Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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What to do about insurance policies after a divorce?

A massage therapist from Boston recently experienced the complexities of property division while going through her divorce. She quickly learned that martial property included insurance plans, not just artwork and bank accounts. At first, her ex-husband allowed for a time limit to be put on her health coverage, added costs and put in an option that could have her removed from the plan without warning.

Then her ex-husband's employer changed insurance plans, and her co-payment costs jumped from zero to $140. Fortunately, the massage therapist started a new job, and was able to receive health benefits from her employer. She still spent a month paying nearly $500 for her prescriptions before her new policy became active.

During a divorce, it is easy to focus on the larger issues pertaining to property division and and forget about other matters such as insurance plans. It is also common for divorcing couples to simply not say anything to their insurance provider after a divorce and just keep a former spouse on the old plan.

This can be a costly mistake if the provider should find out that the former spouse is no longer eligible to be covered, and that situation could lead to insurance fraud charges. Rather than risk serious complications with the insurance company, it is wise to seek out separate health care coverage after a divorce.

Individuals who are working through a marital split also need to consider the life insurance policies and advance healthcare directives that may still be in place after a divorce. Experienced family law attorneys will be able to help clients sort through the details of these policies to ensure a fair and equitable divorce settlement.

Source: Reuters, "How to untangle your insurance plans in divorce," Geoff Williams, Sept. 11, 2012

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