Life insurance after a divorce

While you were married, you likely listed your spouse as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, and vice versa. Once you are divorced, you will want to change that.

State laws vary in terms of what happens if you don't change your beneficiary; your ex-spouse may or may not be able to collect even if you forget to change it. However, it's important to make sure that the proceeds of your life insurance policy go to the right person when you die. Update it as soon as you can.

Homeowners insurance after a divorce

If you're selling your house and each moving to new homes, you'll simply cancel the existing home insurance policy and take out a new one for your new home.

If one of you is staying in the house, however, you might be able to keep your current policy and remove the person who's moving out from the policy. 

If you're keeping the house but your spouse was the first named insured on the policy, you might need a new one. Contact your insurance company to find out how it prefers to handle the situation.

Health insurance after a divorce

If you've been covered on your spouse's health insurance plan, they can't legally remove you until the divorce is final.

You can keep your spouse's coverage by electing COBRA insurance, which allows you to stay on the plan for a period of time after the divorce. However, COBRA is very expensive because the employer stops paying any of the premiums. You will likely find cheaper coverage for yourself by applying through the ACA marketplace for an individual plan.

If you have children, your divorce agreement will spell out how coverage for the kids should be handled. When both parents have insurance, there are rules that define which policy is primary and which is secondary coverage.

Gingerbread couple laying on plate, one broken to symbolize a breakup.

Car insurance after a divorce

Part of your insurance to-do list if you are separated or divorced is deciding who gets the car(s). If ownership of a car changes, you also need to change the name on the policy to match. If you or your ex move to a new address, you need a separate insurance policy right away. 

It's OK to stay on the same auto insurance policy until you've divided car ownership, as long as you agree on how to pay for the coverage. Keep in mind that if you remove your soon-to-be ex-spouse from your car insurance before the divorce is finalized, you could lose your multi-car discount or possibly a multi-policy discount if your home insurance policy is with the same carrier.

When it's time for separate policies, make sure the new ones are effective before removing yourself or an ex from the joint policy.

Also remember that as long as you keep your ex-spouse on your insurance, their driving record and any accidents they might have can affect your rates.

Other insurance considerations when you get divorced

If you have children, your divorce agreement might require one or both parents to carry life insurance specifically to provide for those kids  Speak with a life insurance agent to make sure that you have the right coverage to comply with the divorce decree. An agent can also help you to make sure you set up the beneficiary correctly to see that the money goes where it should if you die.

You should also make sure to check the beneficiaries on any other policies you may have. If you have benefits through work that include any sort of life, accidental death, or other policies, you'll want to make sure the beneficiaries are changed there as well.