Hong Kong Federation of Insurers issues best practice on use of genetic test results

| 19 May 2020

The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers (HKFI) has issued the Best Practice on the Use of Genetic Test Results (Best Practice).

It issued the revised version of Code of Practice on Genetic Testing (Code) in 2005 to raise awareness among Member Insurers on genetic testing and lay down some principles on the handling of related information.

In view of the advancement in DNA technology, in 2017, the Life Insurance Council (LIC) under HKFI has taken the initiative to review the Code and replace it with a new Best Practice.

During the review process, it has come to HKFI’s attention in 2018 that the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) would be launching the Hong Kong Genome Project (HKGP) which might have an impact on insurance practices. Actions have therefore been taken to further review the Best Practice to provide suitable facilitation to the HKGP.

After consulting Member Insurers and engaging key stakeholders including the FHB and the Steering Committee on Genomic Medicine, expert clinical geneticists, Insurance Authority, Equal Opportunities Commission and Office of the Privacy Commissioner, we have designed the Best Practice with the following key principles:

Member Insurers of HKFI:

  • will continue to not require applicants to undertake genetic testing for underwriting purposes;
  • will not ask for results of (diagnostic or predictive) genetic tests which were performed in the context of scientific research, including that of HKGP; and
  • may ask for certain predictive genetic test results only when the applicant applies for Life Insurance or Critical Illness / Dread Disease policies over defined protection limits, i.e., HKD$5M and HKD$1M respectively. For medical indemnity insurance, no predictive genetic test results will be asked regardless of the sum insured.

Mr Mike Lee, Chairman of Life Operations & Risk Management Working Group, said: “The HKFI fully embraces medical and technological advancement and acknowledges the positive impact brought by genomic medicine.

“Against this background and for the good of Hong Kong, the Best Practice sets out to establish an appropriate balance between the symmetry of access to information whilst ensuring that the vast majority of the insuring public, i.e., over 95%, would not be affected.”

Read also: 6X sales conversion rate through genetic testing with Genoplan

The Best Practice shall take effect from 1 June 2020.

Going forward, the HKFI will:

  • enhance transparency and clarity by launching a dedicated mini-website (www.hkfi.org.hk/genetictest/en/);
  • provide public education on insurance practices relating to genetic testing; and
  • continue engaging various stakeholders to update the Best Practice as and when appropriate.


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