How Long Can You Stay on Someone's Insurance If Divorced?

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Health insurance coverage through your ex's employer generally stops.
Health insurance coverage through your ex's employer generally stops. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Divorce involves a split from your ex not only in your personal life, but also in your economic life. One area where separating your economic union into two parts can be difficult is in your insurance policies. While you can remain indefinitely on certain types of insurance after divorce, there are some types where you have to go it alone.

Health Insurance

Absent a state law or policy provision to the contrary, your ex can but does not have to kick you off his medical insurance if he can prove you're separated. At divorce, that discretion evaporates; you're off. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), you can continue to have coverage through the employer's plan for three years, but you'll be responsible for paying the entire premium and any administrative surcharges yourself. So while you can stay with the plan for the COBRA period, you're not "on" your ex's insurance per se. But you can stay on the plan under COBRA even if your ex stops working for the employer.

Auto Insurance

Although medical insurance coverage usually stops at divorce, auto insurance isn't always so clear. Whether you can stay on your ex's auto policy depends on the language of the policy itself, which varies from state to state even with the same company. If your ex's policy covered members of his household and that's how you were insured, you no longer count as a member of his household. In some states, such as North Carolina, insurance policies generally follow the car, not the driver. If you're driving a car with your ex's name on it and he keeps it on his policy, your car will be insured even if you aren't covered under the policy in any other way.

Homeowner's And Renter's Insurance

Like auto insurance, homeowner's and renter's insurance can be tricky after a divorce. A homeowner's policy is typically in the name of the homeowner; as such, if you owned the former marital residence jointly and continued to own it jointly after divorce, you'll still be on the policy together even though only one of you lives there. If the policy was in your ex's name solely, however, once you're no longer a member of his household you no longer qualify as an insured under the policy. If you're staying in property that remains in your ex's name after divorce, you need to obtain your own renter's policy; technically, you're now a tenant.

Life Insurance

Life insurance rights are typically governed by beneficiary designations and policy ownership. You can own a life insurance policy, term or whole, insuring your ex's life even after divorce; in fact, this is fairly common. Divorced parties frequently keep policies insuring the other's life to cover the loss of alimony or child support. You have no absolute right to remain the beneficiary of a policy which your ex owns, but as long as he doesn't change his beneficiary designation, you can remain on it indefinitely.

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