From 1 July next year, adverse results on genetic tests will no longer be cause to raise life insurance premiums or withhold policies. This will bring Australia in line with the UK as the only countries in the world where positive results for genetic tests do not have to be disclosed.
The moratorium will allow Australians to receive up to $500,000 of life cover without having to divulge test results.
In a statement released today, Sally Loane, CEO of the Financial Services Council, said the change signals the FSC’s commitment to genetic inclusion.
“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,” she said.
Ms Loane said the life insurance industry identified the need for genetic testing to improve the health outcomes of all Australians.
“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,” she said.
Favourable test results will still be able to be used to indicate that a person does not have the genetic predisposition to a family illness.
Prior to the moratorium, Australians have legally been required to disclose if they have undergone genetic testing and the withholding of such information could have been considered fraud.
The announcement of the change comes on the back of the parliamentary joint committee on corporations and financial services inquiry into the life insurance industry. The findings of the inquiry, announced in March this year, provoked the suggestion that life insurance companies be banned from using predictive genetic testing when assessing an individual’s insurance coverage.
The report recommended the FSC and the Australian Genetic Non-Discrimination Working Group consider the implementation of a moratorium on the utilisation of genetic testing.
Labor MP Matt Keogh said at the time, “If the FSC and life insurers are unable to get to this position and achieve compliance, legislative intervention will be required."
The moratorium will be in place until at least 30 June 2024 and will be independently overseen by the Life Code Compliance Committee.