The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on June 18, 2001 representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
RE: Use of Social Security Number on NYAIP Applications.
May the New York Automobile Insurance Plan ("Plan") require an applicant for insurance coverage to provide their social security number on their application form for use as an anti-fraud measure?
Yes. Such requirement does not violate Federal or State law.
The Plan would like to require all applicants for assigned risk insurance coverage to provide their social security number on their application form in order to reduce opportunities for applicants to engage in fraudulent acts.
While the Social Security Act limits the circumstances under which a state may require an individual to provide his or her social security number, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. § 405(c)(i)(West, 1991), there is no such prohibition directed at private insurers in this regard. Neither in New York does state law prohibit insurers from requiring these numbers from individuals as a condition to securing insurance coverage under the Plan.
It should be noted that when an applicant does furnish their number to the Plan for assignment to an assigned risk insurer, the use of this information by both the Plan and insurer is subject to the requirements of the Department's Privacy Regulation, N.Y. Comp. R. & Regs. tit. 11 § 420.3 (2001).
For further information, you may contact Supervising Attorney Lawrence M. Fuchsberg at the New York City office.