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The death of a loved one is a time of sorrow and confusion. Trying to sort out various legal and financial affairs on behalf of the decedent while grappling with strong personal emotions is an exhausting situation. What becomes of the car and the corresponding car insurance that belonged to the recently departed can vary depending on who the remaining relatives are, if any, and what policies an auto insurance company has regarding the death of policyholders.
If a spouse passes away, their home and car automatically transfer to their estate which is often in turn inherited by the surviving spouse. If the married couple shared an auto insurance policy, the car insurance company will typically transfer the policy to the living partner per the surviving spouse provision written into the auto insurance contract. Keep in mind that the specifics of the surviving spouse provision may vary across providers, so make sure to confirm the policy at the specific company.
Either the spouse or executor should contact the insurance provider as soon as possible to alert them to the death of the primary policyholder. To complete the auto insurance policy transfer, car insurance providers require a death certificate, executor of estate documents, or a probate form. It is possible that the remaining partner may see a change in the insurance premium, particularly if there were certain discounts available based exclusively on the driving history of the deceased. If the widow or widower cannot afford the new car insurance premium, they should consider shopping for a new car insurance policy.
However, if the decedent held a separate policy from the remaining spouse, the process may be more complicated. Because the auto insurance provider has a contractual obligation to uphold the policy for the named insured, they will require extensive proof of the death of the person, including the documents previously listed, plus, sometimes, additional information.
Regardless of whether both members of the couple were on the auto insurance policy or not, the spouse should contact the car insurance provider to let them know about the death and to discuss what policy options are available.
If a widow or widower dies and leaves behind living adult children, one of the remaining heirs (preferably the one identified as the legal representative for the estate) should contact the car insurance company to inform them of the death. Until the legal representative for the family determines the ultimate fate of the vehicle, the immediate family should not drive the vehicle. Occasional driver provisions that might have provided coverage to adult children driving the vehicle are terminated upon the death of the parent. If one of the children decides to keep the vehicle, they must contact the car insurance provider to terminate the existing policy and create a new policy. A visit to the local department of motor vehicles will be necessary to transfer the vehicle tags and license plates to the new owner.
When a single policyholder dies and leaves behind a vehicle, the executor of the estate and/or the remaining family needs to determine whether someone will continue to drive the left behind the vehicle or if the vehicle will no longer be used in perpetuity. The executor should contact the auto insurance provider to alert them to death. While many auto insurance providers terminate single driver policies upon the death of the driver, companies are often sympathetic and will allow coverage to continue for a brief amount of time while the executor sorts out details regarding the vehicle. However, this coverage may be limited exclusively to the executor and only for the purpose of maintaining the vehicle and/or to better the estate, so the vehicle couldn’t be driven for personal use by the legal representative. The limited insurance allotted to the legal representative in these specific use cases is referred to as the “legal responsibility to maintain and use the vehicle”. Other individuals should avoid driving the vehicle until the title is transferred and a new policy established under the new owner. If a friend or family member drives the vehicle before the transfer is completed and gets into a vehicle collision, the estate or executor may be liable for any damages resulting from the accident.
If the deceased’s vehicle will no longer be driven, the executor should contact the auto insurance provider to terminate the policy and return the registration tags and license plates to the state motor vehicle department. If the vehicle is to be sold, relevant parties should make sure that the probate system hasn’t impacted the titling of the vehicle. Both buyers and sellers should make sure the vehicle isn’t included in a probated estate because the vehicle may have been willed to a different individual than the seller or the vehicle may be liable to liquidation to pay outstanding debts.
Multiple situations can play out when it comes to auto insurance after death. The more detailed descriptions of what can happen in this article can be a big help, but keep in mind that if somebody is continuing to drive the vehicle or inherits the vehicle, they will need to have an auto insurance policy on it with their name. You can find the best prices for car insurance available using the free quote tools for insurance on this website. Comparing prices from multiple companies is the best way to save. In some cases, the entire estate will need to be resolved before purchasing a policy. Most of the responsibility for figuring out what to do with the vehicle is stated in the will and/or determined by the executor of the estate.
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