What's In a Name?


"Hello, my name is..." These words appear often on labels, and are often the first words we speak when meeting someone for the first time. That is because your name is your foremost identifier. Some of us may be proud of our names while others may hesitate to use our given names or simply use another name altogether. For the majority of us, we can choose what name we wish to be called and that works in most aspects of life. From an insurance standpoint, however, there are some specific legalities attached to names and how a policy might or might not pay for damages because of coverage definitions related to names. Please be aware that the following circumstances might need review so that your coverage information will be accurate.

1) When you get married, there are certain rights and responsibilities conferred on the newlyweds. One of those responsibilities is to notify your agent of a new name and a new spouse. This information is vital as your new spouse also has a right to be listed along with you as a "Named Insured" on your policies. This might also be an opportune time to look at combining insurance coverage as you join your households and your insurance exposures.

2) As clients begin to look to simplify the distribution of the things they have accrued, they are often encouraged by their attorneys to set up a trust that will become the responsible "entity" for making sure who gets what at the time of your death. Because the trust is actually considered the "owner" of your property and you become a "trustee" at that time, you will want to contact your agency and make sure that they are aware you have placed your owned property in the trust. They will need the official name of the trust that is on the legal document.

3) In dealing with many commercial insurance clients, we find the business name that is often listed on the policy is different from the actual, legal name of the business. Accuracy with this name is important, as the insurance is a contract between the insurance carrier and the owner of the property. Without ownership, there is no insurable interest. If your business name is changed in any way, please take a moment to contact your agent and make them aware.

4) Names help in gleaning underwriting information, so your agent will need your legal name from your Driver's License and/or your Social Security card. Both of these identifiers help in obtaining Motor Vehicle Reports and Background Information for losses.

As you can see, there are many reasons why you should be aware that your insurance agent needs the most accurate information for specifying the Named Insured of a policy. Please consider the examples of name changes above and be aware that you should contact your agent anytime there is a change or correction needed for your name. It may not seem too important at the time but can save coverage issues later at the time of a loss. As always, don't hesitate to call on us if we may be of service.

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