Don’t delay adding your new spouse to insurance policies
Newly married? Congratulations! This is a wonderful time in your life, a time of celebration and joy. It’s also a time of change, as you officially combine households and insurance with your new spouse.
Sometimes, all the details get complicated. So, to help you fly through your to-do list, here’s an insurance checklist for newlyweds.
Perhaps you’ve been living together for a while, you’re about to buy your first home, or you’re moving into a new apartment. No matter your circumstances, this is the right time to make sure all your insurance policies are up to date. You might even discover insurance discounts and savings you didn’t have before.
In this insurance checklist for newlyweds, we’ll cover common types of insurance, including car, home, RV, motorcycle, boat and umbrella.
Little-known legal aspects of marriage
Before we dive into our insurance checklist for newlyweds, let’s cover the basics of what it means to be legally married—from an insurance perspective.
Marriage unites you with the person you love. It also legally binds you to each other. Under the law, you and your spouse are considered “one person.” Washington is a community property state, which means in the eyes of the law, a married couple is considered one person when it comes to lawsuits.
That’s why it’s important to update your insurance policies and add your new spouse.
First step, gather all your policies together
Chances are, both you and your spouse already have insurance policies. This can include cars, homes, condos, boats, motorcycles, RVs, camper vans, antiques and collectibles, plus life insurance and an umbrella policy. Each of these policies needs an update.
Start with this insurance checklist for newlyweds:
- Gather all your policies together and make a list.
- Print copies of your policies or upload digital copies to a shared folder (make sure you have a copy of all “declaration” pages).
- Total everything up that you’re paying, and when payments are due, so you have a full picture of what you’re both paying for insurance.
- Look for differences between your policies.
- Talk about any new coverage you might want to add, such as life insurance.
- Reach out to all your insurance agents to schedule reviews.
- Ask about discounts and ways to save, plus how to bundle your insurance.
It’s important to get the full picture of all your insurance policies before doing a review. This will help you to see any differences in coverage. For example, one of you might have the state minimum for car insurance (a small amount of liability insurance only) while the other might have full coverage (which includes liability and damage protection). When you do a review with an insurance agent, they’ll help you choose the best levels of coverage.
Tip: Marriage is a good time to shop around for the right coverage for all your assets, such as jewelry and collectibles. Get started by connecting with a AAA agent, who can help with all your insurance needs. You can get a quote here.
Reviewing your insurance policies
During the review, your insurance agent will ask to see all the policies you and your spouse already have. They will work through your insurance checklist for newlyweds, review each policy, identify important changes, and offer suggestions for which policies to change. In many cases, they can identify ways for you to save on insurance, including discounts for married couples.
Adding your new spouse to car insurance
As mentioned above, under the eyes of the law, a married couple is considered one person. That means that you can both be named in lawsuits, and potentially found liable, for any accidents. This is why it’s essential to add your spouse to your car insurance (and for them to add you to their policy) soon after your marriage.
Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be. You can simplify your car insurance by insuring all your cars with the same carrier and through the same agent. One of you may change insurance, or you both might switch. But, once it’s done, you have only one policy to manage and one bill to pay.
Plus, there’s a silver lining… You often get an insurance discount for being married. That’s right, married people tend to pay less on car insurance. Click here to learn more about insurance discounts for newlyweds.
Adding your new spouse to home or renters insurance
Whether you’ve lived together for years or are moving to a new place after the wedding, you’ll want to make updates to your home insurance or renters insurance. It’s an essential step in working through your insurance checklist for newlyweds.
If one of you is moving into the other’s home, you will want to add them as a second-named insured to your current policy. This ensures that your spouse has full access to the policy (and can get help if you’re not available). It’s doubly important to add your spouse to the policy because this will ensure their personal property is covered for theft or damage. If something like a break-in happens, their belongings will be covered, too.
Lastly, adding your spouse to your policy will ensure they also have personal liability coverage for the home. This is important because you’re now considered one person for legal reasons, so both of you can be held liable for accidents that happen on your property.
Adding your new spouse to motorcycle insurance
Motorcycle insurance is more straightforward than car insurance. If you’re the only licensed motorcycle rider in the home (you’re the only one with a motorcycle permit or endorsement), there’s no need to add your spouse to the policy.
However, even if it’s not necessary to add your spouse, be sure to include motorcycle insurance in your list of policies when you do a review. Your agent could potentially find you a better rate.
Adding your new spouse to boat or RV insurance
If one of you owns a boat or RV before your marriage, it’s important to add the other spouse to the policy. When it comes to insurance, boats and RVs fall under the same rules as cars.
Specialty insurance and add-ons
Do you own valuable collectibles, jewelry, heirlooms or artwork? Chances are, you already have those items or collections insured as part of your home insurance. If not, ask an agent about riders and add-ons to protect these items.
If your new spouse also owns high-value and rare items, or you received some very pricey wedding gifts, be sure to share this with your insurance agent.
Don’t forget your new engagement rings and wedding rings, too. Your insurance agent will work with you to make sure that these items are properly insured under your home insurance policy.
Adding your new spouse to umbrella insurance
Umbrella insurance provides a large amount of liability insurance above and beyond your other policies. It provides coverage after you max other coverage.
Before you add your spouse to your umbrella policy, you’ll want to ensure that they’ve been added to all your other insurance policies first.
If neither of you has umbrella insurance, now is a good time to ask an insurance agent about your options.
Don’t forget this essential task
When was the last time you updated the beneficiary or beneficiaries on your life insurance, as well as bank, retirement and investment accounts?
Getting married is an ideal time to check that your beneficiaries are up to date. In some cases, you may want to add your spouse as a beneficiary. In other cases, you could add an adult child, parent or sibling.
No matter who your beneficiaries are, make sure that their names are spelled correctly.
Questions to ask an insurance agent
Whether you begin your married life with a lot of assets—cars, home, boats, you name it—or you’re starting with just a set of dishes, there are a couple of questions you should ask an insurance agent:
- Can I save money by combining or bundling insurance? For example, if we buy all our insurance through one agent, what kind of savings are available?
- Can AAA members get insurance discounts?
- Should we increase or add any insurance coverage? For example, we received several valuable antiques as wedding gifts. Should we add those items to our home insurance?
- What about deductibles? Can we raise our deductibles to save money?
- Are there any other discounts available to us, now that we’re combining households?
Make a date for an annual review
A lot can happen during your first years as a married couple. You might welcome a child into the family, move into a bigger home, switch jobs or start a home-based business. So, it’s important to do an annual review of your insurance policies with an agent to see if you’re missing any coverage—or if there are new ways to save on insurance.
Annual insurance reviews are quick and easy, so even if you’ve been married for decades, it’s definitely worthwhile speaking with an agent.
If these updates sound overwhelming, don’t worry. A AAA agent can guide you through each step to make sure you and your spouse get the right coverage for the best price. To get started, connect with an expert at AAA today.
—Written by AAA Washington