A bill filed by Newton State Rep. Ruth Balser and State Sen, Jason Lewis to prevent gender discrimination in disability insurance was signed into law Thursday by Governor Charlie Baker.
In the state-regulated individual insurance market, women pay more than men for the same disability insurance benefits. Filings with the Division of Insurance show that women in Massachusetts pay more for the same disability insurance benefits than men in the same occupation class. This is true across the board, regardless of the insurance company, the age of the purchaser, the occupation class, the duration of benefits, whether long-term or short-term disability insurance. In every case, women pay more. On average, women pay 23.5% more than men. However, sometimes it is even more than that. Under some policies, women pay 61% more than men.
The bill prohibits insurers from charging higher disability insurance premiums based solely on gender, race, religion, or national origin. Currently, state-regulated disability insurance is classified by sex, and filings at the Division of Insurance show different premiums for men and women with the same job classification. For example, male nurses pay less than female nurses for the same disability policy. The new law will address this disparity.
“Women’s rights groups have been working to eliminate gender discrimination in insurance since the 1970s when Massachusetts adopted the Equal Rights amendment to the state constitution. Slowly and incrementally, Massachusetts has eliminated gender disparities in most insurance products including automobile, homeowners, health, and annuities,” Balser, the lead House sponsor of the bill, said in a statement “Today we have eliminated the unfair practice of charging women more than men for the same disability protection. Many thanks to the large coalition of groups led by the Mass Commission on the Status of Women, the legislature, and the Governor for insisting that Massachusetts continues to lead when it comes to ensuring equality for all.”