Divorce Insurance: Get Unhitched, Get a Payout

New breakup insurance offers a (depressing) safety net for those hedging marital bets

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Illustration by Harry Campbell for TIME

Ever had that sinking feeling that the person your friend is marrying is perfectly awful? Of course not, because you love everyone. But should it happen, you now can give the perfect wedding present: divorce insurance.

WedLock, as it's coyly named, is a new type of casualty insurance that gives the unhappily married policyholder a payout after he or she is unhitched. It costs about $16 a month for every $1,250 of coverage. But to discourage people from signing up just prior to their divorce, policyholders must ante up for four years before the policy will pay out. It adds a premium of $250 per unit for every year the marriage survives beyond four. So if a policyholder who bought 10 units got divorced after 10 years, he or she would have handed over $19,188 and would receive a payout of $27,500. It's probably not worth getting divorced for, but the lump sum might salve some wounds, whether through lawyers, vacations or subscriptions to the Rhapsody Book Club.

The idea bubbled up, as so many do, from the bottom of a financial pit. After John Logan watched his wealth follow his marriage down the drain, the Kernersville, N.C., entrepreneur figured there must be a market for those who want to hedge their marital bets. He won't reveal how many policies he's sold since the Aug. 5 launch of WedLockDivorceInsurance.com. But he's surprised at how much insurance his customers are buying: some of the premiums are more than $1,000 a month.

Not everybody thinks divorce insurance is prudent. "The best insurance against a painful, financially devastating divorce is to find a way to be happy in your marriage," says relationship coach Mimi Daniel. "Divorce insurance implies from the beginning that divorce is already an option."

On the other hand, unless you're Elin Nordegren, few things are as impoverishing as ending a marriage. Logan, who is recently engaged and, yes, is buying policies for himself and his betrothed, expects WedLock will become part of prenuptial agreements or be purchased for a bride or groom by relatives concerned about their loved one's choice of loved one. "Mom or Dad could buy this for their son or daughter without them knowing about it," he suggests. But the bride or groom has to be the beneficiary. Sorry, scheming mother-in-law, no windfall for you.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 13, 2010, issue of TIME magazine.