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Interesting Question

I was reviewing a life insurance application recently, and came across a yes-or-no question about whether the applicant’s driver’s license was suspended.

Hmmm. Interesting question.

I was reviewing the application for compliance in New York. The Life Insurance Application Outline says no question may be asked about past arrest or imprisonment; questions are allowed only about past convictions or a pending legal matter. A suspension certainly means something happened in the past, and maybe it was a conviction, but maybe it wasn’t.

A license can be suspended for obvious reasons, such as driving without liability insurance, DWI, and failing to pay a traffic ticket fine.

But the state can also suspend a driver’s license for failure to pay child support, and for owing more than $10,000 in taxes without a plan in place to pay it back.

I could not guess how the Life Bureau might react to the question (Is your driver’s license suspended or revoked?) given the possible connection to dubious financial matters.

So I called the Department.

The answer was not obvious to the attorney I asked. Unwaveringly polite, she said she’d get back to me. Which she did, after conferring with others at NYSDFS. And it turns out that the question is allowed.

I was surprised. I had put the odds in favor of the Department not allowing it. But the surprise was pleasant.