You can file an insurance claim or sue your spouse (wife or husband) if you are injured in a car accident in New York. Your insurance policy includes Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage on your automobile insurance policy unless you declined it in writing.
Your spouse also needs to be at least partially at fault, but that is almost always easy to show.
Will My Insurance Premium Go Up if I Sue My Husband or Wife?
In New York State, your premium cannot be increased if you file a claim against your spouse or sue your spouse because the claim is between you and your insurance company, not against your spouse. See, If I Sue My Spouse, Will My Insurance Premium Go Up?
Is It Wrong for Me to Sue My Husband or Wife?
Not at all. Your claim is not against your spouse. The claim is against your insurance company. That’s why the insurance premium cannot be increased because of the claim.
Reasons why you should file a claim against your spouse:
- You are really making a claim against your insurance company, not your spouse.
- You won’t be going after your spouse’s money, just your own insurance policy.
- You already paid your insurance company for the right to make a claim for your spouse.
- Your insurance premium cannot be increased because of the claim.
In fact, to sue your husband or wife, your insurance company charges you a separate premium just so they have the money available when you can make that claim.
Why You Are Not Taking Advantage of Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company determines how much money they will have to pay to policyholders who sue a spouse. The insurance company adds the cost of overhead, sales commissions, other risk factors, and desired profit to calculate the premium. If you want to be able to sue your spouse, you will buy that coverage and pay the premium.
Your insurance will have to be involved in the claims process anyway.
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Do I Need Insurance to Sue My Spouse for Causing My Injury in a Car Accident?
In New York, your car insurance includes spousal insurance coverage that will pay you if your spouse, wife, husband, or partner was driving when you were injured in a car accident.
As of August 1, 2023, New York Insurance Law § 3420(g) requires an insurer to provide supplemental spousal liability insurance unless you decline it in writing. Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage must be offered in New York for most motor vehicle insurance policies (where such policy is used for the purposes of satisfying the requirements of Article 6 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law).
If you want to be able to sue your husband or wife for your injury, do not decline Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage on your auto insurance policy. Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage is inexpensive.
How Much Will I Be Charged for Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance Coverage?
Spousal Liability Coverage will increase your New York automobile insurance premium very little, usually from $20 to $80 per year for the coverage.
The amount of the premium increase will depend on many factors. Call your insurance company to find out how much your premium will increase.
This letter shows (circled in red) that the cost of the additional premium for Spousal Liability Insurance that my insurance company, State Farm, will charge is only $15.60 every six months.
Who Should Pay for Supplemental Spousal Liability Coverage?
If you’re married, you should pay the extra premium. If you are married and want Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage, you don’t have to do anything. It will be included in your automobile insurance policy automatically.
Who Should Decline Supplemental Spousal Liability Coverage?
The following people should decline and not pay for Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage:
- Domestic partners or significant others
- Business automobile insurance policies
If you’re single, have a domestic partner or significant other, or have an insurance policy for your business, there is no reason to pay for Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage since you will pay for coverage you can’t use, and you should decline the coverage in writing on the New York State form. Call your insurance company to get the form, or use this New York form to decline Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage.
However, if you later get married, don’t forget to add Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage to your New York automobile insurance policy.
Under current New York State law, if you’re single or you have a policy for your business, and you do not decline Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage in writing, you will pay for coverage you can’t use. If you find you were charged because you didn’t decline Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage, you should demand that your insurance company refund the additional premium since and insurance company cannot charge you for insurance coverage you don’t have. I suspect the New York State law regarding Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage will be amended to correct this injustice.
Domestic partners and significant others could always file a claim or lawsuit against their Domestic partner or significant other and still can. That’s why Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage covers only a legally married spouse (common law marriage is not recognized in New York).
This is the supplemental spousal liability coverage letter that State Farm sent me. Your insurance company will send you a similar letter.
Before January 1, 2003, Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage did not exist, and you could always sue your spouse for your injuries if you were a passenger in a car being driven by your spouse and he or she negligently caused a car accident in New York.
As of January 1, 2003, your insurance company had to provide you a notice of the availability of Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage, an explanation of what it is, and the amount of the additional premium. You had to say you wanted spousal insurance coverage. But now, as mentioned above, New York State changed the law, and you must have spousal insurance coverage unless you decline it.
What Happens if My Spouse Causes an Accident and I Did Not Have Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance?
If you declined Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage and you cause an accident injuring your spouse (husband or wife), your spouse will not be able to be compensated for pain and suffering.
Is My Wife or Husband Entitled to Get Their Medical Bills Paid if I Did Not Have Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance?
Yes. Your spouse is entitled to No-Fault benefits to pay medical bills and lost wages even if you did not buy supplemental spousal liability coverage.
Can My Child Sue for Injury if I Did Not Have Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance?
Yes. Your child or a friend can recover money for injuries, but if you declined Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage, your spouse cannot.
Your Spouse Must Still Be at Least Partially Negligent for Causing Your Accident
The injured spouse must still prove that the spouse who was driving was at least 1% negligent.
Don’t forget, in New York, your premium cannot be increased if you file a claim against your spouse or sue your spouse. See, If I Sue My Spouse, Will My Insurance Premium Go Up?
Supplemental spousal liability insurance merely allows you or your spouse to recover money for injuries as any other injured person could.
Advantages of Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance
One of our clients was a passenger in his car when his wife was driving. He was injured in a hit-and-run accident when the other car fled the accident scene.
Our client got $100,000 from supplemental spousal liability coverage because we were able to prove his wife was partially at fault. If he did not pay for supplemental spousal liability coverage, he would not have been able to get that money.
Does Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance Coverage Increase My Liability Insurance Limit?
No. Supplemental Spousal Liability insurance coverage does not increase liability insurance limits. It only adds another person to the liability coverage.
For example, if your bodily injury coverage limit is $250,000/$500,000 and $100,000 is paid to your spouse, $400,000 is left to pay all other persons injured. But a maximum of $250,000 can be paid to any one person.
Does Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance Coverage Insure Out-of-State Cars?
If you were driving an out-of-state car or were a passenger in an out-of-state car and were injured in a car accident in New York, your insurance policy includes supplemental spousal liability coverage, even if the insurance policy did not include supplemental spousal liability coverage.
This is because out-of-state cars, while being operated in New York, must have the minimum insurance coverage required by New York State.
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