These days, it seems that more people are in a committed domestic partnership than are married. In fact, many people in both same and opposite sex relationships are choosing to live together and share financial and other responsibilities with each other without actually entering into a traditional marriage relationship. If you are in a domestic partnership, but performing the traditional role of a married spouse, like serving as your partner’s emergency contact, purchasing a vehicle with your partner, or jointly buying a home, issues like property ownership, child custody, and employment benefits come into play. Though you may not have considered it, domestic partners and insurance go hand in hand.
There are some cities and states that recognize homosexual and heterosexual domestic partnerships and allow certain rights based on these partnerships. In some areas, there are registries so that couples can officially state their partnership for the legal record. This provides assistance couples seeking certain rights and insurance benefits for their permanent living situation. If you want to get registered, you generally have to meet the following conditions: 18 years of age or older, permanently living with your partner, not in relationship with anyone else, and living in the same city/state that allows domestic partnership registration. There may be other requirements, depending upon the locale.
Insurance is Necessary
Insurance for domestic partners is complicated, and buying the right coverage can be difficult. An experienced independent insurance agent can help you and your partner figure out how your insurance is impacted once you move in and begin your lives together. For long-term couples, your agent can help as your needs change over time. The following is a brief overview of several common types of insurance which domestic partners need to consider.
If you share a car (or more than one car) with your domestic partner, then you need to consider modifying your auto insurance. Speak to your independent agent about naming one person as the primary driver and the other as the secondary driver. So, if an accident happens, the couple will be protected, no matter who was behind the wheel. The probability of your claim being denied or coverage limits reduced is also greatly diminished. Depending upon the insurance company, there may be domestic partner, multi-driver, and multi-vehicle discounts available too.
If you and your domestic partner purchase a home together, make sure that both of your names are on the property deed, the mortgage loan, and the home insurance coverage. Having only one name on everything means that the other person in the relationship needs to make a decision. Either, the house owner can get an endorsement on their home insurance policy to cover the belongings of other people (including their partner), or the non-owner can take out a renter’s insurance policy. This will also help to protect their belongings inside the house, should a loss occur.
If you are in a domestic partnership, the amount of health insurance benefits you can claim will vary based on the employer and the state you live in. Some only offer sick or bereavement leave, while other may offer full health, dental, and vision benefits. Many employers will want proof of your relationship status. It is best to check with your employer to understand how they define “family member” and “dependent.” A more flexible definition could allow for your partner and children to enroll in your health insurance.
If you are in the market for health insurance, or want to examine your current coverage, just know that not all insurance companies offer coverage for a policyholder’s domestic partner. Nevertheless, an agent will help you find a provider who does. They may start by evaluating your own, or your partner’s, existing coverage, whether it is through an employer, or privately purchased, so that they can assess whether you or your partner is eligible to be added as an insured under either policy. They can either help you in extending your coverage or direct you to a company that will cover both of you. They will do the same for home insurance, auto insurance, and other kinds of coverage, based on what you are looking to buy.
Speak to an Agent
Since state laws, not federal, govern domestic partnerships, an agent who is familiar with your state’s policies and regulations is a great resource. They know how your state handles home, life, health, and other insurance coverage for domestic partners. And, if you are interested in buying a kind of coverage that they do not sell, they can connect you with another independent insurance agent – quite possibly within their own office – who does. They work with insurance providers that offer a variety of policies to fit individual needs, and they can help you and your partner make sure you get adequate coverage at a reasonable price.
If you are in a domestic partnership, you know that certain things can seem to be more complicated than they are for people who are married. Whether it is evaluating health insurance benefits through an employer, applying for a mortgage or another loan, or even paying taxes, you and your partner might face challenges that married couples can avoid. An independent insurance agent can work with you and your partner to determine how your insurance needs are impacted by your relationship, whether or not you need new policies, or if you should change your current coverage. They will also answer your questions, and make sure that you understand your policies’ terms and exclusions, so that you will not be blindsided in the event of a claim.
Working with an independent insurance agent means that you can get the help you need to purchase the right insurance policies for your family. Whether you need coverage for yourself and your partner, car or health insurance for your children, or a policy for items like artwork, or a boat, an independent insurance agent has a wealth of knowledge they can use to your benefit. They understand the special situation faced by domestic partners today, and can be a professional, but personable guide for you and your partner. That way, you can make sure that if you need it, your insurance coverage will be there.
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Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.
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