Life insurance is incredibly important, providing reassurance in the event of your death, contraction of critical illness or terminal illness amongst other things. The policy will provide you and your loved ones with financial support in adverse circumstances.
Topically, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has extended a ban which prevents insurers from using genetic testing to deny cover or increase insurance premiums. The restriction was due to run out in 2011 but has been extended until 2014. People have been worried about taking the tests in case insurance companies used the results against them.
There are fears that these new tests will create a “genetic underclass” that are uninsurable. In order to gain insurance, experts were worried that individuals would avoid taking tests that were important for their health.
The restriction was first agreed with the government in 2001 and states that insurers can only ask customers if they have had the testing I they require a policy to cover them for over £500,000. If the individual requests a policy over this amount then the company is allowed to ask for the test results. These tests are approved by the Government’s Genetics and Insurance Committee who has approved the tests for the brain degenerating Huntington’s disease. According to the Association of British Insurers, only 3% of policies requested in the UK are worth over £500,000.
The ABI states that insurance companies should be allowed access to any information which can help them assess and price fairly, the risk which potential customers may pose. However, the price for cover should be based on sound and extensive information. Customers are encouraged to admit to any diseases or illnesses that they have or have had and that run in the family. By admitting to these illnesses, insurers can price their policies accordingly. If customers do not admit these illnesses on beginning a new policy they may risk the insurance company paying out for more costly claims and pushing up prices for all in the future.
The ABI’s restriction (Moratorium) is designed to balance the concerns of policy holders and potential policy holders with a fair and commercially viable insurance market for all. The evidence insurers may gain from the genetic tests must be of a higher standard and be approved by an independent Government appointed committee.
The point of the Moratorium is to protect the interests of both insurance companies and their prospective customers. Insurance companies will be allowed access to information and customers will not be pressurized into taking these tests.