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“All you need is love!” sang the Beatles. “Love is all you need!” Alas, in this month of romance, all too often we are reminded that sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.Too often instead of lasting “until the twelfth of never,” an increasing number of current relationships apparently follow Stephen Stills’ advice: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” And so slowly ebbs “the two shall become one, till death do you part,” replaced with the sentiment behind John Mellencamp’s plaintive plea for “some girl who’ll thrill me, and then go away.”According to the U.S. Census, in 2007 there were more than 6 million-plus households consisting of unmarried opposite sex partners. Although not yet a reason for Vegas wedding chapels to shutter their doors and lay off the Elvis impersonators, those numbers more than double the same statistic from a decade earlier. At least one child under age 18 was present in more than 60 percent of those households. Even these figures don’t begin to illustrate the number of “blended” households, where even if the adults are married, the kids are “yours, mine, ours,” and possibly a couple of stepkids inherited from a previous spouse. Oh, and don’t forget some of the kids may regularly split their “home time” between former spouses who maintain either joint custody or at least extensive visitation rights. Make those kids of driving age, and Billy Joel’s “Pressure” moves from a frame of mind to a way of life.Our wonderful world of insurance cannot fail to be dragged along in the riptide, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer. Yet our policy language still speaks as if all insureds are Ozzie and Harriet, and families are as traditional and unchangeable as Ward Cleaver’s wardrobe.Look at the definition of “you” and “your” in the latest edition of the ISO Personal Auto policy (PP 00 01 05):Throughout this policy, “you” and “your” refer to:1. The “named insured” shown in the Declarations and2. The spouse if a resident of the same household.If the spouse ceases to be a resident of the same household during the policy period or prior to the inception of this policy, the spouse will be considered “you” and “your” under this policy but only until the earlier of:1. The end of 90 days following the spouse’s change of residency2. The effective date of another policy listing the spouse as a named insured or3. The end of the policy period.Isn’t that romantic? For any named insured, ISO automatically includes the spouse: “and the two shall become one.” Even if our lovebirds are bound by holy matrimony, the personal auto policy’s (PAP’s) Eisenhower-era approach doesn’t brook any nonsense, requiring the spouse to be a resident of the same household. What kind of true spouse would be living elsewhere? Separate households to pursue individual career opportunities? Shameless! Available job location conflicts with raising kids in desired community? Appalling! One kid is a future Olympian, so Mom moves to Colorado to accompany daughter in full-time training, and Dad stays in Buffalo with the rest of the kids? Harlot!The only concession to a changing society was added a few years ago. In almost grudging language, the policy agrees to continue coverage on a formerly resident spouse for 90 days–which may terminate even sooner if the policy ends before then.And what of those millions of adults who cohabit without matrimony? Whether they’re oldsters preserving retirement and medical benefits, middle-aged and seniors keeping estates separate for inheritance purposes, or those who prefer “shacking up” to “tying the knot,” the PAP still emulates the ostrich. Here is the applicable wording from Part A–Liability Coverage:“Insured” as used in this part means:1. You or any “family member” for the ownership, maintenance or use of any auto or “trailer”2. Any person using “your covered auto.”“Family member” means a person related to you by blood, marriage or adoption who is a resident of your household. This includes a ward or foster child.You may ask: What’s wrong with this? Anyone not considered a family member or spouse is still covered while using “your covered auto.” Exactly. Notice the preferred group of insureds–spouses and family members–are covered for “any” auto. Thus, if that non-spouse or non-family member–perhaps the teenage kids of the non-spouse–is to have full protection as a driver while driving any auto other than a “your covered auto,” something more must be done. Although ISO manual rules indicate a clear preference that they buy his or her own PAP, carriers also may offer to amend the situation via endorsement, while others have underwriting guidelines allowing the unrelated folks to be added as specific named insureds.And if the designers of the current PAP act as if American Bandstand still has the Everly Brothers in the countdown, do you think somewhere else in the building the homeowners wordsmiths are listening to Rihanna?After using the exact same definition of “you” and “your” (at least their word processing is advanced enough for “cut and paste”), we find the key provision in the latest ISO HO 3 (HO 00 03 10 00) reads as follows:Look familiar? At least if the kids of the non-spouse could somehow be considered “in the care of” the named insured, we have a bit more coverage than the PAP. Otherwise we are facing the same coverage–or lack thereof–issues.The bottom line is that standard policies purportedly designed for the “family” exposure are actually excluding or limiting coverage for literally millions of current “families.” And if ISO isn’t fixing the problem, it falls upon astute and awake insurance agents to take action to fill the gaps and resolve the issues. Certainly one way, as suggested to me by many students when we discuss these issues in class, would be to encourage folks in these situations to just quit bucking society and tie the knot. But for a plethora of reasons many will say “thanks, but no thanks” to the easy way out. “Easy” from the viewpoint of the insurance industry, I mean. Surely even Sir Paul McCartney can now see some wisdom in the obviously bittersweet marital experience that years ago led Ray Stevens to avow, in lieu of future marriage, to simply buy some strange woman a new house every 5 years.So in this month of love, whether your relationship is best described by the “Everlasting Love” of Robert Knight, Tony Bennett’s “The Second Time Around,” “Whipping Post” by the Allman Brothers or The Kinks’ “Lola,” I wish you and yours a happy–and properly insured–Valentine’s Day!

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