Gone are the days when applicants had a deferential attitude towards highly respected financial institutions. In these days of openness, transparency and accountability there will be pressure for insurers to develop and to demonstrate the scientific basis for all of their underwriting policies and decisions and to disclose much more to prospective policyholders on how they are viewed by the underwriting process, especially when they are rated up or refused cover.[1]

27.1 In Chapter 26 the Inquiry expressed the view that there is currently no demonstrated justification for departing from the fundamental principle underlying the market in voluntary, mutually rated insurance, namely, equality of information between the applicant and the insurer. However, the Inquiry noted that a number of concerns had been raised in submissions about the way in which insurers use, or are perceived to use, genetic information in underwriting.

27.2 In response to those concerns, this chapter makes a range of recommendations that are directed toward ensuring that the use of genetic information in insurance is fair and transparent, and that insurers are kept to the terms of the exemption granted to them by anti-discrimination laws. The recommendations are aimed at improving the underwriting process where genetic information is involved, and ensuring that applicants are better informed about the reasons for adverse decisions and the available mechanisms of review. The recommendations also seek to make the review mechanisms more effective.

[1] C Daykin and others, Genetics and Insurance — Some Social Policy Issues (2003), Institute of Actuaries and Faculty of Actuaries, UK, 38.