Typically, your auto insurance policy must list all licensed drivers in your home who are related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption, and in some cases, your insurer may even require you to list roommates on your policy. This rule even applies to drivers covered by their own insurance policies, and you must list any and all persons even if they only drive your car occasionally.
However, in Massachusetts, you can get around this requirement by using the “Operator Exclusion Form” (available from your insurance company). Keep reading to learn more about this form and how to use it.
Drivers With Their Own Insurance Policies
Drivers who have their own insurance policies are usually listed on your policy as “deferred operators” and garner no additional charge. In these situations, you can simply list the driver, and you don’t have to worry about paying higher premiums. Additionally, if that driver ever borrows your car, you can rest assured that they are fully covered by your policy. Note, however, that in some cases, their own coverage may come into play in the event of an accident.
Drivers Without Their Own Insurance Policies
If you have a driver in your home who does not have their own insurance policy, you are usually obligated to list them on your policy. In this situation, the insurer will take that driver into account when calculating your premium. Luckily, you don’t usually have to include drivers with their learner’s permits, until they are fully licensed.
Unfortunately, however, adding some drivers to your policy can drive up costs. If you want to save some money, you may want to consider filling out the Operator Exclusion form. That formally excludes the driver from your policy, but then, you need to ensure that driver never operates your vehicle.
When to Use the Operator Exclusion Form
Generally, it makes sense to use the Operator Exclusion form if you have a young driver in the home who would be listed as an inexperienced driver or if you have a driver who would increase your premiums.
For instance, you may choose to exclude a teen driver, but remember by signing the exclusion form, you promise to exclude your child from driving your vehicle under any circumstances. If your child drives your vehicle and you attempt to make an insurance claim, your claim moves to a misrepresentation of your agreement. As a result, your insurance company is absolved of paying any of your optional liability.
In some cases, policyholders also opt to exclude drivers when they leave the home to go to college, but you need to be careful with that as well. If you let the driver use your car when they are home on vacation, that negates your agreement. Before resorting to using this form, contact your insurer and see if a college student is still considered to be living in your home, check if you need to insure them, and ask about potential student discounts to help offset the cost of coverage.
What Happens If an Excluded Driver Operates Your Vehicle
If an excluded driver operates your vehicle and gets into an accident, you can lose your optional bodily injury coverage in an auto policy. In other words, if you allow an excluded driver to operate your vehicle, you may become liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, if the insurance company refuses to pay the claim. When you fill out the Operator Exclusion form, you agree to these terms, and it is perfectly legal for the insurer to deny your claims.
The Operator Exclusion Form
The form itself is relatively short and easy to complete. You simply note the excluded driver and a description of your vehicle. Then, you add your name, the policy number, and the date, and both you and the excluded driver must sign the form. When you sign the form, you agree to the following points:
- If you make false, incomplete, or deceptive statements, the insurer can refuse to pay claims related to any part of your insurance policy.
- Massachusetts state law requires insurers to withhold payments related to collision losses if an excluded household member operates your vehicle.
- You agree that the excluded driver will not operate the listed vehicle or any replacements you buy for the listed vehicle.
If you don’t use the Operator Exclusion form and you fail to list any “customary” operator or licensed household member, your insurance company might refuse to pay your claim, even if you were driving at the time of the accident.
If you have been in an accident with someone who was listed on an operator exclusion form, you may face additional struggles trying to make a claim. In that situation, you need an experienced car accident attorney, and we can help you. To learn more, contact us today at Mazow | McCullough, PC.