Changing Insurance Needs: Married

The joining together of two lives is joyous. It’s also nerve-wracking. There are a number of adjustments couples have to make when thinking and planning for two. They may need financial protection they haven’t worried about before, because spouses now depend on each other for support. In merging two households and perhaps two careers, there are choices that couples may need to make as to which spouse has the best existing insurance coverage.


Young single people tend to pay higher rates for insurance. Good news, when two people get married, they probably qualify for a discount. Couples may well bring two cars into the relationship and two insurance companies. Review existing coverage and see which company offers the best combination of price and service.

Your driving ability may not be all you have to worry about. At some point, couples may need to participate in a family decision in helping parents or in-laws decide when they should stop driving. Driving ability is not strictly a matter of age. There are middle-aged drivers who are terrible and there are older drivers who are highly skilled and perfectly safe. Yet, as a group, older drivers, particularly after the age of 70, are involved in more serious accidents. Because of their age, they are increasingly vulnerable to serious injury. Many seniors themselves decide as they get older to limit their driving to daylight and roads they are familiar with. And while many states require more frequent vision and, if necessary, driving tests later in life, it often falls to the children to help parents decide when it is no longer safe to get behind the wheel.


When buying a home, the insured value of the house will be less than the market value. Don’t be alarmed, because there is no need to insure the land the house rests on. The insured value needs to be sufficient to repair or replace the home if there is a major disaster. Over time, be sure that the coverage keeps pace with additions or major improvements that increase the value of the home – and the cost of repairing it. Set the deductible on the policy – the amount the homeowner is responsible for before insurance is triggered – as high as your financial circumstances allow. The higher the deductible, the less the coverage will cost. A higher deductible can also mean fewer claims, another important factor in the cost of coverage.

Ironically, homeowners or renters insurance questions frequently begin when couples buy engagement and wedding rings – things of actual as well as symbolic value – or accumulate expensive household items. A standard homeowner policy includes a limit (usually a fixed percentage of the broader coverage) on personal possessions, so an endorsement or floater may be needed to cover high value items. Merging two households presents a good opportunity to do a home inventory. This helps couples understand what their insurance coverage needs are – and provides have a record of what to claim if a real disaster strikes.

When arranging homeowners insurance, one important decision involves replacement cost versus actual cash value coverage. Replacement cost is what it suggests. It pays the dollar amount needed to replace a damaged item with one of similar kind and quality. Actual cash value covers the amount needed to replace the item, minus depreciation.


Becoming a couple means sharing responsibility with and for someone else. Both spouses may work, building a lifestyle that depends on two incomes. There will be loans and other debts to pay off. At this stage, it makes sense to protect what you have. Life insurance is a traditional way of ensuring that the surviving spouse is taken care of in the event of a tragedy.

The primary purpose for life insurance is to provide a spouse, children or other beneficiary with resources in the event of the premature death of the other spouse. There are two basic types of life insurance:

  • Term insurance provides a simple death benefit for a fixed period of time. There are several different types of term insurance – renewable, convertible, level, decreasing and increasing term coverage. The premium may stay the same for many years. However, when the stated term expires, the premium can go up; and
  • Cash value insurance, as the name implies, provides permanent protection as long as you pay the premium. The premium does not increase over time. The younger a person is when buying the policy, the lower the premium will be for the life of the policy. But because premiums remain level, cash value coverage tends to be more expensive than term insurance. There are different types of cash value or permanent insurance as well – whole life, universal life, variable life and variable universal life insurance.


Most people who work full-time get health insurance through their employer. Along with bringing two lives together, if both spouses work, the marriage also brings two health insurance plans. These health plans frequently include dependents.

Medical inflation is rising dramatically today and employers are increasing the amount they expect workers to pay as they cope with health care costs. In certain cases, they may not cover a family member who has another health care plan. If you have a choice, families with two working spouses should compare coverage, co-pays and costs and choose the best mix that offers the best coverage for the least amount of money.


Should a sickness or illness prevent one spouse from earning an income in his or her occupation, couples can face severe economic impact. Many employers offer an option of disability coverage. Typically, disability insurance is designed to replace anywhere from 45-60% of gross income. If the employee pays for disability coverage, insurance proceeds are tax-free. However, if the company pays for the coverage, this is viewed as a benefit and it is taxable.


