Marius Steyn, Manager of Personal Underwriting, and Marius Neethling, Manager of Personal Lines Underwriting at Santam, unpacks a few considerations every couple needs to think about when merging households.

Aside from the obvious emotional and financial aspects, there are lots of insurance matters to consider as well.

When you move in together, depending on the nature and seriousness of your relationship, an insurer will usually consider you to be the equivalent of a common-law husband and wife. This means you can take out a policy together.

Steyn and Neethling suggest a few aspects to take into consideration while merging households.

Moving in together often results in a staggering amount of “stuff”, which means you and your partner will probably need to update your household contents insurance.

If your relationship is seen as sufficiently serious, insurers look for things like how long you’ve been together and if you’ve co-purchased things like furniture – if so, an insurer will treat you the same as they would a married couple.

This means you can take out a joint policy, with one person being the main policyholder and the other, the additional insured.

Some considerations:

The main policyholder will be paid out in the event of a claim. It’ll then be up to him/her to pay the additional insured. Insurers don’t get involved in these politics and are in no way responsible if the policyholder does not pay his/her partner.

If you both have separate household contents policies with different insurers and are wondering which insurer to go with, don’t just pick the lowest premium price – consider the benefits and excesses.

Get your household contents evaluated so you’re certain you’re adequately covered for the replacement value of all your combined items.

When your household contents are on the move between properties, there’s no need to stress – your cover won’t be cut off. You should, however, notify your insurer of the new address prior to the day you move.

If you have an engagement ring, for example, or other things of value you frequently take outside the house, you’ll need to separately insure these items on the all-risk section of your policy.

It’s in your interest to tell your insurer about all the security features in your new home. Generally, there will be specific security requirements in order to qualify for burglary and theft cover.

If you happen to argue and temporarily move out, taking some of your household contents with you, these items will still be covered in your temporary abode, providing this is a private building.

This only applies to a temporary situation though – if it’s a permanent split, then you’ll need your own new policy.

Remember to add your partner as a regular driver on your policy, especially if he or she uses your vehicle more frequently than you do.

If sadly, the relationship comes to an end, then it’s best to get your own policy as soon as possible, especially if you have one policy between you, but you’re not the main policyholder.

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