What is Supplemental Spousal Liability Coverage in NY?

Posted: July 12, 2022

Spousal CoverageAfter a motor vehicle accident on New York roads an experienced personal injury attorney can identify potentially liable parties and ensure all relevant insurance companies are put on notice.

All vehicles registered in New York must carry certain insurance coverages, and an insurance company that receives insurance premiums from the insured is contractually required to indemnify that insured and pay, on the insured’s behalf, up to a certain amount or “limit.” This is known as bodily injury liability insurance coverage.

There are, however, situations where the insurance company may deny coverage even though the insured caused injury that would generally be covered by bodily injury liability insurance coverage. For example, at the time of this writing, New York Insurance Law section 3420(g) prevents claims brought by one spouse against the other spouse. The only exception is if there is “express provision relating specifically thereto” in the insurance policy. This is known as Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage, and it can be absolutely essential when one spouse is injured or killed in an auto accident caused by the other spouse.

This might seem counterintuitive: for one spouse to assert an insurance claim against the other, but Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage can be an important safety net.

Spouses, by nature, can spend a lot of time together. Some of that time may be spent in the car, and mistakes can happen. Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage recognizes this, providing an important source of compensation for injured motorists.

Unfortunately, some New Yorkers are not aware of the ability to add Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage to an car insurance policy. Some New Yorkers may even assume that bodily injury liability insurance would cover that situation where one spouse is injured or killed in an auto accident caused by the other spouse. Indeed, Lawmakers have recognized that “[f]ew drivers are aware of the value of supplemental spousal liability insurance and insurance companies rarely promote this form of insurance coverage.”

That is why New York’s Legislature has passed “[a]n act to amend the insurance law, in relation to the provision of supplemental spousal liability insurance to persons who are insured for loss resulting from the ownership, maintenance and use of a motor vehicle.”

The Act, if signed into law by the Governor, would change New York Insurance Law section 3420(g) so that insurance companies are required to provide Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage equal to the bodily injury liability coverage unless the insured specifically rejects the additional coverage in writing. Insurance consumers, in effect, would have to consciously opt out of this important insurance coverage.

If Governor Hochul signs the legislation it would “apply to policies issued, renewed or modified” after the effective date. Insurers seeking to deny coverage based on a spousal exclusion would likely have to establish compliance with the new law, which would require proof of written waiver on an approved form.

Car Accident Insurance Coverage Questions?

William Mattar, P.C. is following the important piece of legislation mentioned above, because it could have important insurance implications when one spouse is injured or killed in an auto accident caused by the other spouse. The attorneys at William Mattar, P.C. have experience identifying and noticing applicable insurance coverage so that injured motorists can achieve maximum compensation. Contact us online today or call 844-444-4444.

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