The Financial Services Council has begun consultation on a new moratorium to stop using genetic test results as a part of life insurance applications.
Speaking at an event in Sydney, FSC chief executive Sally Loane said the moratorium will start on 1 July 2019, and is part of its commitment to genetic inclusion.
“Life insurance, and the entire financial services industry, recognises that we need to do a better job listening to the concerns of the community and acting where we can,” Ms Loane said.
“This new moratorium is a great example of inclusion at work – it will free Australians from the fear of taking a genetic test as the result will no longer prevent anyone taking out life insurance.”
Key features of the new moratorium, according to the FSC, include:
- Being in place until at least 30 June 2024;
- A review in 2022 to consider its objectives and the impact on other policyholders;
- People being allowed to choose to disclose a favourable genetic test result;
- Independent oversight by the Life Code Compliance Committee; and
- Insurance cover limits compare favourably with other countries, with sums including lump sum $500,000 for death and total and permanent disability, $200,000 for trauma, $4,000 a month for income protection.
Ms Loane said the July 2019 start date will allow time to discuss these issues with the genetics community and allow life insurers time to change their online and paper application questions, underwriting manuals, algorithms and systems, and complete required staff training.
“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,” she 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.
“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.”