OGC Op. No. 04-01-12

The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on January 8, 2004, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.

Re: Insurance Coverage of Domestic Partners

This Department had previously determined that an Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) policy issued in New York pursuant to New York Insurance Law § 4235(c)(1)(L) could not, because coverage is restricted to the cardholder, validly cover a spouse. After reconsideration, the Department has decided that the previous determination was in error because of New York Insurance Law 4235(f)(1), which allows coverage of spouses of insured individuals. Accordingly, the portions of the Department’s June 8, 1998 and June 18, 2003 opinions which indicated that a policy issued pursuant to New York Insurance Law § 4235(c)(1)(L) could not cover a spouse are reversed. Accordingly, an AD&D policy issued to a group described in New York Insurance Law § 4235(c)(1)(L) may cover spouses.

Moreover, based upon the determination of the Court of Appeals in Braschi v. Stahl Associates (holding that a domestic partner could qualify as "family" under New York’s rent regulations statutes), 74 N.Y.2d 201, 544 N.Y.S. 2d 784 (1989), because New York Insurance Law § 4235(f)(1) specifically permits coverage for "persons chiefly dependent upon him for support and maintenance," a domestic partner may be covered upon a showing of dependence.

Dependence includes both unilateral dependency and mutual interdependence, which may be evidenced by a nexus of factors, such as common ownership of property, common householding, shared budgeting or length of relationship. The registration of a domestic partnership, such as is authorized in New York City, New York City Ad. Code §3-240 et seq. (1999), would constitute strong evidence of mutual interdependence.

For further information you may contact Principal Attorney Alan Rachlin at the New York City office.