Each year, the U.S. elderly population continues to grow. Due to advances in modern medicine and life-style changes, the number of people over the age of 65 is projected to double by the year 2050. Unfortunately, as people age, they are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses such as strokes or Alzheimer’s or the aftermath of strokes. Statistically, Americans over the age of 65 face a 40% risk of entering a nursing home for long-term care services. Long-term care safeguards couples from losing their most important asset — the home — if either one gets sick and must be cared for. Middle age is the best time to consider whether to buy this insurance. Premiums will increase as individuals reach their ‘60s and ‘70s. This coverage must be purchased before the age of 80. A healthy 65 year-old person can expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000 a year for a policy that covers nursing home and home care.


At this stage, financial goals may include both saving for retirement and saving for a specific purpose. Some investments can be long-term. Others perhaps need to be more liquid. For example, newly married couples may want to save aggressively for a home. If both work, one strategy might be to live off of one salary and save the other.

Joint income could put a household into a higher tax bracket, which places greater emphasis on means of deferring taxes on this income. There are a number of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) options. In 2003, both spouses can each put $3,000 into an IRA. Depending on a household’s adjusted gross income, these contributions may be tax deductible. IRA earnings grow tax-deferred until proceeds are drawn out later in life. The level of contributions will increase by $1,000 each in 2005 and 2008. However, with the exception of an IRA to fund a child’s college education, there is a hefty penalty for IRA withdrawals before age 59 ½.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

Do I need insurance for a child going away to college?


With computers, TVs, printers, PDAs and MP3 players being shipped off to school, it is more important than ever that students and their parents purchase the appropriate insurance protection.

Theft can be a major concern on college campuses; according to U.S. Department of Education there were about 40,000 thefts in 2006. And campus fires are on the rise with a dramatic increase from a low of 1,800 fires in 1998 to 3,300 fires in 2005, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

For students who live in a dorm, most personal possessions are covered under their parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policies. However, some home insurance policies may limit the amount of insurance for off-premises belongings to 10 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal possessions. This means that if the parents have $70,000 worth of insurance for their belongings, only $7,000 would be applicable to possessions in the dorm. Not all insurers impose this type of limit, so you should check with your agent or insurance company representative.

Expensive computer and electronic equipment and items such as jewelry may also be subject to coverage limits under a standard homeowners policy. If the limits are too low, parents may consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement for these items. There are also stand-alone insurance policies for computers and cell phones.

Students and/or their parents may also want to consider purchasing a stand-alone policy specifically designed for students living away at college. This can be an economical way to provide additional insurance coverage for a variety of disasters.

Students who live off campus are likely not covered by their parents’ homeowners policy and may need to purchase their own renters insurance policy. Parents should consult their insurance agent or company representative to see if their homeowners or renters policy extends to off-campus living situations.

For students going off to college, the I.I.I. recommends the following:

  • Leave valuables at home if possible 
    While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items, such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics, should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box.
  • Create a “dorm inventory”
    Before leaving home, students should make a detailed inventory of all the items they are taking with them, and revise it every year. Having an up-to-date inventory will help get insurance claims settled faster in the event of theft, fire or other types of disasters. For an easy way to put together an inventory, use the I.I.I.’s free Home Inventory Software.
  • Engrave electronics 
    Engrave electronic items such as computers, televisions and portable devices like iPods with your name or other identifying information that can help police track the stolen articles.

The I.I.I. offers the following advice to guard against theft of your personal belongings on campus:

  • Always lock your dorm room door and keep your keys with you at all times, even if you leave briefly. And, not just at night—most dorm thefts occur during the day. Insist your roommates do the same.
  • Don’t leave belongings unattended on campus. Whether you are in class, the library, the dining hall or other public areas, keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times. These are the primary areas where property theft occurs.
  • Buy a laptop security cable and use it. A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to dissuade a thief.
  • Most campus fires are cooking related so be careful about the types of hot plates or microwaves you to bring to school, and how you use them.

