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Insurance Guide: Updates After Marriage

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best...

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UPDATED: Oct 17, 2019

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CONGRATULATIONS! You two realized you loved each other, your relationship grew, and you got married. Getting married brings a lot of changes for both people; you’re joining your lives, combining your homes, and even insurance. Insurance changes after marriage are more than just putting two names on the home insurance policy.

There are a number of things you’ll want to consider when it comes to insurance as a married couple.

Auto Insurance

While it’s perfectly fine for spouses to maintain individual auto insurance policies, most insurance companies will require that all licensed drivers in the household be listed on the policy. That means that you’ll need to contact your insurance company and add your new spouse to the list of drivers in your household. If you only own one car, that shouldn’t affect your rates since insurance companies generally rate for the primary driver of the vehicle.

If you have more than one vehicle, the insurance company may want to rate that second vehicle with your spouse as the driver, but an exception may be granted if you show that there is another policy in force with your spouse as the rated driver.

Combining your auto insurance in one place may well be beneficial to you both. For couples that each bring one vehicle to the marriage, having two cars with the same company will qualify you for a multi-policy discount. Go one further and combine the cars and your home in the same place, and you will likely see savings across the board.

In further good news, just getting married may bring down your auto insurance. Studies have shown that married people get lower rates overall than do single people, particularly in younger age groups.

So in the end, letting your insurance company know you’ve tied the knot may actually benefit your budget.

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Home Insurance

Whether you are moving into an existing home already occupied by one spouse or moving into a new home together, marriage changes your home insurance needs. You will need to make sure both people are listed as named insured on the policy so that both can benefit from the protection it offers. If moving into an existing home, it’s as simple as letting the insurance company know you’re married and that you need to add your spouse to your account.

As mentioned above, bundling your home insurance with your auto insurance can save you money. It’s best to get a few quotes before making any changes; start by having your insurance company and your new spouse’s insurance company each offer a quote. Then seek out a few quotes from other companies to make sure you’re getting the best deal on the combined coverage; since you’re making changes anyway, now is a good time to shop around.

This is also a good time to review your coverage if you’re keeping an existing policy. Now that there are two people in a combined household, you will need to take a look at your personal property coverage to make sure there’s enough for everything both people own.

Jewelry coverage is one area, in particular, you will need to review, especially if you have expensive wedding rings. Most homeowners insurance limits coverage amounts on jewelry, and you may need a rider to properly cover any single valuable item. And don’t wait for the wedding day – you will want to insure that engagement ring the moment you purchase it! You’ll need an appraisal to get a rider added, so be sure to obtain that from the jeweler. Until the two of you live together, the ring should be insured on the policy of the person who owns it.

That means that during the engagement period, it should be covered under the insurance of the person wearing it,  not the one who bought it for them.

As a gift, it is now legally their property.

For some, getting married might mean owning or renting your own home for the first time. Whether you buy a home or sign a lease, insurance is a must to protect yourself from unexpected events. Most people who buy a house get homeowners insurance as part of the purchase process, but renters often forget that their personal property is not covered by the landlord’s insurance. Take out the appropriate policy together as soon as the mortgage or lease papers are signed, even if you aren’t married yet.

Life Insurance

Getting married is one of the life events that will lead many people to consider life insurance for the first time. With another person sharing your life and the possibility of starting a family, life insurance becomes a big topic.

If you do not have life insurance, now is the time to sit down and figure out what kind of coverage you need and what amount to purchase. Remember that the cost of life insurance will go up as you get older, so buying more than you think you need now will make it more affordable than trying to purchase extra coverage later in life. Consider your plans, if any, to have children, as well as future home purchases when making your calculations. If your marriage makes you a stepparent, you will also want to consider your financial obligations for the child entering your life.

If you already have life insurance, the first thing you will want to do after getting married is to update your beneficiary information to add your new spouse. As mentioned above, if there are children becoming part of the new family unit, you’ll also want to research setting up a trust and ensuring life insurance money intended for that child (or children) reaches them. Don’t forget to do the same on any policies offered through your workplace.

Now is also a good time to use the calculations suggested above to increase your coverage amount, or consider renewing or converting any term life insurance policies you have to offer longer-term coverage or higher benefit amounts.

Health Insurance

One of the qualifying life events for making changes to your health insurance policy is getting married. That means that you can add your spouse to your policy or you can shop around for a new health insurance plan within 60 days of tying the knot, even if it’s not during open enrollment.

If you both already have good coverage through work, you may want to leave things as they are. It’s worth taking the time, however, to get some quotes and shop around, as well as to find out what each workplace offers. You might be able to save overall by switching your health insurance to one single company. In most cases, you can save money by moving one spouse onto the other’s policy and getting a family rate.

Make sure to compare both of your workplace policies carefully to see which one might offer better coverage, even if you wouldn’t save money on premiums. Although you might save more overall with lower copays and deductibles; it’s important to find the right balance between premiums and coverage. If having a baby is in the near future for you, make sure to consider the maternity coverage offered by each policy; as you will be unable to change your insurance again until the next open enrollment period or qualifying life event (which will likely be the birth of the baby).

If one spouse (or both) already has a child or children before the marriage, you’ll also be allowed to make changes to the insurance coverage for the child. When it comes to adding children, a family rate is typically always the best deal, and also allows you to use the family deductible option and out of pocket limits.

Again, you will want to compare the policy options to choose what’s best for your new family’s needs.

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Other Insurance Changes

Aside from the major insurance policies most people carry, you may have other policies that require attention when you get married. If you have a boat, RV, ATV, or other specialty vehicles, you will want to add your spouse to the policy as a named insured. The same goes for any liability insurance coverage, such as an umbrella policy.

Beyond bundling just your home and auto, many insurance companies offer discounts for bundling all of your policies. That includes life insurance and even specialty policies. It is worth investigating how much you could save by moving everything over to one place. Although gathering quotes and comparing coverage can be time consuming, you’ll simplify matters in the long run by having only one insurance company to deal with.

Finally, if your name changes when you get married, you will have to submit that change to all of your insurance companies.

That should be done after the legal name change has been completed with government agencies so that the name on your identification matches the name on all of your insurance policies. The same goes for any children who might take on the last name of the new spouse; be sure to report the legal change to health insurance and any other company where the child’s name is listed.

About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

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