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.

2023-11-10T13:38:03-05:00July 21st, 2023|Divorce, Insurance, Insurance Revenge|

How to insure against bites from man’s best friend

By Andrew Zashin*

Nearly half of all households in the United States have at least one dog. And in many of those households the dogs are considered, not just pets, but members of the family. But, unfortunately, sometimes dogs do bite. And, dog bites can and do lead to litigation.

Although breed-specific bans are in place in various municipalities in Ohio, the state of Ohio is a “breed-neutral” state, meaning that state law does not differentiate between so-called “dangerous” breeds such as pit bulls, (which is a sort of catch-all name for a number of different breeds such as the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, American bully and Staffordshire bull terrier) and other dog breeds.

Ohio law, generally, provides the owner or keeper of a dog can be liable for any injury caused by the dog, so long as the injured person was not trespassing or committing some other criminal offense or teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog, the dog’s owner or keeper, or the owner’s or keeper’s property. Depending on the nature of the claims made in a lawsuit, the owner also might be absolved of liability if he or she had no knowledge of any aggressive tendencies in the dog.

If you have a furry four-footed family member, what can you do to protect yourself from liability? Home owner’s and renter’s insurance policies often cover legal liability in dog bite cases, usually up to a maximum of $100,000 or $300,000, at least for the first claim.

When applying for a home owner’s or renter’s insurance policy, you may find that your insurer asks about whether or not you own a dog, the dog’s behavior and history, and even the breed, in an effort to assess the risk presented. That information will then likely be used to determine your premium costs. If you do end up with a claim, you might find yourself with a canine liability exclusion. In that case, you would have coverage for other types of claims, but not for dog bites. In such a situation, you will probably want to look to umbrella coverage, or even a special dog liability policy.

In the event that you find your coverage is limited, or even excluded altogether, an umbrella policy may be what you need. In essence, an umbrella policy increases the basic liability limits provided by your other policies, and would usually cover medical costs in the event of a dog bite injury, and even attorney fees should you be sued for such an injury.

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

2023-11-10T13:38:11-05:00July 26th, 2018|Insurance|
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