Genetic testing and its relationship to the protection sector are set to be key priorities of the Association of British Insurers next year.
The ABI rated the UK as a world leader in creating a genomic industry alongside the NHS, ensuring genetic testing’s role in diagnosing rare diseases and cancer.
Genetics also helps to predict the future risk to the health of individuals.
The ABI wants to be at the forefront of insurance-related developments in this area in 2017.
Raluca Boroianu-Omura, the ABI’s assistant Director, for health and protection, told FTAdviser with these advances comes the need to ensure patient trust in all types of new medical testing, and the subsequent use of these new forms of medical information.
“For insurers, ensuring that trust is imperative as they look to harness health information to widen insurance to improve financial resilience, price risk more accurately and to help assess trends in the health of society.,” she said.
“Genetics is one area where the ABI is looking to get ahead of the game.
“We are working with the Department of Health to ensure the voluntary code that exists to give confidence to patients that they can undertake genetic testing, and still access insurance cover, is kept up-to-date with developments in medicine and new sources of health information.”
According to Ms Boroianu-Omura, the government wants to ensure patients’ health data is properly safeguarded and used appropriately.
“But it also wants to build the public’s confidence in sharing health data for the benefit of individuals and wider society,” she said.
“Insurers want to work to the same aims.
“They take data protection and proper use of data seriously. The ABI will continue to work with Government in early 2017 to further build public trust in how genetic information is treated by insurers,” Ms Boroianu- Omura added.
The ABI will also spend early 2017 lobbying the government on the policy response needed to improve take up of income protection.
According to Ms Boroianu-Omura, this starts with raising awareness.
“This could involve the government signposting employers to income protection through a ‘one stop shop’.
“Businesses could also be encouraged to communicate to their employees what would be available to them, if they were unable to work due to health reasons, through an annual ‘protection statement’ outlining someone’s combined sick pay and benefit entitlement.”
The ABI will also push for the government to consider providing a tax incentive for employers that cover their workforce with income protection.
Ms Boroianu-Omura said:“This would to help reduce the cost for businesses, send a strong endorsement from government and provide a stimulus for more intermediaries to speak to their clients about the benefits of income protection.”