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Last updated May 20, 2008

Marriage is one of the most significant events in anyone’s life. It’s also one of the most important times to review your insurance coverage and make adjustments to meet your new financial obligations.

Make sure your spouse won’t be burdened by your death.

The first thing to consider is low cost life insurance. If you have debts, life insurance can help protect your spouse financially when you die. This is crucial if you buy a house together or are considering having children soon.

Don’t forget health insurance

If both you and your spouse have employer-sponsored health insurance, which plan will be best for both of you? Open enrollment periods generally come only once a year, but most employers will allow you to add your new spouse to your group health plan immediately following your wedding. It’s important to compare the benefits and costs of each of your health plans to find out which works best for you.

Insuring your valuables

You probably have at least one valuable possession that you should get insured — the engagement ring.

There are two valuables that are unique to married couples: engagement and wedding rings.

Homeowners or renters insurance protects the physical structure of your home and your possessions, but a standard policy might not provide sufficient protection for expensive jewelry. The dollar limit for theft or loss of jewelry is generally low. The maximum reimbursement for a lost diamond or other precious jewelry is generally between $1,000 and $5,000, and the policy’s deductible applies to all claims.

Talk with your insurance company or agent about buying additional coverage for jewelry. Your agent or insurance company can also determine if any of your other possessions require special coverage.

Find out whether your home or renters policy provides “actual cash value” or “replacement cost coverage.” Policies that cover the actual cash value of your possessions will pay you only what the items were worth at the time they were damaged or stolen, and thus factor in depreciation. For example, the five-year-old television you bought for $300 will be worth significantly less today.

As the name implies, replacement cost coverage will provide you enough money to replace an item, regardless of how much the item was worth when it was stolen or damaged. That’s why replacement cost coverage is more expensive.

Saving on auto insurance

One benefit to marriage is that many insurance companies will discount auto rates for married drivers. It’s important to inform your agent or insurance company as soon as possible about your marriage so you can receive any discounts right away. And if your car is now garaged in a new location, your auto insurer needs to know.

Also check to see if you qualify for other discounts on your auto insurance, such as those offered for insuring multiple cars.

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Penny Gusner
Contributor

 
  

Penny is an expert on insurance procedures, rates, policies and claims. She has extensive knowledge of all major insurance lines -- auto, homeowners, life and health insurance. She has been answering consumers’ questions as an analyst for more than 15 years and has been featured in numerous major media outlets, including the Washington Post and Kiplinger’s.

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