Genetic testing may threaten life insurance, Actuaries Institute says

An Actuaries Institute report suggests that genetic testing may threaten life insurance if it becomes more commonly performed. The Thinking about life insurance through a genetic lens report states that even if just a small proportion of the population is tested each year, the impact of this over time may become significant. 

The researchers note, 'We suggest that once about two to five per cent of the population has undertaken genetic tests, we may see a material impact on the life insurance industry.'

The report says that a concern is the direct-to-consumer companies doing genetic testing, making it difficult to prove non-disclosure and making it easy for customers to 'anti-select' insurers. 

Another consideration was that an increase in claim costs could be due to 'anti-selection' of new applicants by insurers, which could be managed through underwriting processes. Retaining customers when their need for insurance changes for the more positive (as in, they do not have certain genetic predispositions) could also cause insurance levels to drop or to change to accident-only.