4 Mar 2009

Call for body to monitor insurers' use of genetic info

8:36 pm on 4 March 2009

Otago University-led researchers say an independent organisation is needed to protect New Zealanders over the use of sensitive genetic information by insurance firms.

Their comments were included in the final report on the Human Genome Research project, released on Wednesday.

The project was launched with Law Foundation backing to explore how major and rapid advances in genetic knowledge will affect society generally.

It says if people have had a genetic test, they must hand the results to their insurer.

Researchers say that, though the use of genetic information by insurers seems reasonable, a non-statutory committee could monitor the use and prevent irrational decisions based on it.

It could also ensure that insurers explain their decisions.

The Investment Savings and Insurance Association says the use of genetic tests in underwriting will increase and it welcomes the findings.