The next time you size up a potential date, ask yourself: Is this person going to break my car insurance? There's an appropriate level of car insurance for every stage of a relationship. In some cases you'll change things to protect your new love interest. In others, your insurance company will insist. Make sure your policy matches up to your level of commitment. Our simple guide:
Shopping around for a soul mate
You may think handing your car keys to your date to drive you home is no big deal, but it really is - you're handing him or her your policy. You have vicarious liability for anyone you let operate your vehicle. And, since car insurance follows the car, not the driver, it'll be your policy that pays the bills first in an accident. Before letting anyone even get behind the wheel of your car, make sure your policy covers “permissive drivers.” Most do, but the cheap ones might not. If it doesn't, your plus one won't be covered to drive even a couple of blocks in your car. It's wise to also double-check that coverages aren't lowered for permissive users. Some “step-down” policies will cover other drivers, but only with state minimum coverage, even if you have purchased more for yourself. And who's liable if damages exceed the minimum and your new friend doesn't have enough insurance to cover the difference? You are.
You're a couple
This is a bigger commitment than you think. Allowing someone else the frequent use of your vehicle means that person needs to be added to your policy as an “occasional driver.” There may be an additional cost to you. But it means you avoid any step-down provisions that limit coverage after an accident. Moving in together: Both you and your partner need to inform your car insurance companies of the move and new roommate. The address change could affect your rates (for better or worse, depending upon the ZIP code you moved to). It's also likely you'll be required to add each other to the other's policy as a “listed driver.” Your new roomie's driving record could hurt your premiums. You should ask about it first -- really. You don't want to wait for the first renewal statement to find out about a DUI that is going to increase your bill. On the other hand, a flawless driving record could actually lower your rates.