Genetic testing and life insurance – Bill S-201

The House of Commons has recently passed legislation, Bill S-201, which will prohibit life insurance companies from accessing an applicant’s genetic test results. With the expanding consumer market provoking debate about the implications of genetic testing for individuals seeking life and health insurance.

Bill S-201 is a private member’s bill that would make it a criminal offense to request access to genetic testing results for commercial purposes including the underwriting of life and living benefits insurance in Canada. The bill would also add genetic characteristics as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, placing it alongside race, religion and other long-standing civil rights.

How will Bill S-201 impact Life insurance?

Genetic test results, like other medical tests, are used in underwriting insurance to provide a more accurate assessment of an applicant’s health and risk factors.  Medical underwriting ensures that the client pays premiums related to their individual risk.

The concern is that this legislation could make it more difficult for all Canadians to access life insurance and living benefits products. Also if people suspect they will be denied insurance, they may avoid genetic testing that could provide valuable information.

What Insurance products will be affected?

Bill S-201 is not specific to life insurance only and will impact all lines of our individually underwritten business including living benefits and medically underwritten group insurance.


Also published on Medium.

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