Genetics - a testing time for insurers?

by Alan Doble and Jessica Chen


In this paper, two senior actuaries consider the implications of genetic testing on life insurance. 

Key points

  • Genetic testing has far reaching implications for society, well beyond that of insurance. It creates the potential for affected individuals to mitigate the risk of inherited disease. 
  • The use of genetic information is likely to increase due to rapidly declining test costs and the increased understanding of genetic research results. 
  • The genetics community in Australia sees a need to reduce barriers for people who want to understand their genetic make-up, primarily for health or family reasons. The life insurance community has been concerned about the potential for anti-selection by people who do not disclose their test results thus potentially affecting the access to, and cost of, insurance cover. 
  • The authors of this paper believe the time has come to reconsider these issues. All parties should welcome the chance to join in the discussion. The best solutions are likely to be found if the public are involved in the decision process with input from medical professionals, genetics researchers and insurers.

The Dialogue is a series of papers written by actuaries and published by the Actuaries Institute. The papers aim to stimulate discussion on important emerging issues. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of either the Institute of Actuaries of Australia (the ‘Institute’), its members, directors, officers, employees, agents, or that of the employers of the author