New York’s top insurance regulator says that insurance companies must treat gay couples legally married in other states the same way they treat straight married couples.
“We expect insurance companies to provide the same rights and benefits to all legally married couples, regardless of the sex of the spouses,” Superintendent Eric Dinallo said today in an e-mailed statement. The insurance department’s decision covers “virtually all” types of insurance, including life, health, disability and long- term care coverage, the statement said. An insurer’s refusal to extend coverage equally to all couples may prompt disciplinary action from the regulator.
“This applies to all licensees of the department, that’s going to be insurance companies, agents and brokers,” said Martha Lees, deputy general counsel at the New York State Department of Insurance. “What is key is that the marriage be validly entered in the jurisdiction where it took place,” she said. Only such marriages are covered by the decision, and should California overturn same- sex marriages, they may not be recognized, Lees said.
This announcement is the result of Gov. Paterson’s earlier decree that all state agencies must honor out-of-state same-sex marriages.