Just Married? A Guide to Combining Insurance Policies
In 2018, 2.1 million people tied the knot across the United States.1 Many things can change when combining your households and finances - and insurance is one of them. As you’re working through your post-wedding checklist, remember that insurance companies recognize marriage as a major life event. Therefore, you can typically make changes to your policies outside of any applicable open enrollment periods.
It’s important to remember that your new couple status can grant you access to better coverage and lower rates. For instance, you can often get discounts on multiple policies purchased through the same company. This may mean more room in the budget for better coverage.
Here are the marital benefits associated with major insurance categories.
If you are, for example, a single 25-year-old guy, insurance companies look at you differently once you walk down the aisle. Married men and women are typically offered lower rates than single ones, and many insurers discount rates when you combine your cars under the same policy.
If you and your spouse have different insurance companies, ask both how much you can save by combining your policies. Even better, consider shopping around for multi-car discounts and compare the quotes to see which company offers the best rates for the coverage you want.
The Insurance Information Institute calls life insurance the “foundation of your financial planning strategy.”2 If you already have a life insurance policy in place, remember to update your beneficiaries to include your wife or husband.
If you don't have life insurance or wish to review your policy, there are several factors to take into consideration. Once you're married, chances are you will be combining your finances. If something happens to you, your spouse may find it difficult to meet monthly expenses based on one income. With that in mind, many couples meet with a financial advisor to discuss how to build life insurance into their financial planning strategy.
In most cases, marital status positively impacts your life insurance premiums. This means you may save money when you renew your policy. While reviewing your current or new policy, make sure that your life insurance covers the loss of income if one of you passes away. For example, if you move from two separate apartments into a home that you own together, the mortgage could be much higher than you could afford on your own. Taking out life insurance gives you and your spouse a cushion in case the unthinkable happens.
Once you have children, it's time to review your life insurance policy again. Add in your kids as beneficiaries and consider increasing your policy amount to cover costs such as college tuition.
Health insurance presents another opportunity to save by combining policies. In some instances, both you and your spouse may have group coverage through your employers. Consider both the coverage and premium you would pay as a married couple under each policy. Then, choose the most advantageous one and update the coverage to reflect your marital status.
You typically have up to 60 days to make these changes, as determined by the Special Enrollment Period for major life events — getting married, having a baby, etc.3 Check with each insurer to make sure that you make the change within the allowable time frame. It's almost always cheaper to combine your coverage than to keep separate policies, especially if you already have children.
For self-employed spouses, it's typically cheaper to join the policy of a spouse covered by an employer's group policy. Consider factors such as deductibles and co-pays to help you make the best decision for your new family status.
Homeowners or Renters Insurance
If you don't already live together, there are a few things to take care of after you combine households. First, remember to cancel any home or renter's insurance that you won't need.
Second, homeowners insurance consists of the physical structure - your home, fences, sheds and unattached garages - and your personal items within the property. Be sure to increase any existing policy limits to cover both you and your spouse's valuables. In addition, make sure to add or include your spouse on the policy that you wind up choosing.
Property and casualty insurance companies typically offer more than one type of insurance. For example, consider ABC Insurance that sells both home and auto insurance. If you and your spouse need home insurance and would like to save money on coverage for your two vehicles, the insurer may offer a multiline discount. To increase your chance of saving, you may want to comparison shop with at least three different providers.
As you settle into your new life together, it’s important to reassess and combine insurance policies within the special enrollment period. If you have a question on your coverage, reach out to your financial advisor or insurance agent right away. He or she can help you determine the types of coverage needed and how to save on policy premiums.
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