On May 4, 2017, Bill S-201: An Act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination received Royal Assent and became law. The bill prohibits any person or insurance company from requiring an individual to undergo a genetic test or requiring an individual to disclose the results of a genetic test as a condition of obtaining insurance. Also, Bill S-201 prohibits insurers from requesting the results of genetic tests as a method of classifying a risk. Anyone in breach of the law faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.
This means that individuals who apply for life or critical illness insurance will not have to disclose the results of any genetic tests, nor will they be required to take a genetic test as part of the underwriting process. Although applicants are still required to disclose the results of any recent medical tests, this no longer applies to genetic test results. Insurance companies are unable to take genetic test results into consideration when they assess insurance applications.
While the results of genetic tests can no longer be used as a method of underwriting, insurance companies still have many other tools at their disposal. They can request fluid samples, have applicants undergo an electrocardiogram test, look at driving records, and much more, as they have been doing before genetic testing became more prominent in recent years. Using a combination of these tools have allowed them to properly classify risks, so the prohibition of the requirement of genetic testing will not have a significant impact on the way the insurance companies do business.
For applicants, undergoing a genetic test can uncover meaningful health information that can potentially save a life. Bill S-201 means they no longer have to fear the results of genetic tests used against them by an insurance company.
Underwriting is constantly evolving, and with insurance companies now being able to offer face amounts of up to $1 million without medical testing, you can be certain that other methods will be developed for the insurance company to properly classify a risk. Just don’t expect genetic testing to be one of them anytime soon.
Image courtesy of dream designs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net