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Learning More About Illinois Civil Unions and Insurance Benefits

By Nottage and Ward on July 1, 2011

At the end of May, the Illinois Department of Insurance released new guidelines for insurance companies and consumers to follow in response to the “Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,” which became law on June 1. Under the Act, people who choose to enter into a civil union in Illinois will be given many of the same legal rights given to married couples. During the course of the next few months, our blog will explain in greater detail the effect the new law has upon health insurance, Medicare, life insurance, property insurance, pensions, and more.

All insurance policies in Illinois that were issued on or after June 1, 2011 by an insurance company registered with the State of Illinois are to conform to the new law. Civil union spouses are also entitled to the same benefits as married spouses under Illinois workers’ compensation insurance.

In regards to insurance eligibility, benefits, and policies governed by Illinois law, a spouse in a civil union is to be treated identically to a spouse in a marriage. According to the Illinois Department of Insurance, the Civil Union Law will be “liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes.” If any ambiguity exists regarding how the law applies to an insurance policy or whether it applies at all, the ambiguity is to be resolved in favor of the person in the civil union.

Insurers in Illinois are not allowed to enforce more stringent requirements on applicants, policyholders, or claimants to prove a civil union than what is required to prove a marriage. For example, an insurer is not permitted to require evidence or certification that a couple who is joined by a civil union shares a residence, jointly owns real estate, or has a joint bank account, unless the insurer also requires these things of couples who are married to prove the marriage.

The Chicago civil union attorneys at Nottage and Ward are here to answer any questions you may have if you are considering entering into a civil union in Illinois. Call 312-332-2915 to schedule a consultation today.

For more information, please continue to check back with our blog for our ongoing blog series about the insurance benefits now granted to those who chose to enter into a civil union in Illinois. You can also visit http://www.insurance.illinois.gov/ to learn more.

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