SCC: Discuss insurance before saying ‘I do’
Planning for a wedding involves many decisions, from location, music, and flowers to guest lists and who will officiate at the service. The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians to review their insurance coverage before they say ‘I do.’
If you have just married or will soon, you may face complex insurance decisions as you combine lives and households. The Bureau of Insurance encourages couples to have a pre-wedding discussion regarding auto, home, health and life insurance, as well as whether they need insurance for the wedding itself. Talk to your insurance agent or company to help you avoid surprises and, in some cases, save money.
In the case of auto insurance, discuss driving records. If your soon-to-be spouse has points on his or her driving record for speeding or other traffic offenses and your driving record is spotless, your soon-to-be spouse’s record may impact your auto insurance premium. Spouses are automatically covered under the Virginia personal auto policy and cannot be excluded from coverage.
When planning your new home together, remember that location not only affects a home’s resale value, it impacts insurance rates, as does your home’s construction type and square footage. If you are thinking of buying a fixer-upper, keep in mind that a renovation investment can change a home’s replacement value and your insurance needs. Do your homework before crossing the threshold.
In the case of health insurance, consider more than just the lowest premium when deciding between health insurance plans or choosing to stick with individual coverage. Review provisions related to cost-sharing – deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance – and make sure you understand what is not covered by the plan. Most group insurance providers consider marriage a qualifying major event, which means you can make related policy changes outside of the approved open enrollment period. Alert your insurance provider immediately if “I do” also includes stepchildren.
Update beneficiaries on your life insurance policies. To name your new spouse as beneficiary you must contact your Human Resources department or individual life insurance provider. Also review your life insurance to determine if you have enough coverage. To determine the correct amount, consider future income potential, the cost of raising kids and any outstanding mortgage.
For those preparing to tie the knot, determine whether you need insurance for the wedding itself. Wedding insurance can cover the cost of unexpected and unpreventable disasters that cause the wedding to be rescheduled. It may cover such things as wedding-related deposits, attire for members of the wedding party, jewelry, liability, and gifts.
Your homeowners or renters policy may cover at least a portion of your wedding gifts if they are stolen or damaged. Make sure that your policy limits are high enough to cover these items or consider increasing your property insurance limits or purchasing separate coverage. Keep in mind that your property insurance policy may or may not cover cash gifts received, but many wedding gift policies will. Also make sure your existing property insurance will cover gifts received somewhere other than at your home.
Be sure to check with your agent or company about coverage for jewelry worn by members of the wedding party, as well as wedding and engagement rings. Some of these items may not be covered under wedding insurance and will require separate policies.
Wedding insurance is not one-size-fits all, so the Bureau of Insurance suggests shopping around and comparing prices, policy limits, deductibles and other terms. Avoid purchasing duplicate wedding-related insurance coverage by checking with vendors, location sites and caterers regarding any relevant insurance coverage they may have and ask for copies of those policies. The Bureau recommends having your insurance coverage in place before you make any major deposits on your wedding to ensure that every aspect of your wedding will be eligible for coverage.
For more information, contact the Bureau of Insurance toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at (804) 371-9741 or visit its website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi. The Bureau also has specially trained staff who can assist consumers with their general questions or concerns about insurance. For more detailed information regarding your insurance needs, contact your agent or your insurance company.
Additional information also may be found on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ InsureU website at www.insureuonline.org.
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