How a Virginia Divorce Can Affect Different Types of Insurance
By: John Whitbeck
Getting a divorce can affect every aspect of your life, from a new living situation to a radical change in finances. One important aspect that some people fail to think about is how divorce will affect your insurance policies. This goes beyond changing beneficiary designations, which you should immediately do as you don’t want your ex to be the beneficiary of an individual policy you have. Speaking with a skilled Virginia divorce attorney can be beneficial in helping you take these steps.
But what about your premiums? Have you thought about whether you will need to change your policies and how that will affect your monthly expenditures? Here’s a look at some of the most common insurance policies and how a divorce can impact them.
If you are listed as a dependent on a policy with your spouse, you will likely not be able to remain a dependent once the divorce is final if the plan is an employer-sponsored program. If you have health insurance available at your own job, you need to look into the requirements there. For example, can you join after a life-changing event like divorce, or only during open enrollment?
Divorce should count as a “qualifying life event” that does allow you to add coverage outside the usual annual open enrollment period. You have to make sure you handle everything timely, as you can’t wait until two months after the divorce and then sign up. Usually, the window is around 30 days, so you want a copy of that divorce decree right away.
If you are a stay-at-home parent or work for an employer who doesn’t offer benefits, the situation may feel more distressing. You may be able to sign up for COBRA for a certain amount of time, usually 36 months. The hitch is that the employer won’t subsidize the coverage, so you are on the hook for the full premium. You are likely better off purchasing your own policy.
Look into your insurance and what your divorce agreement says on whether or not your ex-spouse has to remain a beneficiary on your policy. If so, you cannot take his or her name off. This is a common situation when you have children. By keeping your ex-spouse on the policy, it can be like a “back up” plan for your children. This should not be done on your own; you need a Virginia divorce attorney who can guide you through the whole process.
Car insurance is one of the main insurance types that people fail to factor into their divorce. Cars have been divided in the property settlement, and that can affect the policy and premiums. You may lose discounts for marriage, multiple cars on the policy, length of policy with the carrier, or whatever other discounts they might be bundling in your premium. Each party will be removed from the other’s plan. Do your research before the divorce is finalized, so you know the financial impact you will encounter. If you are preparing for divorce, don’t go through it alone. There are a lot of expenses and financial changes you may be forgetting to factor in.
To learn more about divorce, visit our Divorce Law page.
Related: Divorce Law
John C. Whitbeck, Jr. is the founder of WhitbeckBennett. His practice focuses on family law, special education law, and mental health law. He regularly practices in several jurisdictions in the Northern Virginia area. He has also been certified as an expert witness in litigation.