Do Car Insurance Companies Offer 'Married' Discounts to Same-Sex Couples?
At the core of the issue of gay rights, one of the leading social issues in the U.S. today, lies the question: “What’s the definition of marriage?”
And believe it or not, the wide-ranging issue even touches the world of auto insurance.
(Another of our FAQs delves into another leading social issues in America: immigration.)
Recent laws in some states have afforded partners in same-sex marriages certain rights that had been previously exclusive to partners in heterosexual marriages. So most car insurers, in turn, have categorized same-sex relationships similarly to heterosexual ones.
At stake is the discounted "married" rate that legally established couples usually receive, estimated to be roughly around 10 percent.
In this FAQ, we’ll review the benefits of marriage when it comes to auto insurance prices, how married couples can prove to insurers that they deserve a lower rate, and how most car insurers handle pricing a same-sex couple in the same way that they price opposite-sex couples.
The Benefits of Marriage
When we explored the question of pricing in a report, most major insurers said that they “rate same-sex couples as married if they are in a civil union, domestic partnership, or same-sex marriage” and live in a state that recognizes those unions.
Esurance goes a step further. The insurer uses the married rate formula “whether your state offers domestic partnership registration or not.”
However, many of those insurers also told OAI that being rated as a married driver is just one factor in the many that are used in complex pricing formulas. Other factors, most of which carry more weight in the final price of a car policy, include the driver’s history of vehicle accidents, violations, and claims.
There are plenty of benefits from having your insurer recognize your marriage.
To start off with, the 10 percent difference in the cost of auto insurance for a driver who is married, compared to a driver who is single, is a nice benefit.
But there’s more.
Gay couples can take advantage of other savings that come with getting insured together. If the couple has more than one car, they can combine them onto one auto policy for the multi-car discount, which reduces premiums significantly..
In addition, combining home or renter's coverage with auto policies can provide a multi-line discount that can lead to hundreds of dollars in annual savings.
Those discounts can go a long way over time. Saving that money can add up over the years, so drivers who are in a same-sex marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership need to be sure to ask their insurer if they are priced the same way that opposite-sex marriages are priced.
How to Prove Unions, Partnerships, Legal Marriages
In order to receive the reduced rate, the car insurance provider will likely require that the policyholder’s relationship fall under its definition of “marriage,” which most major insurers say hinges on state law. So a car insurer may ask for a marriage license or certificate of the civil union or domestic partnership so that it can apply car insurance pricing under the married rate.
In the News
Auto insurance-related news about the definition of marriage include a 2013 story involving State Farm and a Virginia woman who sought coverage under her wife’s uninsured motor insurance policy after a crash in 2010. Kimberly Tucker took State Farm to court after it refused coverage.
In March 2011, California insurance commissioner Dave Jones announced a change in the application for the Low Cost Auto Insurance Program, allowing applicants to use the word "spouse" on applications. Before the change, the only options were "husband," "wife," or "domestic partner." The state’s insurance regulations should align with the changing definition of marriage, Jones said at the time, adding that "this change to the Low Cost Auto form will ensure that the application process is inclusive for all Californians.”