Life insurers are forming a position on a legal opinion from the insurance regulator that allows insured individuals in same-sex relationships to enter their partners as beneficiaries of insurance policies.
The legal opinion from the Insurance Commission (IC) affirms that any person who secures an insurance policy on his or her own life may designate anyone as beneficiary whether he is male, female, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ+).

Referring to the IC’s legal opinion, Mr George Mina, general manager of Philippine Life Insurance Association, an industry group, told Philippine Star, “Regret that we cannot comment at the moment as we will still convene our underwriting & claims committee to assess our position.”

He was asked for comments on the legal opinion, titled “Insured’s Right to Designate Beneficiary” issued on 5 March by the IC. The opinion states that “the insured who secures a life insurance policy on his or her own life may designate any individual as beneficiary”, subject to exceptions set out under laws such as those barring certain people (such as office bearers) from receiving gifts.

The IC issued the legal opinion in response to a letter it had received on 20 January 2020 requesting for the issuance of guidelines in relation to the right of the insured to designate a beneficiary, “particularly the right of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community to designate their domestic partners as beneficiaries of their life insurance”.

Mr Mina says that, even prior to this legal opinion, nothing stops insurers from accepting as beneficiary the LGBTQ partner of an insured, and in fact some have already done so.

Unlike married couples, however, naming a same-sex partner as insurance beneficiary can be a tedious task. “It depends on the underwriting rules of the companies,” Mr Mina said.

For some insurers, an “insurable interest” is required, that is, “proof of loss on the part beneficiary if the insured dies.” Some beneficiaries, unrelated to the insured by family ties, have cited business partnerships or loans as a basis for insurable interest.

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