In the event a student is planning to have a car on campus, choose a safe, reliable vehicle and do some comparison shopping to find the best auto insurance rate. You should also check with your own insurance company as it may offer a multi-policy discount. If you decide to keep the student’s car at home, be sure to contact your auto insurance company, as many insurers will give discounts for students who are living away school at least 100 miles away from home.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

Pokémon Go App Takes Millions Of Players To Exciting New Worlds; Insurance Can Help Make Those Worlds (And This One) Safer

Have Fun “Catching ‘Em All”—But If Things Get Out Of Hand, The Right Coverage Can Help Put The Pieces Back Together
JULY 13, 2016

Couple playing Pokemon Go

New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500;

NEW YORK, July 13, 2016Pokémon Go, a mobile app that allows users to hunt virtually for Pokémon in the real great outdoors, has taken the world by storm, amassing more users than Twitter in just a few days. However, like most cultural phenomena, Pokémon Go has also spawned unintended consequences, such as injuries and property damage resulting from distracted users—fortunately, most of these are covered by insurance, according to the Insurance information Institute (I.I.I.).

Even if you don’t know what Pokémon Go is, you’ve probably already seen it in action as there are few places immune from hordes of players scouring the neighborhood, smartphones in hand, hoping to “Catch ‘Em All.” Better still, these players are stepping outside for fresh air, exercise and to experience their world in new ways (or maybe not). Unfortunately some of them are also walking, biking, or skating into signposts, sewer grates and even each other—not to mention even more serious issues.

“We think it’s great that people are getting outside and enjoying Pokémon Go,” said Loretta Worters, vice president with the I.I.I. “But it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and be sure you’re adequately protected against risk.”

So, even if you fall hard chasing a Charizard, know that you’re covered if you have the right types of insurance, including:

Homeowners And Renters Insurance

While you’re out and about pursuing those elusive pocket monsters, rest assured that your possessions are covered if thieves break into your home. And, if someone runs off with your mobile phone, you’re in luck if you have cellphone insurance—though it might not reimburse for your lost Pokémon!

Also, if you accidentally trample somebody’s flowerbed while hot on the trail of a Bellossome (or a fellow player is injured in your home and decides to sue), most homeowners and renters policies have coverage for damage you cause to other peoples’ property and possessions as well as liability for mishaps on your property. Lastly, your Pokédex may be in good order, but you might also want to consider creating an inventory of your real possessions, which can make filing a claim easier in the event of an insurable loss.

Motor Vehicle Related Incidents

Hit while running down a Rotom? Depending on who’s at fault (and local statutes), you may be able to file a claim against the driver’s auto liability insurance policy. Almost all states require that vehicle owners and drivers carry liability insurance to cover personal injuries to third parties. Or your own uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage may pick up the tab if not.

Identity Theft And Cybercrime

Sure, the game’s called Pokémon Go but it’s really your data that’s in play. If thieves make off with your information, many insurers will cover identity theft, either as part of a homeowners or renters policy or as a stand-alone policy. Identity theft insurance reimburses victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing credit reports and related expenses.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

Lightning Safety: Myths vs. Facts


With 1,800 thunderstorms in progress at any given time on Earth, it’s important to be able to sort out the myths from the facts when it comes to lightning safety. And keep in mind that the best lightning safety plan of all is to take shelter in a house or other structure, or a hard-topped fully enclosed vehicle during a storm: “When thunder roars, go indoors!”
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building was once used as a lightning laboratory, because it’s hit nearly 25 times per year, and has been known to have been hit up to a dozen times during a single storm.
Fact: Lightning is indiscriminate and it can find you anywhere. Lightning hits the ground instead of trees, cars instead of nearby telephone poles, and parking lots instead of buildings.
Fact: Sheltering under a tree is just about the worst thing you can do. If lightning does hit the tree, there’s the chance that a “ground charge” will spread out from the tree in all directions. Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties.
Fact: Lightning can often strike more than three miles from the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or even the thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the Blue,” though infrequent, can strike 10?15 miles from the thunderstorm. Anvil lightning can strike the ground over 50 miles from the thunderstorm, under extreme conditions.
Fact: Most vehicles are safe because the metal roof and sides divert lightning around you. The rubber tires have little to do with protecting you. Keep in mind that convertibles, motorcycles, bikes, open shelled outdoor recreation vehicles, and cars with plastic or fiberglass shells offer no lightning protection at all.
Fact: Lying flat on the ground makes you more vulnerable to electrocution, not less. Lightning generates potentially deadly electrical currents along the ground in all directions, which are more likely to reach you if you’re lying down.
Fact: The human body doesn’t store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid.
Fact: The presence of metal makes virtually no difference in determining where lightning will strike; height, pointy shape and isolation are the dominant factors. However, touching or being near long metal objects, such as a fence, can be unsafe when thunderstorms are nearby—if lightning does happen to hit one area of the fence, for example, the metal can conduct the electricity and electrocute you, even at a fairly long distance
Fact: While a house is the safest place you can be during a storm, just going inside isn’t enough. You must avoid any conducting path leading outside, such as corded telephones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, plumbing, metal doors or window frames, etc. Don’t stand near a window to watch the lightning. An inside room is generally safe, but a home equipped with a professionally installed lightning protection system is the safest shelter available.
Fact: Surge arresters and suppressors are important components of a complete lightning protection system, but can do nothing to protect a structure against a direct lightning strike. These items must be installed in conjunction with a lightning protection system to provide whole house protection.
Source: Insurance Information Institute

