The number and types of living situations have become very diverse. Couples choose to live together prior to marriage; older couples are residing together but deciding not to re-marry. Same-sex couples may be unable to marry due to state law but are living together in a single residence. Domestic partners, same-sex marriages and other relationships can cause problems with your insurance.
Situations like these can create coverage problems with the home owners’ or renters’ policy. These policies typically give coverage to certain groups of people as defined in the policy:
1. “You” or the named insured. Typically, this is the person that owns the property (on the deed) or is on the lease agreement. For a homeowner’s policy, many companies require the person be listed on the deed of the dwelling.
2. The named insured’s resident “spouse”, as defined by the laws of your state. The legal spouse of the person named above.
3. The “resident relatives” of the person named on the policy. They can related be blood or by marriage or adoption. Examples would be parents, children, step children and grandchildren.
4. “Minor children”, for whom the named insured is responsible. Examples of these would be foster children or children the named insured has legal guardianship for.
This policy language can create problems and coverage gaps for roommates and other non-married partners. Also, the policy does not provide for coverage for a non-related person living at home or apartment listed in the policy.
Couples that are residing together and not legally married by the laws of their state, need to be cautious to make sure all the individuals residing in the home are “insureds” under the policy. It is important that you discuss your specific living situation with your agent. Often times the roommate or unmarried partner that is not on the lease or on the deed will need to carry their own separate renters’ policy to cover their property, liability and loss of use exposures. If you are in a non-traditional family living situation, do not assume that you have coverage, read you policy carefully and seek the advice of your agent.