Whether moving across town or across the country, you probably have a to-do list longer than your arm and may feel like you're up to your elbows in boxes and bubble wrap.
As you bring order out of chaos, don't let insurance matters get lost in the shuffle.
Some of your insurance needs will change when you move and, at the very least, your insurance companies need to know how to find you. Here's a checklist for what to do.
Call your insurance company or agent two months before the move to discuss what policy changes you might need, advises Esurance, the direct-to-consumer insurer owned by Allstate. If you're moving out of state, you could stick with your company if it does business in the new area, but you might need to add coverage or adjust limits. Insurance requirements vary by state.
Don't be surprised if your car insurance rates change, even if you move only a few miles away. Car insurance rates usually vary by ZIP code.
You should also inform your auto insurer of any other changes a move might entail. Let the company know if you're combining households with a significant other or getting married. You may want to increase auto insurance liability limits if you're buying a home. The limits should be high enough to protect your assets. Tell the insurer if your commuting distance to work or school will change. A shorter commute could mean a drop in rates.
Moving a long distance? Make sure the shipping company covers your car if you're shipping the vehicle, Esurance advises. Your current coverage should cover you if you're driving to the new location.
Let the insurance company know your new address as close to the move as possible. If you're changing insurers, let the new company know when the new policy begins, but don't cancel your current coverage until the new coverage is in place.
Insure.com has customer satisfaction ratings for auto insurers.
Check whether your home insurance policy will cover your stuff in transit. Some policies cover your belongings while they're in a moving truck, and others don't cover items once they're out of your home, according to State Farm. If your belongings aren't covered in transit, inquire about coverage through the moving company.
Buying a new home? Most state laws require that you have home insurance for the new property before the closing takes place. The coverage will begin as soon as the purchase is final. Don't cancel your current home insurance policy until after the sale of your former home closes.
Moving to an apartment or rental home? Get quotes for renters insurance, which covers your belongings and provides liability protection.
Here's what to do in the following scenarios:
- You're keeping the same group health plan: If you keep your job in the move, talk to the human resources department. If the company offers different plans in different regions, then you may need to change coverage if you move out of state. If your current plan is available in your new location, then you can keep it. Just make sure any doctors or other medical providers you want to see are in the network before you schedule appointments after the move.
- You're changing jobs and workplace health plans. If you're eligible for a group health plan at your new workplace, you may be able to move seamlessly into the new coverage. But if the new job doesn't start right away, or if the new health plan has a waiting period, you can fill the gap through COBRA,which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act. It lets you continue coverage from your previous employer-sponsored group plan at your own expense. You can buy COBRA health insurance for just a month or two, if that's all you need. Just make sure the plan has a network of providers in your area, or you'll be paying for coverage you can't use.
- You change jobs when you move and lose group health coverage: You can buy an individual health plan or you can elect COBRA continuation coverage. Losing coverage enables you to purchase an individual health plan on the state or federally run marketplace outside open enrollment. Moving is also an event that qualifies you for a special open enrollment period. You can also buy a plan directly from an insurer or through a health insurance agent. The special open enrollment period lasts 60 days. The state health insurance marketplace might offer lower rates than COBRA coverage, particularly if you qualify for a government-funded subsidy on health insurance. Don't elect COBRA if you think you want to buy your own plan outside open enrollment. If you've elected COBRA, you're no longer eligible for a special enrollment period.
- You have an individual or family health plan: Contact the health insurer about your move. You can keep the plan if it serves your new locale. Bear in mind that the rates may change. Health insurance rates are based in part on geography. If your plan doesn't serve your new hometown, then you can buy a new health plan outside the annual open enrollment period. Go to HealthCare.gov for details on qualifying for a special enrollment period and how to shop for new coverage.
Your life insurance
Give your new address to your life insurance company as soon as you move. This is also a good time to review your policies and make sure they're up to date.
Designating life insurance beneficiaries is not a set-it-and-forget-it event. You should review beneficiaries every few years and after major life changes to make sure the choices reflect your wishes. When reviewing their clients' policies, financial advisers say they often find ex-spouses mistakenly listed as beneficiaries because the policy owners forgot to update after divorce or remarriage.
This is also a good time to review your circumstances and whether you need more or less coverage by using our Life Insurance Advisor tool.
Finally, use this transition as an opportunity to tell loved ones about your life insurance coverage and how to find the policies. Keeping details about life insurance secret from heirs can lead to chaos later when they are unable to make the claim.