Genetics and Insurance in Australia: Concerns around a Self-Regulated Industry

Ainsley J. Newson, Jane Tiller, Louise A. Keogh, Margaret Otlowski, Paul Lacaze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Regulating the use of genetic information in insurance is an issue of ongoing international debate. In Australia, providers of life and other mutually rated insurance products can request applicants to disclose all results from any genetic test. Insurers can then use this information to adjust premiums and make policy decisions. The Australian Financial Services Council (FSC; an industry body) developed and maintains the relevant industry standard, which was updated in late 2016. Aims/Objective: To review the 2016 FSC Standard in light of relevant research and determine the legitimacy of the Australian regulatory environment regarding use of genetic information by insurers. Results: We identified five concerns arising from the 2016 FSC Standard: (1) use of results obtained from research; (2) the requirement for an applicant to disclose whether they are "considering" a genetic test; (3) failure to account for genome sequencing and other technology developments; (4) limited evidence regarding adverse selection; and (5) the inappropriateness of industry self-regulation. Conclusion: Industry self-regulation of the use of genetic information by life insurers, combined with a lack of government oversight, is inappropriate and threatens to impede the progress of genomic medicine in Australia. At this critical time, Australia requires closer government oversight of the use of genetic information in insurance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-256
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Health Genomics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Access to life and other insurances
  • Genetic research
  • Genetic testing
  • Genetic testing policy
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Health policy
  • Life insurance
  • Policy
  • Regulation

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