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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.

**Information provided by The Insurance Information Institute: www.iii.org**
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