It’s rumored that George Washington once proclaimed in a letter, “I have always considered marriage the most interesting event of one’s life, the foundation of happiness or misery.”

Whether or not our founding father was right about marriage being the foundation of happiness or misery, it’s true that marriage can provide a foundation for your auto insurance rates.

If you’ve searched for an insurance quote recently, you know that insurance companies are curious about your marital status. There’s a complicated relationship between tying the knot and paying your annual premium, but here are four facts to help you understand the connection...and get the best deal.

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1. Married People Have Lower Car Insurance Rates

Michael Barry, Vice President of Media Relations at the Insurance Information Institute, confirms that “auto insurers have found that married couples are less likely to file claims than single policyholders, giving an actuarial justification to offering lower rates to married drivers.”

It turns out that married people get in fewer accidents than single people. While the exact reason why is hard to pin down, there are a few factors that could play into the decreased rate of filing claims:

  • Children. Married people may have more incentive to drive carefully when they’re transporting precious cargo.
  • Lifestyle. Settling down could also translate to a safer driving record.
  • Location. Relocating to more family-oriented areas is sometimes correlated to less dangerous driving conditions, and therefore cheaper car insurance rates.
married couple talking in car
(via Sam and Nia)

2. Combining Coverage Doesn’t Always Save

While combining coverage with your spouse typically results in savings, if one of you has a poor insurance record, the discounts might not develop as planned.

As a general rule, do combine if both halves of the marriage have good driving records. Simply insuring multiple cars on one policy could result in multi-car discounts or other savings.

Getting hitched, however, doesn’t mean that an insurance company will forget one individual’s history if half of the marriage has a spotty insurance record. Verify whether it will be cheaper to remain on separate policies before making the shift.

Barry recommends that married couples stick to the same insurance policy, even if one party has a less-than-stellar record, since they may be sharing one or more vehicles.

3. You Can Still Qualify for Marriage Benefits if You’re in a Civil Union

Civil unions can often receive the same auto insurance benefits as married couples, depending on “the laws in each particular state,” according to Barry.

Some states ensure that civil unions receive the same benefits as marriage, car insurance discounts included.

Certain insurance companies also take care to give civil unions the same discounts as marriages.

4. If Your Marriage Ends in Divorce, Your Insurance Benefits End, Too

Unfortunately, a divorce also means separation from whatever insurance benefits you enjoyed as a couple.

What changes to your car insurance rates can you expect to see after a divorce?

“A divorced person can expect to see their premium cost change, perhaps going higher, as an auto insurer prices the risk of a single person differently than a married one,” Barry explains. “This increase can, however, be offset if this same person moves closer to their place of employment, and can qualify for a low-mileage discount (e.g., driving no more than 7,500 miles a year).”

In the case of a split, there are a few additional things to remember about separating the car insurance:

  • Someone can’t be removed from a joint policy without consent
  • Someone will need to get a new policy
  • The new policy should be purchased before the person is removed from the former policy

Finding and keeping a life partner can result in added perks when it comes time to pay your car insurance premium. But if you’re single, fear not: there are plenty of other ways to save on car insurance.

Photo credit (top image): Mike KlineRichard RileyLuciano Meirelles