Love and Coverage: How Getting Married Changes Your Insurance

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Research confirms — to no great surprise for romantics – that Valentine's Day is one of the most popular dates to pop the question. In a typical year, millions of couples get engaged on the day devoted to all things Cupid.

If you're among the lucky people making (or receiving) a marriage proposal this Feb. 14, remember that the wedding isn't the only thing you should start planning.

Marriage affects nearly every aspect of your life, including your insurance profile. It pays to know about the ways that a change in marital status could also change your insurance needs and responsibilities.

We are gathered here today to help you learn more.

Defining some insurance terms of endearment

Getting married can bring significant changes in insurance not only to you as a policyholder but also to your spouse. For that reason, marriage and other life events present a prime opportunity to review your policies and coverages.

So what exactly does "life event" mean? Here's a small glossary of insurance terms that couples should know:

  • Life event — A change in your personal or professional situation that may make it necessary to revise your insurance coverage. In addition to marriage, examples also include the birth of a child, a new job and an extensive home renovation. In health insurance, this kind of change is sometimes called a qualifying life event.
  • Resident relative — Family members living in a policyholder's home may be automatically included as insured parties under certain types of policies. A resident relative is most commonly related to the policyholder by marriage (spouses) or blood (biological children, among others). Adopted children, foster children and others in a guardian-ward relationship with the policyholder, and living in the policyholder's home, may also be included.
  • Insurance rider — Also known as an endorsement or a floater, a rider is an add-on to a home insurance policy that provides coverage for certain valuable items. For example, a married couple may purchase riders to insure an engagement ring.

Sources: Insurance Information Institute and Investopedia

Insurance updates for married couples

When you decide to get married, a lot of people will need to hear the news. In addition to your relatives and friends, the list should also include the agents and providers in charge of your insurance policies.

You may end up combining some policies or discontinuing redundant coverage. Because resident relative coverage may not apply with every single insurer or policy, it pays to go over the details with your agent to make certain you and your spouse will have adequate coverage.

Homeowners/renters insurance

If a couple shares one residence, it only makes sense to have one homeowners or renters policy. Coverage — including liability coverage — may extend to the primary policyholder's resident relatives, even if their names don't appear on the policy as the "named insured." As always, check the details with your agent. Also, you will need to update the policy's contents coverage since it will now apply to the personal belongings of both you and your spouse.

Auto insurance

Check with your agent about resident relatives coverage to see if one policy can cover both you and your spouse. Some insurers offer savings for insuring more than one vehicle on a single policy, so make sure to ask about multiple-line discounts too. In most cases, married couples pay less for auto coverage.

Life insurance

Marriage could lead to a life insurance policyholder changing the beneficiary to his or her spouse rather than a blood relative. Policyholders may be able to name a primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary.

Health insurance

If you, like most Americans, have health insurance through your employer, notify your employer's human resources department to find out if you can extend coverage to your spouse. If you buy coverage directly from a health insurance provider, contact the provider's customer service department.

Putting your insurance under one roof

In addition to sharing your lives, you and your intended spouse may very well wind up sharing some insurance coverage. Adequate planning on your part can help ensure a smooth transition with no coverage gaps.

If your Valentine's Day turns into a matrimonial milestone, don't forget to show your insurance a little love, too.

Barry Bridges writes for Quotes.Safeco.com and HomeInsurance.com, an online resource for homeowners and drivers across the country. Offering automobile and home insurance quotes, consumers rely on HomeInsurance.com for competitive rates from top-rated insurance carriers. The HomeInsurance.com blog provides fresh tips and advice on a range of financial topics to help homeowners and homebuyers make educated decisions about their insurance purchases. 

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Personal Finance , Insurance , Saving Money , Wealth Management

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