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Noyes, Hall & Allen Blog

Love, Insurance Style: Marriage, Divorce and Your Home and Auto Insurance

November 9th, 2012     Noyes Hall & Allen

 

On November 6, 2012, Maine voters approved citizen initiative Question One, allowing same sex marriage. Yes on One proponents claimed that only marriage, granted same sex couples equality with their heterosexual counterparts. No on One proponents were concerned that a change in the traditional definition of marriage as “one woman, one man” might affect many aspects of life.

How Important is Marriage in Insurance?

In a word, VERY. Most people justifiably think medical insurance is the type most affected by marriage. That’s where most of the public discussion is, too. But Maine homeowners and auto insurance contracts also treat spouses very differently than other people. We thought it was important to share how being married affects your Maine home and auto insurance. Our discussion is limited to ISO homeowners and personal auto policy forms. These are the most common forms in Maine. Although they are industry standards, your policy form may be different.

What Happens to Your Homeowners Insurance When you Get Married?

Spouses who reside in the same household are automatically defined as “YOU”. In insurance, it’s good to be YOU.

It’s worth taking a step back to see who is an INSURED on a homeowners policy. On most policies, an

INSURED is defined as:

  • YOU;
  • your resident relatives;
  • full time students who are < 24 and your relatives, and lived with you prior to moving out; and
  • certain other minors in your care.

Perhaps you can see a problem here for couples who are not married: Are they insured or not?

To answer that, we have to ask the grammatically incorrect question, “who is YOU?”

“YOU” is defined as:

  • The Named Insured, as shown on the front page of the policy (called the Declarations);
  • That person’s spouse if they are a resident of the same household.
AHA! So, if you and your partner bought property together, and are both listed as Named Insureds in the Declarations, you’re all set. But what if your name isn’t on the policy? You’re not an insured!  What if your partner bought the house and you moved in later? Sorry, you’re not an insured. 

What if you were married instead?

Even if your name was not on the policy, you are a YOU as long as you live in the same household. Pretty important, don’t you think? Let’s say you move in with someone who already owned a home. In this case – which is quite common – being married is the difference between having insurance for your property and protection from lawsuits and having none at all!
Of course, this example applies to any couples, straight or gay.

How Marriage Affects Auto Insurance

The definition of YOU in the auto policy is quite similar. It includes the Named Insured and a spouse who is a resident of the household. One additional benefit of being married in an auto insurance policy is that the policy: your interest in the policy transfers to a surviving resident spouse upon your death.

Warning!

You probably noticed that a spouse must be a resident of the same household to have all of these benefits. If you separate, your status changes. Divorce affects your homeowners and auto insurance, too. It’s important that you contact your Maine insurance agent to talk about these situations. They can help you make sure that you remain insured, one way or another.

If you live in Southern Maine and are looking for an Portland Maine area independent insurance agency that can answer these and other insurance  questions, call Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799.-5541.

 

 

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