Insurance revenge: an unfortunate weapon of vindictive partner

By Andrew Zashin*

Couples sharing auto, health and homeowner’s insurance, or who have named each other as beneficiaries of life insurance policies, face the task of disentangling these policies if they choose to divorce or otherwise separate. As break-ups often bring out the worst in people, however, vindictive partners may try to weaponize these policies to cause harm or exert control over the other party. This destructive and manipulative tactic is referred to as “insurance revenge.”

Insurance revenge occurs when a partner intentionally undermines the other party’s financial security by tampering with insurance policies. This can include canceling policies without consent, removing beneficiaries, manipulating coverage, or failing to pay premiums, leaving the other party vulnerable to potential financial and health risks. By targeting insurance policies, the individual aims to create financial instability, disrupt healthcare coverage, or cause emotional distress to their former partner.

Insurance revenge can have severe consequences for the victim, both financially and emotionally. Manipulating or canceling insurance policies can leave the victim exposed to unexpected expenses, loss of coverage, or financial ruin. If the offending party tampers with health insurance policies, the victim may face difficulties accessing necessary medical care and treatment. Destruction or sabotage of insured property can result in significant financial losses and emotional distress. Further, tampering with insurance policies may complicate divorce proceedings, leading to extended legal battles and increased stress for both parties, but particularly the victim.

How can you protect yourself from insurance revenge? First, stay in regular contact with your insurance providers throughout the separation. As soon as you are aware of the impending separation or divorce, notify your insurance providers in writing about the situation. Request that they immediately inform you of any modifications or cancellations made to the policies and require your consent for any changes.

Next, you should gather and maintain thorough documentation regarding all insurance policies, including copies of the policies themselves, premium payment records, and any correspondence related to the policies. This evidence is critical in assessing any changes made and supporting your case if insurance revenge occurs.

Further, if you are going through divorce proceedings, I encourage you to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights, navigate the complexities of divorce proceedings, and protect your interests. If you are concerned about insurance revenge, talk with your attorney about obtaining temporary court orders to preserve the status quo regarding insurance policies until the divorce is finalized.

If you suspect insurance revenge or notice unauthorized changes to your policies, promptly report the incident to the insurance carrier, and your attorney if you have one. They can help you take appropriate legal action and address the issue. You may also want to consider obtaining independent insurance coverage if you currently hold joint policies with your partner. This will provide you with greater control over your policies and reduce the risk of tampering.

Insurance revenge during can have devastating long-term consequences. By employing protective measures such as maintaining regular communication with insurance providers, gathering documentation, and seeking legal advice, however, individuals can mitigate the risk of falling victim to insurance revenge and protect their emotional and financial well-being.

This article originally appeared as a column for the Cleveland Jewish News.