New York State Seal
STATE OF NEW YORK
INSURANCE DEPARTMENT
25 BEAVER STREET
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10004

George E. Pataki
Governor

Gregory V. Serio
Superintendent

The Office of General Counsel issued the following informal opinion on November 10, 2004, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.

Re: Age Discrimination & Voluntary Market Personal Lines Automobile Insurance Policies

Questions Presented:

1. With regard to voluntary market personal lines automobile insurance policies issued in New York State, may an authorized New York insurer base its refusal to issue or renew such insurance policies solely on the ground of the advanced age of the applicant or insured?

2. On what grounds may an authorized New York insurer solely base its refusal to issue or renew voluntary market personal lines automobile insurance policies issued in New York State?

Conclusions:

1. No. An authorized insurer may not base its refusal to issue or renew such personal lines automobile insurance policies solely on the ground of the advanced age of the applicant or insured.

2. Such insurer may base its refusal to issue or renew such personal lines automobile insurance policies on factors that are not unfairly discriminatory, or violative of the Insurance Law or public policy.

Facts:

A New York City resident, who is over 70-years-old, has been a licensed driver for over 50 years, and has no driving accident or criminal record.

Analysis:

N.Y. Ins. Law § 3425(i) (McKinney Supp. 2004) provides that: "[n]o insurer shall refuse to issue or renew a covered policy solely on the ground of the advanced age of the applicant or insured." Accordingly, an insurer may not refuse to issue or renew a personal lines automobile insurance policy solely on the ground of the advanced age of the applicant or insured. But such insurer may base its refusal to issue or renew such personal lines automobile insurance policies on other factors, which include being a newly licensed driver, the driving record, health status, employment status, and driving habits of the applicant or insured, and the age of the vehicle. However, such insurer may not base its refusal to issue or renew such personal lines automobile insurance policies on factors that are unfairly discriminatory, or violative of the Insurance Law or public policy, which include the race, creed, color, national origin, disability, sex and marital status of the applicant or the insured.1

For further information you may contact Senior Attorney Kristian Earl Lynch at the New York City Office.


1  N.Y. Ins. Law § 2606-08 (McKinney 2000).