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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Mass. AG reaches agreement over same-sex spouse benefits with insurer

By Bryan Cohen | Jan 8, 2014


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced an agreement on Friday with the United States Automobile Association that will provide equal insurance benefits to same-sex spouses of service members in the state.

Under the terms of an assurance of discontinuance, USAA agreed to provide equal insurance benefits and membership to any same-sex currently unmarried widower, widow or divorced spouse of a USAA member whom it improperly denied membership in the past. USAA also agreed to pay $50,000 to the state of Massachusetts.

USAA membership is typically limited to current and former members of any U.S. military branch, unmarried widows, widowers and divorced spouses of USAA members and the children of the service members. Typically, when a spouse is a member, the other spouse is a beneficiary, and a death or divorce makes the beneficiary eligible for membership.

Coakley's office alleged that USAA dropped the insurance of a widower after his spouse, a USAA member, passed away.

"We have marriage equality in Massachusetts, and same-sex couples should have the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples," Coakley said. "USAA will now offer equal insurance benefits to all of those who are eligible, including to same-sex widows of service members."

USAA did not previously recognize marriages between same-sex spouses in Massachusetts until July 2012. As a result, when a same-sex marriage ended in Massachusetts, USAA did not offer membership to the widow, widower or divorced spouse.

Massachusetts began licensing marriages between same-sex couples in 2004.

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