Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance: A Crucial Safeguard in Car Accident Claims
Car accidents are a common occurrence, and when they happen, they can lead to severe financial, physical, and emotional consequences. While auto insurance policies typically cover damages and injuries sustained by strangers, there is one aspect that often goes overlooked – when one spouse negligently injures the other. To mitigate this risk, supplemental spousal liability insurance (“SSLI”) has emerged as a crucial safeguard in car accident claims when one spouse is injured or killed in an auto accident caused by the other spouse. In this post, we briefly review the importance of this insurance coverage and explore how it can protect individuals and families in the event of an accident.
Understanding Spousal Liability
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident while your spouse was driving and your spouse is at fault, how will you be compensated for your injuries? This is where SSLI applies. Your own auto insurance policy may cover the injuries that you sustained even if they were caused by your spouse’s negligence. In New York State, if you do not have this supplemental spousal liability insurance coverage on your policy, the insurance company might not have to pay the claim for your bodily injuries.
A Key Change in New York Law
New York State will soon require that insurance companies provide policyholders with supplemental spousal liability insurance coverage equal to bodily injury liability coverage, unless the insured specifically rejects such coverage in writing. As such, your spouse will have SSLI coverage under your policy. The recent bill amended the state's insurance law to prevent insurance consumers from unknowingly waiving supplemental spousal liability insurance coverage, which insurance companies routinely did in the past. The change was signed into law to protect a spouse in these unfortunate situations from being left with an undue burden after a life-altering accident.
Drivers still have the option to opt out of this coverage in writing and would not be required to pay for this additional coverage if they do not want to. However, drivers should be cautious of this as supplemental spousal liability coverage is important, and people often drive with their spouses in the car. The change covers all policies issued, renewed, or modified on or after August 1, 2023. The law is also set to expire on July 31, 2027, unless a new law is enacted to modify or extend it.
Choosing the Right Insurance Coverage
When selecting supplemental spousal liability insurance, it is essential to carefully evaluate coverage options. Consider factors such as: policy limits, deductibles, additional benefits, and the insurer's reputation for handling claims. Working with an experienced insurance agent or attorney can help you navigate the complex landscape of insurance coverage and ensure you choose the best policy for your specific needs.
Supplemental spousal liability insurance plays a critical role in protecting couples from the potential negligence of a spouse. By filling the gaps in standard auto insurance policies, this coverage provides a safety net that can save you from significant financial hardship. Investing in supplemental spousal liability insurance is a wise decision that offers peace of mind, and allows couples to navigate challenging times without the added burden of financial liability. In the realm of car accidents, being adequately insured is the best form of protection for you and your loved ones.
If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury in a car accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help. It is important to consult with a lawyer early to investigate your options, and preserve crucial evidence. For assistance with these matters, please contact us to learn more.
About the author: Peter J. Gregory is a partner with MCCM Personal Injury Lawyers in Rochester, NY. He is a trial lawyer with extensive experience resolving disputes in state and federal trial courts. As a personal injury lawyer, Gregory focuses on advising clients who have been injured or lost loved ones in accidents caused by the carelessness or recklessness of others. Please feel free to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (585) 512-3506.
This publication is intended as an information source for clients, prospective clients, and colleagues and constitutes attorney advertising. The content should not be considered legal advice and readers should not act upon information in this publication without individualized professional counsel.
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