Genetic Underwriting Essay

2173 words - 9 pages

Introduction
True is that genetic technology, as an emerging part of contemporary medicine practice, is advancing rapidly throughout the world especially during the recent years. Hence, the life insurance companies have developed a strong interest in the genetic test data and sought desperately the approval to use it in the field of underwriting for life insurance policies. Certain debates and various discussions have been brought forth subsequently, resulting in different points of views from distinctive levels of people. On one hand, a majority of insurance underwriters maintains that genetic test data, a kind of advanced scientific and trust-worthy achievement, does bring about ...view middle of the document...

et al, 2001, p.51). Thus, the insurers could estimate consumers’ health condition in more objective and scientific ways and offer more appropriate policy considering the unique circumstance of each applicant. Moreover, not only family history, but also a slew of other vital individual information like personal financial status, as intimate as genetic data, have been collected and analyzed by insurance companies when customers were applying for a certain policy. Evidently, it turned out that the insurers were capable of dealing with those types of sensitive data in an appropriate way and successfully kept the privacy for their policyholders. ‘The Privacy Commissioner has noted that there is general satisfaction with the handling of information by the life insurance industry.’ (Privacy Commissioner, Information Paper Number 5, September 1996).As a result, there is sufficient reason to believe that they are able to control the genetic test data properly as well.

In addition, genetic test data are beneficial to provide with adequate and complete personal material for insurance companies to calculate a reasonable sum of premium. It is acknowledged that collecting a fair amount of insurance premium is of great importance but with high difficulties. To be more exact, it is quite hard to measure whether the amount is acceptable and equitable for both the insurers and policyholders and whether it is large enough to cover the future payments and expenses, including benefits, dividends and bonus or not. In particular, for some certain types of life insurance policy, only a single lump sum of premium is purchased. The life insurance field, however, is full of uncertainties and risks so that it is reasonable to say that many unpredictable conditions may occur in the future. So if the amount of single premium charged too small and unfortunately the uncertainties happen later, the insurance companies might be unable to keep their promise to pay back the pre-agreed amount of annuities. What is worse, if the number of sold policies is too large, and in other words, the company sold too much this kind of policies, it might suffer from financial crisis or even bankruptcy. Actually, it is insurance that means to face widespread economic uncertain risks and probabilities occurred by chance. (Pokorski, R. J., Swiss R. & Fairfield, C. T., 1997, p.205) Therefore, only if possessing sufficient relevant and exact individual information of the applicants can the insurers charge the relatively fair amount of premium and reduce their financial risks to great extent at the same time. Now under the help of genetic test data, the accuracy and completeness will increase greatly. Because, like there are no two same leaves in the world, the genetic make-up of each person is the unique and it may indicate the probability of some diseases in an asymptomatic carrier (Doble, A. et al, 2001, p.50). By this means, the insurance companies will less possibly to suffer from uncertain...

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