Discrimination in insurance

Access to insurance—particularly life and travel insurance—is an area of increasing concern for people affected by cancer, including those who may have a genetic predisposition to, or family history of, cancer.

Key findings

  • Many stakeholders reported difficulties in obtaining insurance following a cancer diagnosis and treatment. However, very few complaints about discrimination are made to the Australian Human Rights Commission or the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
  • There is anecdotal evidence of people being denied insurance based on inadequate data, or with no reasons given.
  • Greater transparency in the collection and use of health information may improve decision-making processes and inspire greater confidence in people affected by cancer, who at the moment, perceive that they will not be treated fairly (whether or not this is actually the case).

Recommendations

  1. That the Insurance Contracts Act be amended to clarify the applicant’s right to information from insurers when they have received an adverse decision based on genetic information, including an entitlement to details of the actuarial, statistical or other data relied on by the insurance company.
  2. Development of education programs and resources to support people affected by cancer to understand and use the protections in the Disability Discrimination Act, and to make a complaint where appropriate; and
  3. More research on the uptake and use of genetic information for the purposes of insurance.

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