In this era of societal changes, laws are being enacted which impact the lifestyle of many people. Definitions of lifetime relationships are evolving at a pace many would hope would even accelerate as individuals are confronted by such changes. The definition of what constitutes a family runs the gamut from the traditional mother and father with their children to any group of individuals who share something in common. This could be a sports team, members of a choir, a dance troupe, church group, members of a scientific research team, survivors of a ship sunk at sea, or a gang on a street, etc. These all conjure up a feeling of belonging which adds stability to our life’s sojourn.
One other definition which is being modified, reinvented, expanded, and pushed beyond the long standing definition is our societal concept of a marriage, which has been defined as the legal pronouncement of a single man and a single woman committing their personal selves to one another. “Do you, Mary, take John by the right hand and promise to love and cherish him for as long as you both shall live? And do you John, take Mary by the right hand and promise to love and cherish her as long as you both shall live?” After their positive utterances, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss each other as husband and wife, legally and lawfully wedded under the authority I have as a minister for the State of Idaho.”
This now is only one way individuals are using to form the marriage commitment. Other methods include making up your own ceremony with no religious or government official being involved, agreeing to just move in together, or just agreeing to have an open relationship with one individual while maintaining a romantic relationship with another.
With this being Pride Month, it might be wise to explore how two men or two women making the choice to form a marriage contract affects the insurance policies they may purchase.
Many States recognize the legality of this contract while some insurance companies still have language in their homeowner policies which may or may not identify both as being parties to the coverage afforded under the homeowner policy.
In most homeowner policies definitions are contractually included as to what coverages are available and who is recognized as an insured under the policy. A case in point comes from a homeowner policy issued in the State of Idaho. It reads “Insured means you or the entity named in the Declarations. The following are also insureds.
- If you are a person, insured also means, if residents of your household, your spouse, your relatives, and minors in the care of you or your relatives. Insured does not include a relative age 25 or over who is a student and lives away from your residence dwelling while attending school.
- If you are a trust, insured also means the trustees, but only with respect to their duties as a trustee.
- Under Section 2, Insured means a person operating your watercraft or recreational motor vehicle within the scope of your permission.
- Under Section 2, Insured means a person in charge of your domestic animals (a) to which section 2 applies,(b) with your permission, and (c) in your activities covered by this policy. (Section 2 is the personal liability section of this homeowner policy). (Idaho Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, City Squire, p.2 of 38)
The one place which may provide coverage for both parties in this marriage relationship may come from the definition where “your spouse” is identified. It would be well to review your homeowner policy with your agent prior to a claim just to be sure one of you meets the definition of “a spouse.”
If it is a marriage relationship or just a move-in arrangement, you can request the insurance company include on the declaration page both your name and the name of your marriage partner or roommate. This simple adjustment will extend all the benefits of your homeowner policy to them. There may be an additional premium charged to include an additional named insured but sure would be worth the peace of mind afforded.
With so many now buying a home as a partner with no legal connections, you can cover your interest prior to a loss as well by making sure all parties concerned are again listed on the declaration page. An adjuster will have a difficult time identifying what each party to a loss has at the time of a loss, but he or she would only have to establish the amount of the loss and make the settlement check payable to both parties–they then can figure out who gets what.
Another reason to have your names on the declaration page has to do with being able to have a history of having a homeowner policy in your name (this is particularly important with an automobile policy). Just in case the relationship does not work out, your insurance interest will be attended to until you can replace it with a policy of your own. You will not have lapse in coverage; and if you stay with the same company you may still qualify for the discounts provided for clients with longevity.
As one recognizes Pride month, this would be a good time to review where you stand and make whatever adjustments you may need to so your insurance policy does what you intend it to.