Effective August 1, 2023, all car insurance policies in NYS must include a Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance, even if the insured is unmarried, unless the insured elects to decline in writing. Married persons who do not decline the insurance can make an insurance claim against and/or sue their spouse in the case of a car accident, if the spouse is negligent.
Insurance Law § 3420(g) now requires insurers issuing or delivering a policy in New York State to provide Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance (SSLI) in all policies, new and existing, unless the named insured elects to decline and refuse the insurance coverage in writing, using an official form.
In the past the law required an insured to opt in to receive the SSLI coverage and now an insured has to opt out in writing to decline or refuse the coverage.
The spousal liability insurance is added regardless of the insured’s marital status and includes a premium charge, varying based on the insurance policy.
If the SSLI is kept, it allows the insured to make a claim and/or sue their spouse for injury and damages resulting from a car accident, if their spouse was negligent.
In the State of New York, Insurance Law generally does not allow one spouse to sue another for injury, death, or destruction of property sustained in a car accident. There is an exception, and insurance companies are required to offer SSLI coverage that will allow a spouse to sue and/or make a claim against their spouse if he or she is partially or entirely at fault and negligent for injuries or damages resulting from a car accident.
As with any insurance claim, the burden of proof is generally on the claimant.
The new law does not address why unmarried persons must also be provided with the SSLI by default, requiring them to waive it, though ostensibly it’s to ensure that it’s offered in all policies.
SHOULD YOU KEEP THIS INSURANCE?
If you prefer to opt out of the SSLI, you must submit this Declination Form. You can also inform your insurance agent or representative that you want to opt out and they will provide you with the form you will need to sign.
However, if you are married, we suggest that you consider keeping the policy. The thought of suing or making a claim against your spouse may be unpleasant, but this is simply a matter of protecting yourself in the event you are injured or sustain damages as a result of your spouse's negligence.
The SSLI is sold as a premium in most standard policies, but injuries sustained in a car accident can have a devastating effect not just on your physical and emotional wellbeing, but financial as well. This may include large or long-term medical expenses, accommodations for permanent injuries, or inability to work.
If you are involved in a car accident in which your spouse was driving, the SSLI allows you to make a liability claim and receive insurance payments if you can prove their culpability. Alternatively, if you were the one driving, it allows your spouse to make a claim. Like any other type of insurance, it’s a question of security and peace of mind.
For any questions or assistance, contact us.
Lori A. La Salvia is an associate in VMM’s Personal Injury practice. She focuses on plaintiff litigation involving motor vehicle accidents, construction accidents, premises accidents, slip & falls, and other types of injuries and damages. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 516.437.4385 x128.