Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Domestic Abuse a Preexisting Condition for Denying Insurance

Nine states deny insurance to victims of domestic violence, including Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming. In addition, Washington DC also belongs on this list. The insurance agencies involved? Nationwide, Allstate, State Farm, Aetna, Metropolitan Life, The Equitable Companies, First Colony Life, The Prudential and the Principal.

Lawyer Jennifer Wriggins presented a paper to the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association in which she stated:
Liability insurance of all types generally excludes from coverage acts
"expected or intended" by the insured. This "intentional acts" exclusion
operates to eviscerate coverage for domestic violence and other intentional
torts. Moreover, homeowners liability coverage does not cover claims by family
members against one another. This "family member exclusion" operates to bar
coverage for domestic violence since it often is committed by one family member
against another.

So insurance companies have come to the conclusion that if you are in a relationship with someone who has beaten you then you are more likely to be beaten again, and consequently you are more expensive to insure.

The women in my practice don't stay in abusive relationships because they like to be beaten. They stay because they need their husband's paychecks to take care of the children. They stay because they need a place to live, and their own income is inadequate in a minimum wage world to pay rent in a safe place to live. They stay out of fear. They stay for many complicated reasons. But I don't know of any who stay because they want to be injured.

In 2006 Democrats tried to end the practice of discriminating against victims of domestic violence but lost by a narrow margin. All the votes in opposition were Democrats. Indeed, opposers argued that such legislation would raise everyone's premiums. I have trouble understanding that logic when most states do not have such legal discrimination.

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