Commissioner’s Corner: Just engaged? Don’t forget to talk about insurance

By Sandy Praeger, Kansas Insurance Commissioner

We are in the peak time for couples to get engaged to be married. Trend watchers say that 39 percent of engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.

Planning a wedding is exciting and time consuming. One not-so-exciting but just as important factor to discuss is what to do about insurance needs. That may not be as fun as sampling cakes, but getting married can certainly have an impact on your insurance coverage.

Our Kansas Insurance Department staff and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) have some insurance tips for couples who are about to say “I do.”

Wedding insurance

Insurance to protect against weather, illness or even “cold feet” has been around for a few years, and the market is increasing, according to insurance companies. Since the cost of an American wedding is now estimated at $26,000, and an estimated 2 million-plus weddings are conducted annually in the U.S., couples might want to check with an insurance agent to see if this could be useful for their situation.

Homeowners and renter’s insurance

There are several things to consider when deciding where you and your spouse will live. Location, size of the dwelling and construction type are all factors that determine your insurance premium.

Combining households also means combining your belongings. Make a home inventory of all of your belongings to determine how much coverage you’ll need. It will also make filing a claim easier in the event of a loss or disaster. The NAIC offers a free home inventory app for iPhones and Android phones; you can also download a PDF version.

Auto insurance

Married couples have the option of combining their auto insurance policies, but most newlyweds don’t discuss their spouse’s driving record before getting married. A poor driving record could increase the cost of your premiums, so you might want to have that conversation.

As a newlywed, you may be eligible for discounts. Some insurance companies consider married couples a lower risk, which could result in lower rates. Also, if you combine your auto policies or buy auto coverage from the same company that carries your homeowners or renters policies, you may be eligible for additional discounts.

Health insurance

When deciding what to do about your health insurance, evaluate your current and future health care needs. Review the provisions of your policies with those needs in mind. You will also want to compare the cost of adding your spouse to your policy against keeping your own health insurance.

For individual plans, contact your insurance agent for specific enrollment requirements for spouses. Insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, nor can they charge more based on medical history. You will need your spouse’s Social Security Number and income information to add him/her to your plan.

Life insurance

It’s not easy to talk about something like life insurance during such a happy time, but life insurance may help secure your family’s financial future. To calculate your needs, consider future income, the cost of raising children and any large outstanding debts such as school loans or mortgage payments.

If either or both of you have life insurance, check with your agent about updating your beneficiary information. Remember to check with your employer about any life insurance benefits offered through work.

Not sure where to start?

Talking about insurance and picking the right coverage for your new married life can be confusing, but the NAIC has some resources to make the process easier—and possibly more fun.

To help couples get smart about insurance, the NAIC created the Insurance Survival Guide for Newlyweds, a guide that encourages couples to ask the tough questions early. Also, the NAIC’s “I Do Adventures” interactive game uses lighthearted fun to drive home valuable insurance lessons. Go to http://www.insureuonline.org/newlyweds_adventure.htm.

As always, if you have questions, you can call the Kansas Insurance Department’s Consumer Assistance Hotline at 800-432-2484.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas