Woman finds confusing language in insurance policy

September 27, 2011 8:50:18 PM PDT
Kate Fitzgerald has owned her home in Oakland since 2004. She's always had homeowners insurance and to be on the safe side she has always had earthquake insurance too. Recently she was reading through her policies and became concerned.

"I found that their definition of insured is a married couple or a person who is related to you by blood and not domestic partner," Fitzgerald said.

That is an issue since Fitzgerald has a domestic partner and her partner has stuff that could be lost in an earthquake.

"Not only does the California Earthquake Authority not comply with the primary insurance company, its partner, it doesn't comply with state law," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald's homeowner's insurance policy says who is covered, including "your registered domestic partner." But in the earthquake policy -- no domestic partner.

Fitzgerald contacted the Earthquake Authority and was told she was right. Changes were being made this upcoming January.

"I said, 'OK, fair enough, but what happens if there is an earthquake between now and January 2012, will a domestic partner be covered?' and they said 'No,'" Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald wrote 7 on your side and we moved fast. Was there a loophole to California's domestic partner laws?

"The law is the law and the law is insurance equality; if a spouse is covered, a domestic partner is covered," ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson said.

Johnson, looked into it and says it really doesn't matter what the individual polices state.

"Kate shouldn't be concerned; in California we have a thing called the 'Insurance Equality Act.' What is says is for most insurance policies in California, if the coverage includes the spouse, the spouse also includes the domestic partner," Johnson said.

So the insurance company was wrong and when 7 On Your Side checked back, the Earthquake Authority told us it understood it was insuring domestic partners as if they were spouses.


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