Convincing consumers that genetic information will be used equitably will be an uphill struggle for the insurance industry, according to a report published by Swiss Re Life and Health.
More than half of the respondents to Swiss Re’s annual life and health survey said they were unwilling to take a genetic test and less than 20% were prepared to take a test and share the results.
Peter Maynard, head of research at Swiss Re Life and Health said consumers generally saw the development of genetic testing as a good thing, but he added: “They feel it is developing too quickly. It is a dangerous thing that could get out of hand.”
Respondents also expressed doubts about insurers’ ability to handle and store genetic information appropriately and to interpret the results of positive tests.
But Swiss Re Life and Health’s chief underwriter Jerry Brown said the industry has recognised the ethical aspects of genetic testing: “It wouldn’t force people to choose to take a test,” he said.
Brown added that the proportion of impairments that can be tested for are negligible. “I see two or three cases a week at most out of 28,000 applications each year,” he said.