Life Insurers Support Initiatives to Reduce Opioid Overdoses

Sep 11, 2019

The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) on September 6 updated guidance for life insurers reviewing applications from people who have a prescription for the anti-opioid drug naloxone – also known as Narcan.

NYDFS says it’s illegal for insurance companies to deny life, disability income or long-term care insurance to applicants based solely on whether they carry a prescription for the drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

Life insurers supported New York’s efforts on the Narcan issue this year. They also worked closely earlier this year on the issue with the state insurance legislators group and Texas lawmakers. The goal shared by all is the removal of any barrier that would discourage people from taking steps, such as carrying Narcan, to help a loved one, a friend or even a stranger who has overdosed.

This week’s guidance also aligns with industry advocacy efforts begun last year to protect “Good Samaritans” and others on the front lines battling this epidemic. Good Samaritans need industry products to financially safeguard their families just like millions of other Americans.

If a healthy and otherwise insurable Good Samaritan with a Narcan prescription applies for coverage, he or she will very likely get it.  

To be sure, a Narcan prescription is a red flag for any life insurer. It may prompt questions and a deeper review of the request for coverage and reason for the prescription. Indeed, a life insurer would not be doing its job of assessing the risks it assumes on behalf of current and future policyholders if it did not notice and evaluate such a prescription. That is why life insurers ask applicants to provide all medically relevant information when seeking coverage.

Denials based solely on the existence of a prescription for naloxone are a thing of the past. Life insurers have become fully aware of the outstanding efforts of Good Samaritans, friends and family members of people struggling with the addiction. Insurers have been diligently educating their staffs about the issue and updating their application review processes.

Life insurers are honored to financially protect the lives of those who save others.

Jack Dolan

Jack Dolan is Vice President, Public Affairs at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). A former journalist and Capitol Hill aide, he joined ACLI in 1991. He has represented ACLI in print, broadcast and online news outlets on a wide range of financial and retirement security issues facing American families.