The New York State Department of Financial Services has told automobile insurers and insurance producers that it will not tolerate rate discrimination against newly-licensed undocumented immigrants. In a circular letter dated January 16, 2020, the department advised that these drivers "should not be subjected to any unfairly discriminatory practices when they seek motor vehicle insurance."
The letter follows the enactment last year of New York's "Green Light Law." The law, passed by the State Legislature and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last spring, allows all New Yorkers of legal driving age to apply for a standard, not for federal purpose, non-commercial driver license or learner permit, regardless of their citizenship or lawful status in the United States. It took effect last month.
The letter, signed by Deputy Superintendent - Property & Casualty Insurance Stephen Doody, said that an insurer should:
- Recognize that these drivers may have driving histories from their original homelands that an insurers might consider for underwriting purposes
- Not deny, based on immigration status, a driver's opportunity to participate in useage-based or telematics programs
- Eliminate bias, disparate impact or factor useage based on immigration status from its underwriting and rating data sources, formulas and models
- Remember existing state laws against discrimination based on lack of credit history and unfair rate discrimination
The department warned of potential disciplinary action against insurers or producers who undercut the Green Light Law's purpose by reneging on their legal obligations.