What Is “Insurance Revenge” and How Can You Avoid It During Your Divorce?

Often, there is no logic in matters of the heart. If you are considering a divorce or separation, consider that you may not be able to predict or understand how the other person will react. Unfortunately, normally reasonable people sometimes try to exact revenge through any means necessary (and unreasonable people may be prone to do so). Many of us are familiar with some of these tactics, such as using children as pawns or destroying property. Fewer people are familiar with “insurance revenge,” which can inflict significant damage.

Merriam-Webster defines “revenge” as “to avenge . . . usually by retaliating in kind or degree.” In other words, to seek revenge is to try to make someone pay for what they have done.

Insurance revenge can take several forms, such as intentionally causing property damage, canceling insurance, and changing beneficiaries. Because both spouses typically have an interest in insurance policies, they have the ability to inflict serious damage without the other spouse knowing about it until it is too late.

For example, an angry spouse could enter the former marital home and cause some sort of damage that may be rejected by the insurance company. Insure.com relates a story in which the husband entered the home, put a nail in a pipe, and pulled it out ever so slightly. Shortly thereafter, the water pressure in the house pushed the nail out, releasing water into the basement. Although the wife’s water damage claim was covered by insurance, she would have been required to pay up to her deductible, and her policy was canceled at renewal.

Insurance revenge may also take the form of canceling insurance altogether. For example, imagine that a family’s health insurance is obtained through a wife’s employment. Although she has been directed, by court order, not to make changes in her health insurance coverage pending the outcome of divorce proceedings, she removes the husband from the policy. Of course, the wife could be held in contempt of a court order, but the husband would be stuck paying his healthcare costs to medical providers in the meantime.

A third example of insurance revenge is when one spouse changes the beneficiary on a policy prematurely or contrary to court order. An angered spouse may take it upon himself or herself to change the beneficiary of a life insurance policy from the other spouse to a parent, sibling, or even a personal companion. As in the previous example, if this is in violation of court order, the spouse making the change is subject to the court’s power of contempt. However, the injured spouse may have no idea that this has taken place until it is too late.

You can avoid some of these consequences by changing the locks on your house, car, sheds, and other property to exclude the other spouse, provided doing so does not violate a court order. Additionally, if you are concerned about insurance revenge, you may wish to speak with an experienced New Mexico family attorney about whether it might be wise to put your insurance companies on notice of your pending divorce.

An experienced New Mexico family lawyer can help you understand all issues that pertain to family law, including steps you can take to avoid insurance revenge. If you have questions, contact the Lightning Legal Group today. We provide trusted legal advice and counsel to people in some of the most sensitive areas of their lives. Call us today at (505) 247-2390 to learn more.


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