Dave Says: Bankruptcy Filing Stays With You

Dear Dave,

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I recently applied for life insurance for the first time with a child rider. The insurance company denied my request for the rider portion because my son has hemophilia. Do you have any suggestions or advice?

Sarah

Dear Sarah,

Unfortunately, you’re going to have a difficult time with this situation. It’s generally pretty hard, for obvious reasons, for hemophiliacs to get life insurance. I hope you understand that’s a statistical statement, not a spiritual statement.

You can always cover him as a child by building an emergency fund over and above the three to six months of expenses I normally recommend. A child rider is just a small policy to cover final expenses and things like that, so you could self-insure by saving up in the event — God forbid — of a worst case scenario. An average funeral today costs around $7,000 to $10,000. You could always spend less, but if you guys have reasonable safeguards this isn’t a situation you should be facing. I mean, there are probably some things he just shouldn’t do from a common sense standpoint, right? But lots of folks have long, wonderful lives with that particular condition.

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It might be that as research on the disease progresses and as he gets older, there’s a possibility that he could qualify. Think about this. If you even whispered a word like “cancer” anywhere near your name 25 years ago in the insurance business, you were done — no life insurance of any kind. Nowadays, they look at all the factors involved. You can actually have had cancer and get life insurance. 

In short, I think there’s hope for the future. In the meantime, I would cover it with a slightly larger emergency fund. Just add a few thousand to what you would normally set aside for emergencies, because you might face some medical issues, as well.

—Dave

Dear Dave,

What are the long-term effects of declaring bankruptcy?

Brittany

Dear Brittany,

One of the biggest aftershocks of filing bankruptcy is that it stays on your credit report for years afterward. A Chapter 7 filing, which wipes out everything and gives you a clean slate, stays on your report for 10 years. Chapter 13, which is a repayments plan, and Chapter 11, another type of large bankruptcy or business bankruptcy, both stay on your credit bureau report for seven years.

Another big problem is that it can follow you around when it comes to applications or when you apply for different types of licenses. Many of these ask if you’ve ever filed bankruptcy. It doesn’t ask if it’s still on your credit report; it will ask if you’ve ever filed bankruptcy. If you have, you’ll have instances for the rest of your life when you have to admit it and explain it all over again. So, it’s an emotional scar that follows you around for a long, long time.

Too many bankruptcy filers never really recover from their financial distress because they never learn new and better ways to manage their money. That’s why I recommend people do everything they can to avoid bankruptcy. It’s not an easy do-over; it’s a last-resort kind of thing. And in the vast majority of situations it’s just not necessary.

—Dave

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