Contact: Beth Scott
Tallahassee – The Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Tuesday passed the "Freedom to Travel" Bill that, if signed into law, will prohibit unfair discrimination based on a consumer's past or future lawful travel plans in the purchase of life insurance.
Senate Bill 764, sponsored by Sen. Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres) was passed by a vote of 6-2 and now is headed to the Senate Commerce and Consumer Services Committee. Rep. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood, Pembroke Pines) is sponsoring House Bill 299, companion legislation in the House.
Legislation was prompted after unfair discrimination in purchasing life insurance policies was spotlighted when a member of the U.S. Congress was denied life insurance because she answered questions on her application for a life insurance policy saying she might travel to Israel in the future.
The Senate bill would eliminate questions about lawful travel but would also provide a process to make exceptions to the bill using the rulemaking authority of the Florida Cabinet and allows companies to base coverage on questions about travel if the distinctions can be actuarially justified.
Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and the Office of Insurance Regulation also are working with the Florida Cabinet to develop Rule 690-125.003, Relating to Unfair Discrimination Because of Travel Plans, F.A.C. as authorized by the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act. The rule would prohibit insurance companies from refusing coverage or charging different rates to consumers without actuarial justification.
Insurers whose applications include questions about past or intended travel have been directed to withdraw those forms unless or until the insurer provides the Office with actuarial justification for use of travel related questions. The Office identified about 50 life insurance companies licensed in Florida that use forms that ask unfairly discriminatory questions about lawful travel.