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

David A. Paterson
Governor

Eric R. Dinallo
Superintendent

OGC Op. No. 08-12-05

The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on December 29, 2008, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.

Re:  Application of Circular Letter No. 27 (2008) to Group Long-Term Disability, Group Short-Term Disability, and Group Term Life Insurance

Question Presented:

Does Circular Letter No. 27 (2008), which advises insurers to recognize marriages between same-sex spouses legally married in other jurisdictions, apply to group long-term disability, group short-term disability, and group term life insurance?

Conclusion:

Yes, Circular Letter No. 27 (2008) applies to group long-term disability, group short-term disability, and group term life insurance.

Facts:

The inquiry is of a general nature, without reference to particular facts.

Analysis:

Circular Letter No. 27 (2008) advises that same-sex spouses legally married in jurisdictions outside New York must be treated as spouses for purposes of the New York Insurance Law.  The circular letter draws on the Insurance Department’s Office of General Counsel Opinion 08-11-05 (Nov. 21, 2008), which analyzed, inter alia, Martinez v. Monroe Community College, 50 A.D.3d 189, 850 N.Y.S.2d 740 (4th Dep’t), lv. to appeal denied, 10 N.Y.3d 856 (2008), and concluded that New York’s “marriage recognition” rule applies to marriages between same-sex spouses validly performed outside the state.  Although that opinion focuses principally on health insurance, both the opinion and the circular letter note that the opinion’s analyses and conclusions are “applicable to all other kinds of insurance, too.”  Accordingly, Circular Letter No. 27 (2008) applies to group long-term and short-term disability insurance, which are types of accident and health insurance, and to group term life insurance.

For further information, you may contact Supervising Attorney D. Monica Marsh at the New York City office.