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ASIC/AFCA mooted to oversee genetic testing regime

Mike Taylor28 November 2023
Genetic engineering

The Federal Treasury is actively canvassing giving the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) responsibility for regulating genetic testing by life insurers or, alternatively, the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The Treasury has issued a consultation paper in which it is looking at the future of genetic testing which has been the subject to an industry agreed moratorium for most of the past half-decade.

The consultation paper asserts that effective enforcement will be vital to ensuring consumer confidence in protections built into any new genetic testing regime and states that “the most appropriate enforcement body may ultimately depend on the nature of the limitations adopted”.

It then proposes two options – the AHRC and ASIC, noting that a Government-commissioned report has already recommended the use of the AHRC to enforce, promote, educate and support individuals and stakeholders to understand and meet any new obligations regarding genetic testing in life insurance.

The consultation said that the report had noted that the AHRC had extensive experience in addressing, resolving, and seeking to prevent significant claims of discrimination in relation to insurance.

Where appointing ASIC is concerned, it suggested that as part of its regulation of life insurers, ASIC could be given responsibility for enforcing any new obligations regarding genetic testing in life insurance.

“ASIC has extensive experience regulating the conduct of life insurers, and a high level of familiarity with their operations,” it said. “Under this approach, consumers would have the option of making a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).”

The consultation paper discusses three options including no Government intervention under which no action would be taken by the Government and that, instead, the use of genetic testing by life insurers would continue to be governed by both the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Life Insurance Code of Practice.

The other two options canvassed involve a legislating either a total or partial prohibition on the use of adverse genetic testing results by life insurers, or legislating a financial limited below which insurers cold not request or utilise adverse genetic testing results in their underwriting.

The Treasury has listed 31 January, next year, as the closing date for submissions.

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Managing Editor/Publisher, Financial Newswire

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3 months ago

This sounds wonderful. Let’s give life insurance companies another reason to decline applications or impose adverse terms. What could possibly go wrong?