Tag Archives: Domestic Violence

As COVID-19 Drives Rise in Domestic Abuse, Insurers Seek to Empower Victims

Layoffs, loss of income, and living in isolation with abusers due to working remotely have increased the incidence of domestic violence. Associated Press photo.

By Loretta Worters, Vice President – Media Relations, Triple-I

When you think about domestic violence, insurance typically isn’t top of mind.  But financial security and access to resources can make all the difference to victims when deciding to leave an abusive relationship. And insurance is an important component of financial planning that can help survivors move forward.

Financial abuse is a common tactic used by abusers to gain power and control in a relationship. The forms of financial abuse may be subtle or explicit but, in general, include tactics to conceal information, limit the victim’s access to assets, or reduce accessibility to the family finances.

Growing evidence shows the pandemic has made intimate partner violence more common—and often more severe.  Layoffs, loss of income, and living in isolation with abusers due to working remotely have dramatically increased the incidence of domestic violence, further hampering a victim from leaving an abusive situation.

Survivors struggling to get back on their feet may also be forced to return to their abuser.  That’s why it’s so important that survivors understand how insurance works and what a critical role it can play in gaining financial freedom and economic self-sufficiency.

In support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Triple-I offers financial strategies to protect victims before and after leaving an abusive relationship. They include securing financial records, knowing where the victim stands financially, building a financial safety net, making necessary changes to their insurance policies and maintaining good credit. 

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that 10 million people are physically abused by an intimate partner each year, and 20,000 calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines each day. In addition, 85 percent of women who leave an abusive relationship return because of their economic dependence on their abusers.

“Home is often times a dangerous place for survivors of domestic violence, and COVID-19 exacerbates the circumstances, due to the abusers’ ability to further control,” said Ruth Glenn, president and CEO of the NCADV. “Tactics abusers use include ruining the credit of their victim as well as financial and digital abuse, such as stimulus funds being co-opted by abusers to an increase in domestic online harassment,” she said. 

Experts agree that domestic online harassment can come in many forms, from impersonating a victim by email to sabotage her work to controlling information about the pandemic to make her more fearful and dependent.

Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has been committed to ending domestic violence through financial empowerment by helping to provide survivors with the education and resources needed to achieve their potential and equip young people with the information and confidence they need to help prevent unhealthy relationships before they start.  The Allstate Foundation offers a Moving Ahead Curriculum, a five-module program that helps prepare survivors as they move from short-term safety to long-term security. Modules of the curriculum include: Understanding Financial Abuse; Learning Financial Fundamentals; Mastering Credit Basics; Building Financial Foundations and Long-Term Planning.

“One of the most powerful methods of keeping a survivor trapped in an abusive relationship is not being able to support themselves financially,” Glenn explained. “That’s why insurance and financial education are so important,” she said.  “Education can save a life.”

Financial Strategies for Victims of Domestic Abuse

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and while providing shelter and security for victims is often the first priority, helping them attain financial or economic security is just as important.

Financial security and access to resources is the number one predictor of whether domestic violence victims will stay in or leave an abusive relationship. And insurance is a key component of financial planning that helps survivors prepare for a better life, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Loretta Worters, vice president, I.I.I. says:

The financial cost of leaving an abusive partner can be crushing. Once you decide to leave your partner, you may be solely responsible for providing for yourself and your family and insurance can play a critical role in gaining your financial freedom and self-sufficiency.†

To mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the I.I.I. suggests the following financial
strategies for anyone who is leaving or has left an abusive situation:

1. Secure your financial records: It’s essential to prevent identity theft or damage to your credit. Birth certificates, drivers licenses, passports, bank and credit card information needs to be kept with a trusted family member or friend, or in a bank safety deposit. It’s also a good idea to set up a P.O. Box to conceal all your important mail from your abuser.

2. Know where you stand financially: Knowledge is power, and it is critical that you understand where you stand financially. That means knowing your main sources of income, bank account balances, property owned and debts owed.

3. Build a financial safety net: Once you have a good idea of your financial picture, you are in a better position to plan your exit. Begin with estimating your income and expenses to see if the money you earn right now will allow you to meet your basic needs. Also, start a savings plan and create an emergency fund so you have a safety net if things get difficult financially once you leave.

4. Make necessary changes to your insurance plans: If you plan to take a car with you when you leave your abuser, you will need to get separate auto insurance coverage immediately. Also, when you move out of the house, it is likely you will be renting a place to live and will need to purchase a renters insurance policy. If a life insurance policy on your own life is payable to the abuser, and you own the policy, you have the right to change the beneficiary, and probably should.

5. Maintain good credit: Having a good credit report is going to be essential when it comes to starting your new life, as it can help you more easily rent an apartment, get a new credit card and get better rates on your insurance—it can even affect your ability to get a job. Take care of your current debts and avoid missing any payments. Obtain a copy of your credit report and monitor your credit often.

6. Seek assistance: If you are in a precarious financial situation, or have limited money management skills, it may be difficult to implement some of the steps mentioned above so it is important that you use all the assistance available. Local domestic violence programs, libraries, the Internet and faith-based organizations are all places that you can go to get assistance, and many offer free workshops and seminars that can help you with money management.