TRENTON – The Senate gave final legislative approval today to a measure sponsored by Senator Nia Gill that would prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against individuals seeking to purchase a life insurance policy based on their intent to travel abroad.
“Insurance rates should be based upon sound actuarial principles and not perceived notions about which foreign countries are ‘dangerous,’” said Senator Gill, D-Essex and Passaic. “It is of critical importance that all insurance decisions are based in fact and not colored by any form of discrimination.”
The bill, S-390, would prohibit unfair discrimination based upon an individual’s intent to engage in future lawful foreign travel. The bill would define “unfair discrimination” as an action that “is not based on sound actuarial principles or actual or reasonably anticipated experience.”
“While it makes sense that an extended stay in a nation undergoing political turmoil or lacking an adequate health care system would have an impact on life insurance rates, a desire to visit Africa or Israel shouldn’t prevent someone from getting a policy,” added Senator Gill. “We should be encouraging people to visit foreign countries and experience other cultures, but instead such insurance discrimination has the opposite effect.”
Senator Gill said she first became aware of this issue when Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was declined for a life insurance policy because she indicated on her application that she might travel to Israel in the future. The Senator said that Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’ story is not unique and that some insurance companies commonly use an individual’s intent to travel abroad, especially to Israel, as a basis for failing to issue or renew a life insurance policy or to increase rates.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-3 and now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.