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Australia’s life insurers support ban on industry use of genetic test results

The Council of Australian Life Insurers (CALI) supports a ban on the use of genetic test results in insurance underwriting to help empower Australians to better manage their health.

“With genetic testing becoming more prevalent in the community, now is the time for Federal Government regulation to ensure that no Australian is deterred from taking a genetic test to proactively manage their health,” said CALI CEO Christine Cupitt.

CALI’s 19 members recognise that genetic testing can play an important role in giving people peace of mind and empowering them to reduce potential health risks.

“It has never been the intention of the life insurance industry to deter people from taking genetic tests that give them more information about their overall health,” Ms Cupitt said.

“Australia’s life insurers have never, and would never, require someone to take a genetic test for the purposes of underwriting.

Life insurers want to support Australians to be able to manage their health in a preventative way and recognise that genetic testing plays an important part in empowering them to do so.”

As outlined in CALI’s submission to the Treasury inquiry on this issue, the life insurance industry supports strict regulation on the use of genetic test results in underwriting, with limited Government approved exclusions to guarantee fairness for all insured Australians.

“We want to deliver the protection and certainty millions of Australians need on their best and worst days. Declining to offer cover is rare and only ever a last resort.”

Background on the use of genetic testing by life insurers

Australia’s life insurers consistently and carefully consider how they can best meet the evolving expectations of the people they serve. The Life Insurance Code of Practice (Life Code) clearly states that regardless of the amount of cover, life insurers will not ask or encourage people to take a genetic test.

The Life Code sets standards higher than the law to expand Australians’ access to the life insurance protection that suits them when they need it most.

Once a person has obtained life insurance, any future genetic tests do not need to be disclosed to their insurer and will not affect their level of cover or premiums.

Around 15 million people are protected by life insurance in Australia. The majority obtained their cover without ever having to disclose the results of a genetic test.

Australians can currently access affordable life insurance cover that is meaningful to them through their superannuation without ever worrying whether they’ll have to share the results of a genetic test.

When a person does disclose a genetic test to a life insurer, it typically works in their favour by indicating a reduced risk of a certain genetic condition. In more than 80 per cent of cases there is no impact on the final underwriting decision and in 14 per cent of cases there is a positive impact.

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