A recent directive by the New York State Insurance Department instructs insurance companies doing business in the state to recognize out-of-state marriages.
The New York State Insurance Department has issued a Circular Letter to all New York State-licensed insurance companies, directing them to recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex spouses for insurance coverage purposes.
The Circular Letter, based on a legal opinion of the Department's Office of General Counsel, confirms that all insurance companies doing business in New York must extend insurance offered under policies in the state to same-sex spouses on the same terms as to other married couples. This includes all provisions governing health and automobile insurance, as well as other insurance offered in the state, and includes group health insurance policies offered to private employers, requiring coverage of same-sex spouses employed in the private as well as government sectors. Some employer self-funded group health insurance plans that are regulated under federal ERISA may not be affected.
This directive comes after a string of legal victories in New York affirming that such marriages must be legally respected in the state, and the May 2008 memorandum from Governor Paterson's office requiring all state agencies to comply with this requirement.
Anyone with a valid out-of-state marriage to spouses of the same sex can immediately seek insurance coverage through their employer or insurance provider. They should notify their employer or insurance provider of their marriage and ask to receive spousal coverage on equal terms offered to other married insureds. Contact Lambda Legal's Help Desk with any questions.