The answer depends on whether you are the primary policyholder. If so, you need to contact the insurance company and present it with a copy of the divorce decree. The primary policyholder is the person who set up the policy regardless of who is on the loan or deed. If your divorce has yet to be finalized, you may need to wait to remove your spouse until the court process is complete.
Divorce and Insurance
Divorces present many complications when it comes to insurance, even if you and your ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse maintain a friendly relationship. Managing all the details, changing policies, and completing the paperwork can be stressful, confusing, and take inordinate time. In most cases, both spouses’ names are listed as shared parties to insurance policies. Deciding how to manage homeowners insurance policies depends on the terms of the divorce and each spouse’s goals.
How Does Getting Divorced Affect My Homeowners Insurance?
Broadly speaking, three options exist for managing a homeowners policy post-divorce: cancel the joint policy and take out a new one (if you are keeping the house), take your former spouse off the shared policy, or leave the policy as it is.
Canceling the joint policy may make sense if you are not the primary policyholder but will be awarded the house in the divorce. Since only the primary policyholder can make changes, you may need to cancel the old policy and apply for a new one.
If the court awards you the house and you are the primary policyholder, simply submit a copy of the divorce decree to the insurance company and have your ex removed.
While the divorce is ongoing, you and your spouse might remain living in the same dwelling. In this case, you’ll need to leave the policy as is until the divorce is finalized.
Can You Take Your Spouse Off the Home Insurance During a Divorce?
In most cases, the divorce court prevents you from doing this. Courts usually issue an order requiring all insurance policies to remain active as they are while the case remains pending. Once the case resolves, the divorce decree will indicate whether policies must remain in effect, can be canceled, and if you can remove your ex.
Can You Remove Your Spouse from Other Types of Insurance?
Most households have several insurance policies, including homeowners, auto, health, and life coverage. As with homeowners insurance, the court is unlikely to allow cancellation while the case remains pending. However, once the judge issues the divorce decree, you will know which policies can be canceled and which must remain in effect.
Why You Want Insurance to Remain in Effect Until the Divorce Settles
Until the divorce process is complete, your assets remain tied to your spouse’s. Because of this, creditors can still seize your money or property for a debt incurred by your spouse. For example, if your spouse becomes ill, creditors can still legally collect a medical debt from you. In another case, should your spouse suffer a vehicle accident, your assets can still be taken to settle any amount not covered by insurance. Keeping policies in force ensures that you won’t get stuck with a big bill should your spouse ensure a major liability and have no insurance.
Going through a divorce is rarely simple. Even when uncontested, disentangling financial ties is a long and laborious process. If you and your spouse own a home and have a joint homeowners insurance policy, it needs to remain in force until the divorce is finalized. After that, changes can be made. The most important thing is to follow the divorce decree.