The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on May 30, 2005, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.

Re: Foreign Embassy or Consulate as Employer for Purposes of Group Life/Health Insurance Policy

Question Presented:

Does a foreign embassy or consulate qualify as an employer for purposes of qualifying for a group health or group life insurance policy?




The inquiry is general in nature.


The groups eligible for group health insurance in New York are set forth in N.Y. Ins. Law § 4235(c)(1) (McKinney 2000 & Supp. 2005). Specifically, Section 4235(c)(1)(A) provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

(c)(1) No policy of group accident, group health or group accident and health insurance shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this state unless it conforms to one of the following descriptions:

(A) A policy issued to an employer or to a trustee or trustees of a fund established by an employer, which employer or trustee or trustees shall be deemed the policyholder, insuring with or without evidence of insurability satisfactory to the insurer, employees of such employer, and insuring, except as hereinafter provided, all of such employees or all of any class or classes thereof determined by conditions pertaining to the employment or a combination of such conditions and conditions pertaining to the family status of the employee, for insurance coverage on each person insured based upon some plan which will preclude individual selection….

N.Y. Ins. Law § 4216(b)(1) (McKinney 2000 & Supp. 2005), which addresses group life insurance policies, contains a similar provision. Pursuant to N.Y. Ins. Law §§ 4235(c)(1)(A) and 4216(b)(1), a foreign embassy or foreign consulate could qualify as an employer for purposes of obtaining group health and group life insurance policies, provided that the proposed insureds have an employer/employee relationship with the foreign embassy or consulate.

This opinion is limited to an interpretation of the Insurance Law. No opinion is hereby given with respect to any other state, federal or international law.

For further information please contact Associate Attorney D. Monica Marsh at the New York City Office.