Divorce and Insurance
Joseph A. Davis, CDFA®
May 22, 2017
In working through your divorce, don’t forget your most valuable assets: your life and your health. Both directly affect your ability to earn income and to care and provide for yourself and your family. You have several areas to look at to ensure you’ve managed your risks.
Most couples name each other as beneficiaries on their life insurance policies. At a minimum, you will need to change your beneficiary designations on all policies, regardless of size. You may need to adjust the amount of coverage, particularly if you were the non-working spouse and you now plan to work to support yourself and your family. Factors to consider include replacing your income, paying off debt and leaving enough to care for your family if you die.
Health insurance usually comes with employment, and again, non-working spouses will be most at risk in a divorce, since they will no longer be considered dependents covered under the employed spouse’s group insurance. If you work and your employer offers health insurance, the divorce is considered a qualifying event, and you can switch to your employer’s coverage without waiting for an open enrollment period. Call the insurance carrier for your spouse’s policy and request a certificate of insurance. This proves that you were insured until the qualifying event, so you can’t be excluded or charged a higher premium for pre-existing conditions.
If you are not employed, the same qualifying event definition makes you eligible for coverage under COBRA, a federal that allows you to continue the coverage for a certain time period under specific conditions. COBRA can be an expensive option, because you pay the full premium yourself, and it is temporary at best. Certain professional groups and other associations also offer group insurance for which you may be eligible. You can also purchase individual health insurance privately, although the rates are typically much higher than a group policy with comparable benefits.
Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010 showed that nearly 19 percent of U.S. residents reported some level of disability. A 35-year-old man has a one-in-five chance of a disability lasting longer than three months, according to the Council for Disability Awareness. With two incomes, you have something of a safety net if you are unable to work because of a short- or long-term disability. Going it alone, you may want to consider disability coverage either through your employer or privately, especially if you have no emergency reserve funds or other income to fall back on.
Your homeowners insurance covers your house and its contents. If you decide to move to an apartment, you may need renter’s insurance to cover your possessions. Check limits for jewelry and other high valuables, such as antiques and collectibles, and purchase riders to cover them if necessary.
Risks play as important a part in forming your financial picture as do your assets and liabilities. With all the products and carriers in the market, the choices can be overwhelming. A financial or insurance professional can help you weigh your options and determine the best course of action during and after your divorce.
Throughout the past two and a half months I have continued to ask myself, did we jump off a financial cliff? The answer was no. How did I know? The answer, while somewhat complex, is profoundly simple.
While it’s true that retirement accounts can be used to save for college, there may be negative consequences to doing so. It’s best to talk with a financial professional to determine the appropriate course of action and to make sure you’re on track to meet your goals.
A 401(k) isn’t the only option for retirement, but it’s definitely one of the most attractive. In many cases, it offers free money and is relatively easy to roll over when you change jobs. A financial professional can help you prepare for retirement with a 401(k) that fits your current investment style and stage in life and adapts to changes in career or investment styles.
Qualified plans, such as 401(k), profit sharing, defined benefit pension and money purchase pension plans, have defined benefits or defined contributions. A qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, is required when dividing qualified plans.
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Securities offered through Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, Member FINRA & SIPC., Headquartered at 80 State Street, Albany, NY 12207. Advisory Services offered through BEAM Wealth Advisors, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm. BEAM Wealth Advisors, Inc. is a separate entity from Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments. Joseph Davis, Registered Representative. Tax services provided by Davis Tax & Associates. Advisory services offered by Beam Asset Management. Joseph Davis, Investment Advisor Representative. Davis Financial LLC, Beam Asset Management, Davis Tax & Associates, and Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments are separate, unaffiliated entities.