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.

 

 

Car insurance after death: what to do

Ensure you have on-hand proof — an executor of estate form — and contact the insurance company. If you need to transfer a vehicle title, contact your state's department of motor vehicles (DMV). That process will be more complicated with insufficient documentation.

If you’re looking for more information regarding car insurance, see our additional resources:

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Ava Lynch
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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.