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Life insurers back tough regulations on genetic tests 

The Council of Australian Life Insurers supports “strict” rules around the use of genetic test results in insurance underwriting, as Treasury consults on possible changes to the legislative set-up. 

“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,” CEO Christine Cupitt said. 

Treasury consultation closed last week and in its discussion paper, three regulatory options were proposed. The first recommends no government intervention, the second either a total or partial ban on the use of genetic test results, and the third calls for setting a financial limit at which insurers cannot request or utilise adverse genetic test results in their underwriting. 

The council says in its submission to Treasury that the industry backs a ban on the use of genetic tests in underwriting, with limited exclusions approved by the Government, to guarantee fairness for all insureds. 

It says strict regulations should include features such as allowing a person to voluntarily disclose a genetic test – and an insurer to take it into account – if it is to that person’s benefit. 

It says insurers should be allowed to continue asking people to disclose, and use as part of the underwriting process, any diagnosis of a condition, even if the diagnosis resulted directly or indirectly from a genetic test. 

“It is essential that government regulation does not undermine the principle that where a person has been diagnosed with a condition, they should disclose that when making an application for life insurance, regardless of how the condition has been diagnosed,” the submission said. 

“In these circumstances, insurers should be able to ask for and use the genetic test in underwriting to assess the risk they are being asked to insure. This would mean diagnostic genetic tests would be treated the same as any other diagnostic medical test, such as a blood test or an ECG, which are typically initiated by the treating doctor.” 

Click here for more from the submission.