First-date chatter typically revolves around where you grew up, where you went to college and whether you’re a dog or cat person. By the 15th date, sweethearts may have swapped horror stories of past blind dates or exchanged names they’d bestow upon their first child. Once the one-year anniversary rolls around, couples most likely have picked pet names for each other and have discussed their life goals in detail.
On Valentine's Day, talk between lovebirds almost certainly will involve matters of the heart. But at some point, sweethearts need to discuss matters of the wallet -- including insurance.
Susan Perry, a psychologist and author of "Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way," says the more alike a couple’s values are, the great chance they have of sticking together. “Values and goals around finances is one of the major issues couples fight over,” Perry says.
That includes your insurance values.
“If one partner cares deeply about the future and wants to take steps like purchasing life insurance to ensure that the couple will be financially secure through the years, and the other doesn’t, the 'planner-ahead' will feel less cherished. Such differences can grate so deeply over time that love can erode," Perry warns.
Insurance differences also can cost you money that you don’t even have.
“If your partner drives with reckless abandon and doesn’t care that this behavior could drive you crazy while it’s driving up insurance rates, the two of you might be ‘insurance incompatible’,” says Dan Weedin, an insurance consultant in Seattle.
Keeping your love alive
Susan Newman, a social psychologist and author of "The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It -- and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever," says having the “insurance talk” is one way to make sure you’re both on the same page. Or if you’re even reading the same insurance book.
“This type of conversation helps couples find out if potential differences could lead to heartache,” Newman says.
She adds: “It’s wise for all couples, no matter how long they’ve been together, to discuss all financial goals because a person’s views and values may change over time. You want to make sure the two of you are, and remain, in sync."
Are you an insurance match?
What's the best way to determine whether your Valentine is your insurance soul mate? These scenarios could signal that you may be “insurance incompatible” and that the two of you need to have the “insurance talk."
Scenario A. If you’re dating
You sweetie's tailgating, defiance of speed limits and constant texting while driving could be a sign that he doesn’t value a good-driver discount on his auto insurance. In fact, he may be irresponsible in other areas of his financial life. “That’s a red flag you should address sooner rather than later to avoid heartache down the road,” Perry says.
Scenario B. If you live together or are engaged
You moved into his house and your name isn’t on the mortgage or the home insurance policy.
“This gap in coverage leaves you at risk if there’s a claim because the person named on the policy is the one whose name will be on the insurance check,” Weedin says. “You need to discuss the option of taking out a separate policy to cover your things in the event you suffer a loss.”
Scenario C. If you’re married
He won’t buy life insurance because he thinks it'll jinx him and he’ll die prematurely. Weedin says this is a tricky situation.
“I’ve seen too many instances where couples, even young couples, have waited to purchase life insurance and someone dies, leaving their spouse without money to cover funeral expenses, keep their home or pay monthly bills," Weedin says.
Ready to talk?
Texting is a great way to whisper high-tech sweet nothings to each other. But when it comes to the insurance talk, spare your thumbs. A conversation to assess your insurance compatibility should be done face-to-face.
“This affects your future and deserves your undivided attention,” Newman says.
These tips can help ensure your insurance talk is fruitful:
- Choose a neutral place. Pick a spot where you’re both comfortable, Newman says -- "not your favorite restaurant or your partner’s favorite coffeehouse." Neutral ground removes the chance that one of you will feel attacked.
- Timing is everything. “Don’t discuss this, or any serious matters that impact your future, at the end of a long day,” Perry says. At that time, you’re both exhausted from working, running errands, caring for the kids or cleaning the house. This exhaustion increases the odds that your conversation will flare up into a fight.
- Don't judge. Wherever and whenever you decide to have the "insurance talk," remain open-minded. If your mate declares that she doesn’t believe in life insurance, don’t roll your eyes or shout, "You’re crazy!” Newman says that won’t close the great insurance divide. Instead, talk about why she holds this belief as you try to resolve the issue.