(a) No insurer may:

Terms Used In Alabama Code 27-55-3

  • abuse: The occurrence of one or more of the following acts by a family or household member, as defined by subdivision (3) of subsection (b) of Section 15-10-3:

    a. See Alabama Code 27-55-2

  • ABUSE STATUS: The fact that a person is or has been the subject of abuse and has sustained abuse-related medical conditions or has incurred abuse-related claims. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • Arrest: Taking physical custody of a person by lawful authority.
  • Beneficiary: A person who is entitled to receive the benefits or proceeds of a will, trust, insurance policy, retirement plan, annuity, or other contract. Source: OCC
  • commissioner: The Commissioner of the state Department of Insurance. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
  • CONFIDENTIAL ABUSE INFORMATION: Information about the acts of abuse or abuse status of a subject of abuse, the address and telephone number, home and work, of a subject of abuse, or the status of an applicant or insured as a family member, employer, or associate of, or a person in a relationship with a subject of abuse. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • Damages: Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • EVIDENCE OF ABUSE: A court order, police report, medical report, or report from the Department of Human Resources, or a shelter for domestic violence victims, indicating that the insured is or has been the subject of abuse. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • following: means next after. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
  • HEALTH BENEFIT PLAN: A policy, contract, certificate, or agreement offered by a health carrier to provide, deliver, arrange, pay for, or reimburse any of the costs of health care services or health care benefit. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • HEALTH CARRIER: A person or entity subject to regulation under this chapter who or which contracts or offers to contract to provide, deliver, arrange for, pay for, or reimburse any costs of health care services including, without limitation, a sickness and accident insurance company, a health maintenance organization, mutual aid associations, a fraternal benefit society, a hospital service corporation, or any other entity providing a plan of health insurance, including entities created pursuant to Article 6 (commencing with Section 10A-20-6. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • insured: A party named on a policy or health benefit plan as the person with legal rights to the benefits provided by the policy or health benefit plan, except that for life insurance, insured means the person whose life is covered under the policy. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • insurer: A person or other legal entity engaged in the business of insurance in this state, including agents, brokers, adjusters, and third-party administrators. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
  • Obligation: An order placed, contract awarded, service received, or similar transaction during a given period that will require payments during the same or a future period.
  • person: includes a corporation as well as a natural person. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
  • policy: A contract of insurance, certificate, indemnity, suretyship, or annuity issued, proposed for issuance, or intended for issuance by an insurer, including endorsements or riders to an insurance policy or contract. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • property: includes both real and personal property. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
  • state: when applied to the different parts of the United States, includes the District of Columbia and the several territories of the United States. See Alabama Code 1-1-1
  • SUBJECT OF ABUSE: A person, including a minor child, against whom an act of abuse has been committed a. See Alabama Code 27-55-2
  • writing: includes typewriting and printing on paper. See Alabama Code 1-1-1

(1) Deny, refuse to issue, renew, or reissue, cancel, or otherwise terminate, restrict, or exclude coverage on an insurance policy or health benefit plan on the basis of an applicant’s or insured‘s abuse status, or on the basis of any association, relationship, or assistance to a subject of abuse.

(2) Exclude or limit coverage for a loss, deny benefits, or deny a claim on the basis of the insured’s abuse status, or on the basis of any association, relationship, or assistance to a subject of abuse, except as otherwise permitted or required by the laws of this state relating to acts of abuse committed by a life insurance beneficiary. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this section, a liability insurer may include policy provisions providing that a payment required by this subsection may be denied or, if paid, recovered by the insurer from the insured, if the claim arose out of an act of abuse by the insured.

(3) Add a premium differential to an insurance policy or health benefit plan on the basis of an applicant’s or insured’s abuse status, or on the basis of any association, relationship, or assistance to a subject of abuse.

(4) Terminate health coverage for a subject of abuse, where the subject of abuse does not qualify for coverage under the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), because coverage originally was issued in the name of the abuser and the abuser has divorced, separated from, or lost custody of the subject of abuse or the abuser’s coverage has terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. Nothing in this subdivision shall prohibit the insurer from requiring the subject of abuse to pay the full premium for the subject’s coverage or requiring the subject of abuse to reside or work within its service area if the requirements are applied to all insureds of the insurer or health carrier. The insurer may terminate coverage after the continuation coverage required by this subdivision has been in force for 18 months. The continuation coverage required by this subdivision shall be satisfied by a COBRA coverage provided to a subject of abuse and is not intended to be in addition to any coverage provided under COBRA.

