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DISB Issues Bulletin That Prohibits the Use of Domestic Violence for Underwriting Insurance

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

DISB Issues Bulletin That Prohibits the Use of Domestic Violence for Underwriting Insurance

The bulletin informs licensed insurance providers that they are prohibited from using domestic violence as a deciding factor when issuing life or health insurance policies.

(Washington, DC) - The DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) today issued a bulletin to inform licensed insurance providers that they are prohibited from using domestic violence or spousal abuse as a deciding factor when issuing life or health insurance policies. “October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” said DISB Acting Commissioner Gennet Purcell. “This bulletin is timely in instructing our insurance providers that District government law prohibits the use of information about abuse or one’s status as a victim of domestic violence to cancel, refuse to underwrite or renew, or refuse to issue a policy of life insurance or health insurance policy.” Similarly, the information cannot be used to increase rates or deny claims. Domestic violence can never be used as a rating factor for policies of life insurance or health benefits plans. The bulletin comes on the heels of a recent study that cited the District of Columbia as one of nine jurisdictions that does not prohibit the use of domestic violence as a preexisting condition for underwriting insurance. “We wanted the Department’s position to be clear, so there will be no misunderstandings,” Acting Commissioner Purcell added. “The agency does not want victims of domestic violence to feel as if they’re victimized twice, whenever the actual crime occurs, and again if they’re denied by their insurance company.” The bulletin will ensure District licensees will stay within the requirements of the law for all life, health and health benefits plans. Any questions about this bulletin, please contact Associate Commissioner for Insurance Philip Barlow at (202) 442-7823 or philip.barlow@dc.gov.