Life Insurance Articles


Summary

The life insurance industry seeks approval to ask women for test results that can predict breast and ovarian cancer. This article explains.

Life Insurance and Critical Illness Insurance. Cancer tests to increase women's premiums

Author: Michael Challiner 22/12/05

Ladies, if your mother or any other female blood-line relatives have a history of breast or ovarian cancer then from next year onwards, you could face higher insurance premiums. You could even be refused cover altogether.

When these women apply for life and critical illness cover, the insurance industry wants to ask them whether they have been tested for the gene mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2. These are the gene complications that increase the chances of them developing these cancers. But before the insurance companies can ask these questions on their application forms, they must get approval from the Genetics and Insurance Committee, the body that advises the Government on these and similar issues.

In the coming months the Association of British Insurers (ABI) will be requesting the Committee for authority to ask women whether they have been tested positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. These are the mutations that are present in 1 in 10 of newly diagnosed cases of ovarian cancer and 1 in 20 of new cases of breast cancer. Approximately 1 in 850 women in Britain inherit a faulty BRCA1 gene and of those, 14 – 18% will develop breast cancer during in their lives.

On the web site for the Genetics and Insurance Committee we found a notice saying, ” The Committee expects that the Association of British Insurers will submit in late 2006/2007 four revised and updated applications for the use of adverse results from the predictive genetic tests of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (breast/ovarian cancer) in helping to determine insurance premiums for life and critical illness insurance”.

So far, application forms issued by British insurance companies are only allowed to ask for the results of predictive tests for Huntington's disease. Even then, the question can only be asked when the application is for more than £500,000 of life insurance cover or mote than £300,000 for critical illness insurance or over £30,000 for payment protection insurance. This rule is set under an agreement entered into by the insurance industry which is due to expire in 2011 but the Chairman of the ABI's Genetics Working Party, Harpal Karlcut, is reported in the trade insurance magazine “Cover”, as saying: -

“We are looking to get approval for the breast cancer test by the end of the year”, adding, “The two breast cancers are the next conditions that we will look at but after that we don't see the need to look at other conditions. We do keep an eye out for what diseases may come up in the future but there is nothing else on the horizon”. We add another important rider – yet!

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