Life and Health Insurers Adopt New Industry Code on Genetic Testing

TORONTO, Sept. 25, 2014 /CNW/ - The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) today released a new Industry Code on Genetic Testing Information for Insurance Underwriting to be adopted by all of its member life and health insurance companies.

"Canada's life and health insurers recognize the importance of this issue and the impact it has on many Canadians, and that is why we are putting this Industry Code into place," notes Frank Swedlove, CLHIA President. "Our goal is to assist consumers while, at the same time, continue to ensure that all Canadians can access insurance at reasonable and fair prices."

The Industry Code reinforces the industry's long-standing approach of not requiring an individual to undergo genetic testing as part of the application process for life or health insurance. The industry also makes a number of other commitments including:

  • to not require the genetic test results of any person other than the person to be insured;
  • to not ask for genetic test results from applicants whose test results are part of a medical research project where the results are not shared with them or their physician; and
  • to address complaints relating to underwriting decisions involving genetic test results through a dispute resolution system.

Canada's life and health insurers also commit to assisting applicants who are denied life or health insurance. Either directly or through their advisors, insurers will make available information to help them look for other coverage. In addition, companies will certify on an annual basis that they are in compliance with the Industry Code. Member companies will begin implementing the new Industry Code immediately.

"We hope that this Industry Code will provide greater clarity regarding genetic testing information and what consumers can expect when they apply for insurance," adds Mr. Swedlove. Currently, life insurance already in place is not affected by any future genetic test results. This will continue to be the case. Consumers may also want to consider applying and obtaining insurance before undergoing genetic testing.

As is the case with other medical tests, deciding to undergo a genetic test is an important decision. The industry recommends that Canadians thinking about taking a genetic test seek advice from a physician or a genetics counsellor so that they can make an informed choice about whether to take the test.

About the CLHIA

Established in 1894, the CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member companies account for 99 per cent of Canada's life and health insurance business. The industry provides a wide range of financial security products such as life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and supplementary health insurance to 28 million Canadians. It also holds close to $647 billion of assets in Canada and employs about 150,100 Canadians.

SOURCE: Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc.

For further information: Wendy Hope, Vice President, External Relations, (613) 230-0031


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