Wedding and Special Event Insurance

Often referred to as “wedding” insurance, special event insurance can be used to cover a 50th anniversary party, a bar mitzvah, a graduation party or any special occasion you might be planning. Special event insurance is designed to provide financial protection if you have to cancel or postpone a gathering due to adverse weather and natural disasters such as hurricanes.

Most policies also provide coverage for cancellation due to the death, illness or serious injury of a key participants in the event, such as members of the immediate family. Also, if an officiant, such as a minister or rabbi, or a key vendor, like the caterer, florist or photographer, does not show up, you can recover some of the costs.

Prices range from around $125 up to approximately $400 depending on the amount of coverage you need.

Additional riders may include coverage for:

  • Military service—in the event the bride or groom is in the military or active reserves, and is suddenly called to duty.
  • Gowns and tuxedos—includes stores going out of business or damage to the clothing.
  • Gifts—if gifts are not covered by your homeowners or renters insurance, provides protection against theft or damage of gifts.
  • Honeymoon—in case you need to cancel your trip due to illness, bad weather or other circumstances.
  • Professional counseling—when the cancellation or postponement of the event causes severe emotional stress (a doctor’s note will be needed).

Many companies also offer separate liability insurance, but be aware that many event sites already have their own liability insurance. If you are holding the event at home, however, you may want to purchase liability insurance above and beyond what is provided under your homeowners policy.

Before purchasing special event or wedding insurance, find out the following:

  • Whether the insurance company is licensed to do business in the state where you live. This information is available from your State Insurance Department.
  • How much the policy will cost and how much reimbursement you can expect if a loss occurs.
  • What, specifically, is and is not covered by the policy.
  • Whether you have coverage elsewhere through credit cards, warranties or through home, auto or liability or other insurance policies you may already have.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

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Insuring Personal Watercraft

Personal watercraft are not generally covered by homeowners or auto insurance, and where they are, the coverage limits can be fairly low. You may need to purchase a specifically designed policy in order to insure these vessels. The personal watercraft policy covers:
  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Guest passenger liability
  • Medical payments
  • Theft

Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1,000 for medical payments, although these may vary from company to company.Liability limits start at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000. This coverage will provide financial protection if your personal watercraft is involved in an accident.

Most policies also include water sports liability, which covers risks associated with activities such as waterskiing.

Consider buying an umbrella policy which will provide more liability protection. One million dollars in extra coverage costs about $300 a year and would extend to your home and auto insurance policies.

If you have several personal watercraft, you may qualify for a multi-boat discount on your insurance. Additional coverage can also be purchased for trailers and other accessories.

Be sure to speak with your insurance agent or company representative about your specific needs.

Personal Watercraft Safety

Sea Doos, Wave Runners and other personal watercraft are fun and so easy to use that you can get a false sense of security; however, each year they cause thousands of serious injuries.To safely enjoy your personal watercraft, the I.I.I. suggests the following:

  • Never follow directly behind another personal watercraft. Stay at least 100 yards behind the vessel in front, and no less than 50 yards to one side. Because these vessels can travel at a very high rate of speed, each rider must be able to react to sudden changes in order to avoid a collision. Eighty percent of all injuries and fatalities occur when two vessels collide with one another.
  • Don’t jump the wake of a passing boat. You could misjudge its speed and cause a collision. Or you might end up in the path of traffic coming from the other direction.
  • Stay alert! Be aware of what is going on around you. Steer clear of other watercraft, swimmers, divers, water skiers and fishermen.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

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