Governor Hochul Signs Legislation to Protect Victims of Hate Crimes from Being Mistreated by Insurance Companies

Originally published in Insurance Newsnet

ALBANY, New York, Dec. 13 -- Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-New York, issued the following news release on Dec. 12, 2022:

Governor Hochul today signed legislation (S.7658-B/A.8869-B) that protects victims of hate crimes from being mistreated by insurance companies. The new law prohibits insurers from canceling insurance, raising premiums, refusing to issue a policy or refusing to renew a policy solely on the basis that one or more claims have been made for a loss that is a result of a hate crime. This new law will apply to individuals, religious organizations, or nonprofits organized and operated for religious, charitable or educational purposes.

"New York stands strong against acts of hate wherever they occur, and we will continue to hold perpetrators of these horrific crimes accountable," Governor Hochul said. "If an individual is targeted for a hate crime, the last thing they should worry about is losing their insurance, and with this legislation we are taking action to protect victims and ensure every New Yorker is treated with dignity and respect."

Legislation (S.7658-B/A.8869-B) adds a new section to the insurance law prohibiting an insurer issuing policies in New York from cancelling, raising the premium, refusing to issue or refusing to renew a policy solely on the basis that one or more claims have been made against the policy during the preceding five years for a loss that is the result of a hate crime committed against the person or property insured, if the insured provides evidence to the insurer that the act causing such a loss is a hate crime. It also ensures perpetrators of hate crimes cannot use the legislation to protect themselves from rate increases or cancellations as a result of the crime they themselves committed.

State Senator Anna M. Kaplan said, "As a Jewish refugee who came to this country fleeing antisemitic violence in my homeland, my heart aches over the explosion of hate and extremist fueled violence that we've seen in this country since the pandemic. I've been proud to stand up and fight back against hate at every opportunity, but we need to do more, and this legislation is an important step to make clear that hate has no place in New York State. No one who is the victim of a hate crime should fear reprisals from their insurance company just for reporting what's happened to them, and every victim should feel comfortable reporting hate to the police to allow justice to be served. I'm grateful for the Governor's efforts to tackle this crisis head-on, and for signing this bill into law to remove barriers to justice that continue to harm victims."

Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein said, "Victims of hate crimes do not deserve to be discriminated against once again. This bill will ensure that insurance companies maintain their policies despite any claims incurred due to hate crimes. Thank you Governor Hochul for recognizing the significance of this legislation and standing up for the victim's rights."

Since taking office, Governor Hochul has taken robust action to combat hateful violence and all forms of hate crimes. In November, Governor Hochul signed legislation requiring individuals convicted of hate crimes to undergo mandatory training or counseling, as well as establish a statewide campaign for the acceptance, inclusion, tolerance, and understanding of diversity, including, but not limited to diversity based on religion, race, color, creed, sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. The Governor also announced $50 million to strengthen safety and security measures at nonprofit, community-based organizations at risk of hate crimes, in addition to $46 million in federal funding to 240 nonprofit organizations across the state facing an increased risk of terrorist attack. This builds on last year's $43 million in grants awarded to 362 nonprofit organizations to help boost security infrastructure and enhance preparedness against potential hate crime attacks. In addition, the Governor's FY2023 Enacted Budget expands arrest and bail eligibility for hate crimes, making all hate crimes arrest-eligible if the individual is eighteen or older.