A driver may opt out of this coverage.
Note about unmarried drivers:
This is now included by default on all New York auto insurance policies, even if you are not married. If you are not married or wish to opt out, you must ask your insurer to remove the coverage.
Is the new law advantageous to married people?
Each New York driver and passenger—which includes spouses—has New York no-fault coverage up to $50,000 for medical care and wage loss, regardless of who was at fault for a crash.
Read more: You can read more here about New York insurance laws and guidelines.
However, if a passenger is seriously injured with their spouse driving, if the costs for their medical treatment and other expenses (including pain and suffering) exceed the no-fault insurance policy limits, then the new supplemental spousal coverage allows the injured spouse to use the additional liability insurance in addition to their no-fault benefits.
Does that mean you’re suing your own spouse?
Technically, yes. But it doesn’t have to get ugly—it’s just for the purpose of getting compensation for your personal injury losses.
In essence, what the new law does is have policyholders opt out of the coverage, rather than having to opt in... which many didn’t even know they could do.
If you’re a New York resident, you should be notified by your insurance company about the policy changes. If you have questions about the policy, you can contact your insurance agent. However, if you’ve been in an accident and are wondering if this affects you (or your spouse), you might wish to seek the guidance of a personal injury lawyer.