All Australian life insurance companies will adhere to the Financial Services Council (FSC) moratorium on genetic testing for life insurance cover up to $500,000.
The moratorium will come into effect from Monday, 1 July and follows extensive consultation with the life insurance industry and genomics community.
Announcing the moratorium, the FSC pointed out that its standards were mandatory for FSC members and that all companies offering life insurance in Australia were members of the FSC.
Commenting on the move, FSC chief executive, Sally Loane said it meant that people could decline to share genetic testing with their life insurer.
“We know the community benefits from genomic research and the Moratorium is key to giving Australians the reassurance they need and the flexibility to evolve as the science does,” Loane said. “Genomic research has already led to better treatments for a number of illnesses, such as breast cancer, and has led to new ways for people to understand and better manage their health risks.”
“Australia aims to be at the forefront of genomic science and is now 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,” she said.
“The FSC believes it is vital to have an agile solution like a Moratorium which, unlike legislation, can easily adapt and change as new breakthroughs are discovered – which is why we committed to having it in place by 1 July this year.”
The FSC said the moratorium would be regularly reviewed to support scientific research and genetic inclusion, while protecting the interest of the wider community who had life insurance.
It said the moratorium would be included in the Life Insurance Code of Practice which is currently under review, meaning the Moratorium would have independent oversite by the life code compliance committee who would have the power to sanction members who do not comply.
Key features of the new moratorium include:
- In place until at least 30 June 2024.
- Reviewed in 2022 with a view to extending the end date, the financial limits and any other required changes.
- Allows consumers to choose to disclose a favourable genetic test result.
- The insurance cover limits compare favourably with other countries, being closely aligned to Switzerland and Germany, and significantly higher than Sweden and Holland.