What Happens to Car Insurance When the Policyholder Dies?

Handling car insurance after the death of the policy owner can be tricky — let's review some basics.

Car insurance after death: what happens to the policy?

After grieving the loss of a loved one, dealing with the logistics can be stressful — especially when auto insurance is involved. The steps you should take after a car insurance policyholder dies may vary, depending on the car insurance company and policy details. We've broken down recommended courses of action in specific situations.

Car insurance after policy owner death — by scenario:
 

 

Death of relative on a separate policy

If a relative dies and you’re not listed as a member on their car insurance policy, resolving the situation can be tricky. The insurance company — responsible for the security of the policy — will protect its client's assets by making it difficult to terminate the policy. You most likely won't be able to close the car insurance policy of a deceased family member via a quick phone call. The insurance company may require documentation proving your status as the executor of the estate.

The insurance company doesn't intentionally want to be difficult during an already testing time. The company merely wants to uphold its responsibility to its clients by protecting against fraud. The best way to iron out the situation is to contact the insurance company’s customer service department with your documentation at the ready.

 

 

Death of a spouse who is the policyholder

Every car insurance policy has a "policyholder" — the driver who purchased and is covered by the insurance. Policy changes, including the addition or removal of a vehicle or driver and cancellation of coverage, must be authorized by the policyholder. If the owner of the car insurance policy dies, what happens to the policy?

A surviving spouse or executor of the deceased driver's estate will inherit the policy. This step will require documentation in the form of a death certificate and/or probate form/executor of estate documents. This process may be company-specific: your first step should be contacting your insurance company’s customer service department.

Upon notice of death — and in most states — insurers will effectively remove the late spouse one day after the reported date of passing. If some time has passed since the policyholder's death and their name has remained on the policy for months or even years, reimbursement could be possible — most insurance companies will process this as far back as its systems will allow, which is usually one to two policy terms back.

 

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Recent Questions:

Will there be a cost to remove a deceased from a car insurance policy?

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. As far as your insurance goes, you should contact your agency and have them remove the driver.
Jun 5, 2020 Jupiter, FL

How do I obtain insurance in the name of the estate?

You can have the driver of the car insure the vehicle in their name since you are planning on selling it. If you were not selling it, the insurance would need to be in the name of the registered owner.
Apr 15, 2019 Hilton Head Island, SC

How can I find info on my recently deceased mother’s Gap policy?

Gap insurance covers the difference between what your car is worth and what the insurance company is willing to pay out if it’s totaled. This only applies when the car is involved in an accident that totals it; if this was the cause of your mother’s passing, her gap insurance may cover the remaining balance.
Jul 7, 2021 Yuma, AZ

How do I handle car insurance after my husband's death?

I'm sorry to hear your husband has passed. Every company is different when it comes to their process when a spouse passes away.
Dec 11, 2018 Kansas City, MO

Ava Lynch
Ava Lynch LinkedIn

Ava worked in the insurance industry as an agent for four-plus years. Currently providing insights and analysis as one of The Zebra’s resident property insurance experts, Ava has been featured in publications such as U.S. News & World Report, GasBuddy, and Yahoo! Finance.