Divorce is a major life-change. It’s a complicated and emotional process that takes time to work through. It’s not surprising that it also can have a great effect on your personal insurance coverage. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about how divorce affects your auto and home insurance. You should discuss your individual situation with your agent and your attorney.
I Want to Take my Spouse Off My Auto Insurance
Until your divorce is final, your insurance agent should not remove anyone’s name from the policy without their written consent. An insurance policy is a contract. Your agent is responsible to BOTH parties to the contract. Each has the same rights under the policy. A professional agent will not only want to make sure that both parties remain covered; they are obligated to honor each person’s policy rights.
We Own Separate Vehicles. Can’t We Get Separate Insurance?
Maybe, but you should consult your attorney first. Maine “joint property” laws may render the registration immaterial. If the property is considered “joint property”, you both should maintain one policy until the divorce is final, and the property is separately owned. Your attorney can help you with this issue.
The Insurance Bills Go to My Spouse. Will My Policy Cancel if They Aren’t Paid?
Yes. That’s why it’s important that your agent knows how to reach BOTH of you; you need to keep them updated. If payment of bills is a problem, discuss this with your attorney; they may be able to arrange for timely payment.
My Spouse Isn’t Reimbursing Me for Their Share. Why Should I Pay for Their Insurance?
It’s important to keep your coverage in force. The best way to do that is to pay the premium that you are billed. Otherwise your policy could cancel – and you would both lose coverage. Don’t “cut off your nose to spite your face”. Talk to your attorney about how to settle the financial details.
I’ve Moved Out. Does Our Homeowners Policy Still Cover My Stuff?
It depends. It is very important that you contact your agent to discuss your individual situation.
My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on Anything.
Sometimes, it is best to let your attorneys deal with these insurance issues. Give your agent permission to talk with them. Have them contact your agent.
Most insurance companies doing business in Maine would like to forget 2011. Maine narrowly escaped many of the disasters that plagued other Northeastern states (one Maine insurance executive tells of nervously, repeatedly “refreshing” the online map of Hurricane Irene’s storm track). Still, virtually every insurer was affected because they do business in those neighboring states.
Remember the terrible flooding in Vermont? Hurricane Irene in southern New England? The tornadoes in Central Massachusetts? Widespread power outages from falling snow-covered tree limbs? Insurance companies do. They paid all those claims.
Many people don’t know that insurance companies also buy insurance – called reinsurance – to protect themselves from financial disaster. Reinsurance spreads the cost of risk throughout the world, leveling loss experience. Reinsurance works: despite the recession and the heavy losses, insurance companies remain financially solvent and able to pay claims.
Unfortunately, 2011 set a world record for disasters . Losses were $105 billion, the highest number ever. About 1/3 of those losses, and 4 of the top 10 events, were in the US. That means that reinsurance companies are now increasing the rates that insurance companies pay for property reinsurance. Of course, that translates to higher homeowners and business property rates for you and me. So, what can you do?
6 Ways to Help Offset Rising Property Insurance Costs
Don’t overinsure. Your Maine business property insurance agent or homeowners insurance agent can help you determine the insurable replacement cost of your property, so you can adjust your protection accordingly.
Get the discounts you deserve. Don’t pay too much by failing to get the business or homeowners insurance discounts you’ve earned. Have you recently replaced your roof, electrical, heat or other system? Installed an alarm or a generator? All of these improvements may qualify for discounts. Talk to your agent, and ask if there are other discounts available.
Combine and save. Most insurers give a discount when they insure both your property and vehicles. That goes for business or personal insurance. If you own coastal, seasonal or secondary property, some preferred insurance companies will accept you if they insure your primary home, too. This can rescue you from paying higher non-standard rates with another insurance company.
Choose deductibles wisely. If you’ve owned your property for a long time, you may have more financial ability to repair small losses (it’s not a good idea to file multiple, small claims anyway). If so, ask your agent how much you could save by increasing your property deductible.
Maintain your property. It should go without saying, but deferred maintenance leads to claims, and claims lead to higher premiums. Replace your roof or heating system before it causes a loss. Clear leaves from your gutters every fall to prevent ice dams. Regular paint and upkeep can prevent trouble later.
Maine property insurance rates are expected to rise for some time. In times like this, it makes even more sense to develop a relationship with a local agent. In the area of Portland Maine, insurance agents are plentiful. Find one whose professional advice you trust, and who represents many preferred insurance companies. If you have questions about your personal or business property insurance, contact our experienced agents at 207.799.5541.
We’re enjoying this new Trusted Choice video, which highlights the advantage of using a local independent insurance agent. Not only will you get personalized advice from a local professional, but you have the option of choosing from among several insurance companies at once.