Local & Regional
4:54 pm
Mon October 5, 2009

Domestic Violence Month

Oklahoma City, OK – Crime's impact on every aspect of our society is clear to Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and that's why he is concerned that Oklahoma is included on a very short list of states that does not prohibit insurers from viewing domestic violence injuries as pre-existing conditions.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Attorney General Drew Edmondson said now is the perfect time to focus not only on the crime but also how it radiates outside its traditional parameters.

"The attorney in charge of our office's Victim Services Unit brought me a copy of a recent article from the Huffington Post titled, When Getting Beaten by Your Husband is a Pre-Existing Condition,'" Edmondson said. "The article says that Oklahoma is one of only seven states, along with the District of Columbia, that does not prohibit insurance companies from viewing injuries suffered by victims of domestic violence as pre-existing conditions."

Concerned about the implications of the absence of such a law, the attorney general immediately tasked his victim services attorney with finding out if the article was accurate and, if so, how to fix the problem.

"We are in contact with Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland," Edmondson said. "She has informed us that domestic violence injuries are not singled out in statute as a class' that can be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, our statutes lack language that specifically prohibit injuries from domestic violence from being classified as such."

In other words, the attorney general said, an insurance company cannot ask a woman if she has suffered from domestic violence and then deny coverage based on the answer, but, a company could deny coverage, based on pre-existing condition, for injuries arising from a domestic violence assault.

Edmondson said his office is working with Holland's office on language to protect victims of domestic assault from being victimized a second time by the denial of insurance coverage.

"Domestic violence is a crime," Edmondson said, "and should be approached as such. It is our responsibility as law enforcement officials to get the victim to a safe place and place the abuser in custody.

"But, I would argue, our job does not end there," Edmondson said. "Protecting the public goes beyond investigation, arrest and prosecution. It is our job as law enforcement officials to stand up for the abused and the victimized, even when the battle to be fought is on unfamiliar ground."