Watch out for spousal liability coverage added to your auto insurance – WKBW 7 News Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — There’s a new law that went into effect on August 1 that automatically enrolls you in supplemental spousal liability coverage. This coverage is for when a married couple is involved in a car accident. Before August a spouse could not sue their husband or wife to recover money from the partner’s insurance company unless they chose to have this liability insurance on their policy. Under new state law, that exception has become the standard. Drivers will pay the fee whether they’re married or not.
David Kirst, a senior insurance specialist, with AAA said if you’re married in New York State this coverage could help you if you ever get into an accident with your spouse.
“It sounds weird about suing your spouse but sometimes you almost have to do that to get access to additional liability,” Kirst said.
If you’re a driver in New York State and considered single, you can opt out of this.
“You’re probably going to be getting a piece of a paper to sign just saying, ‘I’m opting out of this I do not want this coverage’ but any time you don’t want the coverage now that you are going to have to provide it in writing that you don’t want it,” Kirst said.
You can find the declination form to opt-out here. Depending on when your policy renews within the year, Kirst said your insurance company will either notify you or just add on the coverage.
“It’s important to open up those policy documents when you do get them. take a look and if this is coverage that you do not want sign the form and send it back to your insurance carrier,” he said.
7 News’ Kristen Mirand reached out to state Assemblyman Steve Hawley from Batavia. He’s a realtor and insurance agent by trade. He voted against the bill allowing this automatic coverage enrollment which was once an option.
“This was a bill that was not thought out very well,” he said.
He said people who are considered single may not even be aware of this change
“They’re going to have spousal liability. They’re going to pay the extra premium and this isn’t the insurance companies mandating this, this is the state of New York. They’re going to have spousal liability and it’s never going to be utilized,” Hawley said.
Depending on your policy, Hawley said you’re maybe looking at roughly five dollars added to your monthly bill.
“But still 50, 60 bucks a year is a lot of money for most folks and you want to have a choice of whether you want that or not,” Hawley explained.
Bottom line, you should now keep an eye out when it comes time for your policy renewal, and if you have any questions, Kirst said to reach out to your insurance company.
“So it’s going to be up to you on your renewal just to make sure that you are going through and saying either ‘yes, I want this’ or ‘no, I don’t want this.'”