Empire State insurance regulators say a recent same-sex spouse circular letter applies to group life plans and to group disability plans as well as to group health plans.

The Office of the General Counsel at the New York State Insurance Department describes the department’s position in OGC Opinion Number 08-12-05.

New York does not permit individuals to marry other individuals of the same sex within New York, but other states do permit same-sex marriages to take place.

In November, the office issued an opinion concerning group health plan members who marry same-sex spouses in states that permit same-sex marriages to take place.

In that opinion and a later circular letter, the New York department said group health plans should treat participants’ same-sex spouses the same way they would treat opposite-sex spouses.

In the new opinion, Office of the General Counsel staffers say the same principles apply to group term life, group short-term disability and group long-term disability plans.

Although the November 2008 “opinion focuses principally on health insurance, both the opinion and the circular letter note that the opinion’s analyses and conclusions are ‘applicable to all other kinds of insurance, too,’” office staffers write in opinion.

The circular letter based on the November 2008 opinion “applies to group long-term and short-term disability insurance, which are types of accident and health insurance, and to group term life insurance,” the staffers write.

A copy of the New York opinion is available here.