What do you need when you go from single to married?

Insurance Tips for Newly Married Couples

by Paige Estigarribia

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As you are preparing to go from the single life to married, maybe the thought of insurance has crossed your mind. As a single, maybe you've only had insurance to cover your basic needs. But, if you're a recent newlywed, you may be wondering how your insurance needs have changed. We contacted Matt Becker, a fee-only financial planner and the founder of Mom and Dad Money, to give us answers on some questions we had about newlywed insurance needs. Here's what he had to say:

Q. How are newlywed insurance needs different from single person insurance needs?

Mr. Becker: When you're starting a family, you need to start thinking about how to protect your family's needs as well as your own. For example, if you're purchasing a house together, life insurance may be a good way to ensure that your spouse could handle the cost of the mortgage even if you weren't around to help. When you start having children, life insurance would make sure they had the financial resources they needed, no matter what, even in the years before they're able to provide for themselves. Long-term disability insurance would make sure that you always had an income to provide for your family, even if health issues kept you out of work for an extended period of time.

Essentially, insurance is meant to protect people financially from events they wouldn't be able to handle on their own. Starting a family just means that you have a few more people to consider.

Q. And what about reviewing, updating, or changing existing policies?

Mr. Becker: Marriage is a big change in financial circumstances, so it's definitely a good time to review your existing insurance coverage.

One area to review is your health insurance coverage. You now have the option of hopping on your spouse's plan and vice-versa, so take the time to see whose coverage best lines up with your personal needs. You may be able to save yourself some money and find better coverage in the process.

You will also want to review the beneficiary designations on any life insurance policies you have and update them to your spouse, if that's what you would like.

Q. Does being married create an additional need for life insurance?

Mr. Becker: Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. The simple test is to ask yourself whether your spouse would be able to handle all of his or her financial obligations without you around to help. If you don't have any joint obligations, the answer to that question is usually "yes," and there may not be any need for life insurance at all. But if you have joint obligations like a mortgage, then life insurance can be a good way to protect your spouse from having to handle that obligation on their own.

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Q. How often should newlyweds plan to reevaluate insurance needs?

Mr. Becker: Anytime there's a significant change in your life, that's a good time to review your insurance coverage. This would include things like getting married, having a child, buying a house, and changing jobs. Anything that significantly changes your financial circumstances could change the kind of coverage you need.

Beyond that, I would also recommend doing an annual review just to make sure that your current coverage matches your needs. You would hate to be paying for something you don't need or to not have coverage you do need, and those regular check-ins can help to keep your coverage aligned with your life.

Q. What, in the realm of insurance, do newlyweds tend to overlook?

Mr. Becker: It's not just newlyweds, but I see many people who don't have the right kind of disability insurance. Long-term disability insurance would serve to replace your income if health issues ever kept you out of work for an extended period of time. As a young professional with many working years ahead of you, your future income is actually your biggest asset and protecting it is a must. Disability insurance is a great way to do it.

I also see many young couples sold on the benefits of whole life insurance. While there are certain circumstances in which it can be a useful product, the vast majority of the population has no need for it and their money would honestly be better used elsewhere, like retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs.

Going from single to married presents many different changes and adjustments. Hopefully these tips can you help you navigate your way through your own insurance needs as you go from a single to newlywed life.

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