Last week, State Farm insurance announced a significant change in their corporate policy. The company will be extending health care coverage and other benefits to the same-sex partners of its agents, agency staff members, employees, and retirees, so long as they’re in legally recognized relationships.
Such benefits are already offered to employees and their partners in ten jurisdictions where the company operates, but State Farm spokesperson Phil Supple said that the programs will go nationwide as of June 1st, 2011. Supple added that if existing ratios are accurate, the cost of doing so won’t be at all significant.
What brought on this decision? It stems from a change in the laws in State Farm’s home state of Illinois which requires benefits be extended to partners who have civil unions. Even though only two of the insurer’s plans would be subject to the new law, Suppler said, it was decided to extend benefits to all plans and employees (etc.) nationwide in order to be “fair and consistent.” Across the United States, the company has about 68,000 employees and 18,000 agents.
Employees and their partners must be in legally recognized relationships under the laws of the states where they reside, including civil unions, same-sex marriages, and domestic partnerships, in order for the partners to receive benefits, which include medical, dental, vision, life, long-term care, and accidental death and dismemberment coverage.
Another major insurer, Allstate Corp, also offers benefits to same-sex partners (as well as some non-traditional opposite-sex partners who are in document-able exclusive, committed relationships), with such caveats as a demonstrated co-responsibility for each other’s welfare and financial obligations, a shared primary residence, legal adulthood, and no relationships or marriages outside the partnership.
Benefits for Allstate employees include medical, dental, vision, and long-term care coverage, as well as flexible spending accounts.