There are many factors that come into play when obtaining life insurance and that dreaded quote. Simply put, we are not all created equal and things are out of our control. Many criteria are taken into consideration and then crunched by predictive statistical analysis to come out with whether we are a safe gamble or not for insuring.
In order to come about the premium, the Life Insurance company collects information on age, sex, health, lifestyle and family medical history which can include genetics. After collecting the information, the candidate is then put in a group similar to others with a same risk scenario. What might be labeled discrimination, would be associated in the process of placing the candidate into the high or low risk categories according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal .
Family genetics and life insurance is definitely out of our control and we are left to deal with the pros and cons. Recently, genetic testing has become a hot topic because of the advanced research and confirmations of specific mutations such as the BRCA 1. Research states that 55-65% of women that have the mutation will develop breast cancer by the age of 70. In contrast, by a female knowing of this mutation she can make drastic preventive measures which increase the survival outcome.
According to Laura Esserman, a surgeon and breast cancer Oncology Specialist at UC San Francisco, “Those who find out they have the mutation can drastically reduce their risk,” “Knowledge is power.”
In 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was passed to stop health insurance companies from using this information to deny health coverage to high risk genetic individuals. The problem with this law is that it does not apply to life insurance companies because it is simply a private contract between the insurance company and the individual. Life insurance is not deemed something that is required on a federal or state level.
According to the New York Times, an insurance company in Massachusetts called Northwestern
Mutual Insurance states that it does ask potential insurers to share the results of genetic testing for life insurance and if the applicant does not comply it can lead to denial in the application or a higher premium.
As of 2014, when the NY Times article came out, other companies have thought about asking the same question but did not come forward possibly because of the negative press they would receive. This information alone means that it probably is the right time to research companies that provide term life insurance because of the rapidly increasing number of genetic testing companies that have appeared recently.
It is inevitable that life insurance companies will pursue the results of genetic testing because it is a direct impact on the outcome of the insurer’s amount of time they will be paying in or ultimately the lender out. Maybe the only thing delaying the inevitable is the high price tag on testing. It is evident that due to current laws the companies do have the right to find out the information if deemed necessary or available.