Insurance Discrimination against Victims of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is any form of abuse done by a perpetrator against another person in a household setting. They often manifest as verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual forms of violence. These acts of violence are usually committed by an intimate partner against the other person. In other cases, they can also be abuse towards children, parents, and the elderly.

Domestic Violence Victims Statistics in the USA

Domestic violence victims statistics in United States is more common than you think. In a minute, 24 individuals experience physical abuse, rape, or stalking by an intimate partner. That accounts for more than 12 million domestic violence victims in a single year. Reportedly, 4 out of 5 of these domestic violence victims are women.

In terms of physical violence, nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely abused by an intimate partner. Also, almost half of both women and men have been psychologically abused by their intimate partner in their lifetime.

In terms of sexual violence, about 1 in 10 women have been raped by their partners. 81% of these women have reported significant impacts on their physical and mental health. Besides, about 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime; and 35% of them reported similarly damaging impacts from the experience.

In terms of stalking and emotional distress, 1 in 6 women has been stalked in their lifetime. Of these women, two-thirds were stalked by a current or former partner. In contrast, 1 in 19 men have been stalked in their lifetime, and two-fifths of them were stalked by a partner or acquaintance. Many of them repeatedly receive unwanted calls and messages from their perpetrators.

Children likewise witness and experience domestic violence themselves. There is a child witness in 22% of domestic violence cases. 30-60% of abusive partners also abuse the children in the household.

Why is there Insurance Discrimination against Domestic Violence Victims?

These domestic violence victims’ statistics are relatively common. Many insurers of Medicaid plans have reported domestic violence as a reason for their insurance coverage. However, many insurance companies and employers deny, underwrite, exclude, or cancel the coverage for these domestic violence victims.

But why do insurance companies purposely deny claims to these victims of domestic violence? Let us delve in the different reasons insurers of Medicaid plans give as to why they invalidate the victims’ claims.

  1. Some insurers of Medicaid plans state that the victim makes a voluntary lifestyle choice. They argue that the victim has the choice to leave the perpetrator. However, a domestic violence attorney would rebut that domestic violence remains to be a crime. It is definitely not a lifestyle choice, as no one would choose to be abused.
  2. Some insurers of Medicaid plans argue that domestic violence is a risk factor that needs to be further assessed. They need to make sure that they give out affordable insurance. They would deny coverage to worthy claimants on the basis that this is the standard practice in the industry. However, a domestic violence attorney would argue that a person’s likelihood of being a victim should not be used to underwrite their insurance claims purposely.
  3. Some insurers of Medicaid plans may state that providing insurance to a victim grants the perpetrator to an incentive to kill and collect the policy for himself. They would argue that they could be sued for issuing a policy given the information from the domestic violence. However, they fail to realize that most perpetrators are after their assertion of dominance, and not for the money itself.

From the reasons provided above, it is clear that some insurers will do what they can to circumvent the insurance policies. Aside from knowing why they undermine the victims of domestic violence, we also need to understand how they can discriminate them.

Discriminatory practices against domestic violence victims

When applying for insurance, an individual needs a medical record, where the details of the domestic violence exist. These records are then documented in databases. The insurers can request to gain access to these databases as support for the domestic victim’s claims.

In effect, these insurance companies have the authority to penalize and harm the victims of domestic violence. For instance, they may underwrite the basis of the domestic victim’s past claims. In doing so, they would associate these prior claims as an underlying risk associated with the person and could purposely deny coverage based on abuse.

Another way that these insurance companies discriminate the domestic violence victims is through denial of the abuse-related claims. It may happen if the insurers find exclusions in the insurance policy for intentional acts, such as when a domestic perpetrator intentionally sets their house on fire to hurt the victim.

How to fight against discrimination

The government has undergone different actions to make insurance discrimination against domestic violence victims illegal. For instance, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) developed comprehensive four-model legislation to prohibit this discrimination. These four lines of insurance include acts against discrimination in health benefit plans, in disability insurance, in life insurance, and in property and causality insurance, all in favor of abused subjects.

Also, many states have adopted their own legislation that prevents discrimination against victims of domestic violence. Some of these policies vary among states. Likewise, the federal government took actions to encompass all lines of insurance, thus further cementing the model into actual policies that prohibit discrimination.

However, state and federal laws are not enough. Monitoring and implementing them with the help of domestic violence attorneys are a must. If the local state laws do not cover all forms of insurance, the domestic violence attorneys can advocate for legal reform. If there are violations with the insurance law, the domestic violence attorneys can report them and seek remedies.

The victims of domestic violence have suffered enough. In these ways, we can help them get their well-deserved insurance, and effectively fight the insurance discrimination against them.

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