Aussie Life Insurers Place Halt on Use of Genetic Tests

FSC in Australia, CEO, Sally Loane

The moratorium was announced by the Financial Services Council in Australia, which stated it would begin from 1 July 2019 to allow insurers time to change their online and paper application questions, underwriting manuals, algorithms and systems, and complete required staff training. The halt on testing would be reviewed in 2022 for its impact on stakeholders, and would be in place until at least 30 June 2024.

The Council also detailed the limits to cover under which policy holders would not have to disclose an adverse test result as being $500,000 for lump sum payments for death and total and permanent disability, $200,000 for trauma and $4,000 a month for income protection.

Consumers who had received a favourable genetic test result will continue to be allowed to show they do not have a gene pattern associated with an illness that runs in their family, and insurers must consider any protective treatment an applicant has undergone to prevent them developing an illness that runs in their family.

“…a regularly reviewed moratorium is the right thing to do to support scientific research and genetic inclusion…”

The temporary suspension will be overseen by the independent Life Code Compliance Committee, which also oversees compliance with the FSC Life Insurance Code of Practice.

FSC Chief Executive, Sally Loane said the moratorium was part of the FSC’s commitment to genetic inclusion and would free consumers from fear about taking a genetic test that could prevent them taking out life insurance.

“The moratorium will mean that people can take part in genetic research, or take a test individually, without fear that the result will stop them taking out life insurance,” Loane said.

“When in place, Australia will be the only country in the world outside the United Kingdom where a favourable genetic test result can be disclosed, but an adverse result doesn’t have to be,” she added.

“Given the pace of advances in genomics, a regularly reviewed moratorium is the right thing to do to support scientific research and genetic inclusion, while protecting the interest of the wider community who have life insurance,” Loane said, adding insurers would work with geneticists on implementing the moratorium.