Australians can now take a genetic test and keep the result secret from life insurance companies

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  • Withholding the results of genetic testing will soon not be an excuse to refuse life insurance cover.
  • The moratorium will start July 1 next year.
  • Australia will be the only country in the world outside the UK where a favourable genetic test result can be disclosed, but an adverse result doesn’t have to be.

The insurance industry plans to allow life cover for people who withhold genetic test results.

The industry says this means Australians can get up to $500,000 of life cover without having to disclose an adverse test result.

Financial Services Council CEO Sally Loane says the moratorium will start July next year.

“Life insurance, and the entire financial services industry, recognises that we need to do a better job listening to the concerns of the community and acting where we can,” says Loane.

“The moratorium will mean that people can take part in genetic research, or take a test individually, without fear that the result will stop them taking out life insurance.

“Australia will be 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.

“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.”

People with a favourable genetic test result will continue to be able to use it to show that they do not have the gene pattern associated with an illness that runs in their family.

Life insurers must also take into account any protective treatment an applicant has had to prevent them developing an illness that runs in their family.

The insurance cover limits are: lump sum $500,000 for death and total and permanent disability, $200,000 for trauma, $4,000 a month for income protection.

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