Insurance Discrimination Against Victims of Domestic Violence
Authored by Terry L. Fromson (Managing Attorney, Women’s Law Project) and Nancy Durborow, MS (Consultant, Futures Without Violence) and updated in 2019, this 31-page report highlights the discriminatory practices of some insurance companies that penalize domestic violence victims who seek coverage and the recent changes to state and federal law. Information that insurance practices negatively affect victims of domestic violence first came to light in 1994 when two insurance companies denied health, life and disability insurance to a Pennsylvania woman based on information in her medical records that her husband had abused her. As domestic violence advocates soon discovered, her experience was not an isolated instance. An investigation quickly exposed the common and widespread practice of underwriting on the basis of domestic violence in all lines of insurance. These practices have resulted in cancellation of insurance, claims exclusions and denials, application of intentional act exclusions to innocent co-insureds, rating surcharges, adverse actions against third parties associated with victims of domestic violence, and disclosures that place victims at risk. This report outlines the broad scope of the problem as well as the state and national advocacy and legislative efforts taken to halt this practice during the last 20 years. It addresses the problematic and wide variance in state legislative prohibitions/protections as well as the continuing need for a federal remedy. Available only as a PDF.