Spousal liability coverage should be purchased by married couples.
Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage allows one spouse to sue the other spouse in an auto accident. Without this option, there is no insurance coverage for one spouse suing the other.
For example, assume that Mary was driving her car, and her husband, John, was the passenger. Mary went through a red light, and her vehicle was in a collision. With Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage, John could sue Mary for his injuries. Their automobile insurance policy would cover Mary, and John would be able to recover from their insurance. However, if no such coverage were purchased, then the insurance company would not cover Mary for a claim or suit. Effectively, John would have no recovery.
Supplemental Sousal Liability coverage is a recent development. The Insurance Law prohibits an insurance carrier from insuring one spouse against the other’s claim. It was thought that there would be collusion between the spouses and that inter-spousal suits would hurt family unity. This was a hold-over when there was immunity from inter-spousal lawsuits. The law was changed so that such coverage is optional and can be purchased.
About 17 years ago a potential client came to us. She was cooking on an outdoor barbeque. Her husband mistakenly backed the car into her so that she fell onto the barbeque. She suffered serious burns. Unfortunately, we could not take the case by reason of the lack of coverage in a wife versus husband case. At that time Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage was not available. However, if it were 2008 and if the couple purchased the supplement, the wife could recover for her husband’s negligence.
This extra coverage only costs a few dollars more. It is well worth it to insure that your spouse is able to secure a recovery.
In a prior post, Part I–Buying OBEL Coverage, we discussed that for only $9 more a policyholder could secure an additional $25,000 coverage for medical and lost income.
We recommend that when you buy or renew your insurance that you discuss all available, extra options so that you can maximize protection for you, your family, and friends.
If you have a question about an accident and your insurance coverage, please call me at 800-581-1434.
Mark E. Seitelman, 12/17/08, www.seitelman.com.