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Commerce Department Updates Insurers on Same-Sex Insurance Benefit Coverage

July 31, 2013



For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL, MN – In preparation for August 1, 2013, the day that same-sex marriage in Minnesota becomes law, the state’s Department of Commerce and Department of Health issued a joint bulletin to all insurers to provide guidance related to insurance coverage for dependents.

"As one of the next steps towards implementing Minnesota's new same-sex marriage law, we are providing guidance to insurers to ensure that spouses have dependent insurance coverage offered on the same terms regardless of the sex of the spouse," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman.  "It is important that consumers understand their rights when it comes to spousal coverage, and that insurers and agents provide dependent coverage on terms of equal treatment of all families."

The new law means that any policy issued in Minnesota that provides dependent coverage for spouses must make that insurance coverage available to all spouses regardless of their sex.  The guidance issued in the bulletin by the Commerce Department asserts that although insurance companies may still choose whether its policies provide dependent benefits, the companies cannot define spouse in a way that would limit coverage to opposite-sex spouses.  Therefore, policies that prohibit coverage after August 1, 2013 to same-sex partners would violate Minnesota law, which states that insurance companies cannot discriminate based on sex or marital status.  

The bulletin states that insurance companies cannot refuse to insure, continue to insure, refuse to offer or submit an application for coverage, or limit the amount of coverage available to an individual because of the sex or marital status of the individual.  The Commerce Department will not approve any insurance forms that exclude same-sex spouses from the definition of “spouse” or otherwise do not provide identical coverage or treatment for a same-sex spouse as for an opposite-sex spouse.

Consumers with questions about insurance coverage or complaints related to insurance should call the Commerce Department’s Consumer Response Team (CRT).  The CRT is available to help consumers with questions about laws concerning the industries the Department regulates as well as help to resolve disputes between consumers and industries.

If you are unable to resolve a problem or have a complaint with your insurance company, the Department investigates written complaints to determine if there is a violation of Minnesota law.

You can reach a representative from the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team between the hours of 8:00am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. CRT contact information is below.

Phone: (651) 539-1600 or (800) 657-3602 (Greater Minnesota)
Email: consumer.protection@state.mn.us
Address: Minnesota Department of Commerce, Consumer Protection and Education Division
85 7th Place East, St. Paul, MN 55101