New York Insurers Must Recognize Same Sex Partners

 In Blog

The New York State Insurance Department released a letter stating all New York insurers are expected to recognize same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions where such unions are legal, even if they take place out of state.

Employers who offer group health insurance under a state policy are required to offer benefits to spouses in a same-sex union to the same extent as an opposite-sex union. Failure to do so may run afoul of New York’s Executive Law, which targets unlawful discrimination.

Employers with self-insured plans may be exempt from this requirement, as the Insurance Department lacks the authority to directly regulate employers; however, depending on how the term “spouse” is defined in the plan’s policy, the sponsor may be required to provide benefits to same-sex spouses anyway.

Earlier this year, New York Gov. David Paterson instructed all state agencies to review their policies, and ensure language like “spouse,” “husband” and “wife” encompassed same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples.

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