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Five questions to ask before you tie the knot

(BPT) - “I’m so lucky I’m marrying my best friend,” is a phrase you often hear in wedding toasts. Now that you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, make sure you protect each other by considering the bigger financial picture.

According to Wedding Paper Divas, 47 percent of engaged couples spend between one and nine hours per week planning their weddings, but it’s unlikely that much of that time is spent planning for life after the big day.

“Getting married is the perfect time to take a fresh look at your entire financial picture, including your insurance needs,” says Doug Smith, senior vice president of the Personal Lines division at Erie Insurance. “It’s much better to plan before the wedding so there are no surprises later.”

Here are five key insurance questions to discuss with your spouse-to-be before taking a walk down the aisle:

Where’s my bling?

Chances are you spent a lot of time and money picking out rings you’ll love and wear every day. But according to asecurelife.com, one in 36 homes in the United States will be broken into this year, so it’s important to make sure you have the right insurance to cover your rings if they’re lost or stolen.

Your strategy: Have your rings appraised to establish their value. Keep your store receipts and take a picture of the rings. Having pictures and documentation helps speed up the claims process if you have to file a claim. Also, keep your rings in a safe deposit box when you’re not wearing them.

Baby, can you drive my car?

Once you’re married, your spouse generally will be covered on your auto insurance policy and vice versa. This could mean opportunities for savings.

Your strategy: Once you become a two-car home, you may be eligible for a multi-car discount. You should also consider bundling your car insurance with your homeowners and/or life insurance which can result in even more savings. Additionally, some insurance companies offer a lower rate for married couples, so talk to your insurance agent to find out if this applies to your policy.

Have you protected the things that make your house a home?

Are you planning to move into a new home after the honeymoon? Whether or not your living situation changes, make sure your home and belongings are protected.

Your strategy: Consider what new pieces will be added to your abode. If you purchase new furniture, art pieces or any other new belongings, it’s a good idea to make sure those items are covered in case of theft, fire, or natural disaster.

You’ll also want to make sure your home insurance covers 100 percent of the cost to rebuild your home if needed. “Do your research,” says Smith. “Some insurance companies cap their coverage at a certain amount. That means you could find yourself substantially underinsured, even if you thought you were paying for so-called ‘replacement cost’ insurance.”

What do you need to do before plunging into a remodeling project?

Even if you’re not purchasing a new home, two people in a house means you need more space, so you may be adding on to your existing home. This can mean workers doing potentially dangerous jobs in the home.

Your strategy: When you hire a contractor, request a certificate of insurance to confirm their liability and workers’ compensation coverages. Review the certificate and your homeowners policy.

Have you thought about life after you say “I do?”

When you get married, you may become part of a dual-income household. When this happens, you plan your future based on a new budget created by two incomes, which brings increased financial responsibility. Should something happen, surviving family members could struggle without the right level of protection.

Your strategy: Make sure your spouse is protected if one income is lost. Universal life insurance provides insurance for your entire life and builds a cash value. Term life insurance provides affordable coverage for a set number of years. Some websites, including erieinsurance.com, offer online calculators to help you determine how much insurance you need. As you begin to build a nest egg, you have more assets to protect. A personal umbrella policy provides extra protection for you and your family against lawsuits arising from personal injury or property damage claims.

While it’s important to plan for rain on your wedding day and to make sure everyone has a place card, it’s even more important to plan for what comes after the moment you say “I do.” Making the proper insurance and financial arrangements will be a load off your mind if something should arise.

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