(b) When the insurer has information in its possession that indicates that the applicant, insured, or claimant is a subject of abuse, it is a violation of this section for an insurer to disclose confidential abuse information for any purpose or to any person, except:

(1) To a subject of abuse or a person specifically designated in writing by a subject of abuse.

(2) To a health care provider for the direct provision of health care services.

(3) To a licensed physician identified and designated by the subject of abuse.

(4) When ordered by the commissioner or a court of competent jurisdiction or otherwise required by law.

(5) When necessary for a valid business purpose to transfer information that includes confidential abuse information. Confidential abuse information may be disclosed only to the following persons:

a. A reinsurer that seeks to indemnify or indemnifies all or part of a policy covering a subject of abuse and that cannot underwrite or satisfy its obligations under the reinsurance agreement without disclosure.

b. A party to a proposed or consummated sale, transfer, merger, or consolidation of all or part of the business of the insurer.

c. Medical or claims personnel contracting with the insurer, including parent or affiliate companies of the insurer that have service agreements with the insurer, only when necessary to process an application or perform the insurer’s duties under the policy or to protect the safety or privacy of a subject of abuse.

d. With respect to address and telephone number, an entity with whom the insurer transacts business when the business cannot be transacted without the address and telephone number.

(6) To an attorney who needs the information to represent the insurer effectively, if the insurer notifies the attorney of its obligations under this chapter and requests that the attorney exercise due diligence to protect the confidential abuse information consistent with the attorney’s obligation to represent the insurer.

(7) To the policy owner or assignee, in the course of delivery of the policy, if the policy contains information about the abuse status.

(8) To any other entity deemed appropriate by the commissioner.

(c) No insurer may require an applicant to disclose information relating to acts of abuse or an applicant’s abuse status for use or consideration as part of the initial application for coverage in the health or medical underwriting process. However, this section does not prohibit an insurer from asking an applicant or insured about a medical condition or a claim or from using information thereby obtained to underwrite or to evaluate and carry out its rights and duties under the policy, even if the information is related to a medical condition or claim that the insurer knows or has reason to know is abuse-related, to the extent otherwise permitted under this chapter and other applicable law.

(d) This section does not preclude a subject of abuse from obtaining his or her own medical records from an insurer.

(e) A subject of abuse must provide evidence of abuse to an insurer to come within the protection afforded by this chapter or to facilitate treatment of an abuse-related condition, or both, or demonstrate that a condition is abuse related. A person must provide evidence of abuse to an insurer to demonstrate that a property and casualty claim is abuse related. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to authorize an insurer to disregard that information or the confidentiality of the source of information or evidence.

(f) This section does not prohibit a property or casualty insurer from denying a property claim when the damage or loss is the result of intentional conduct by a named insured who commits an act of abuse, except that the property and casualty insurer shall make payment on such a claim to an innocent co-insured subject of abuse to the extent of the innocent co-insured’s interest in the property and within the limits of coverage when the damage or loss was proximately related to and in furtherance of abuse. To recover for a claim under this subsection, the innocent co-insured is required to do one of the following: (1) File a complaint under the “Protection from Abuse Act,” Section 30-5-1 et seq., against the abuser for the act causing this loss, and not voluntarily dismiss the complaint, or (2) seek a warrant for the abuser’s arrest for the act causing this loss and cooperate in the prosecution of the abuser. A property and casualty insurer paying a claim shall be subrogated to the rights of the innocent co-insured subject of abuse to recover for any damages paid by the insurance.

Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a property or casualty insurer from nonrenewing coverage for the subject of abuse if, after a claim, the subject of abuse remains married to or continues to reside in the same household with the abuser.

(g) This section does not prohibit a life insurer from declining to issue a life insurance policy if the applicant or prospective owner of the policy is or would be designated as a beneficiary of the policy, and if:

(1) The applicant or prospective owner of the policy lacks an insurable interest in the prospective insured.

(2) The applicant or prospective owner of the policy is known on the basis of medical, police, or court records to have committed an act of abuse against the prospective insured.

(3) The insured or prospective insured is a subject of abuse, and that person, or a person who has assumed the care of that person, if a minor or incapacitated, has objected to the issuance of the policy on the ground that the policy would be issued to or for the direct or indirect benefit of the abuser.

(h) An insurer shall not be held civilly or criminally liable for the death of or injury to an insured resulting from any action taken in a good faith effort to comply with the requirements of this chapter. This subsection does not prevent an action by the commissioner to investigate or enforce a violation of this chapter.

(Act 2000-595, p. 1185, §3.)