DNA Testing Might Affect Your Ability to Get Life Insurance

Genealogy and genetics have become entwined. A direct-to-consumer DNA test kit is among the most popular holiday gifts to give or receive. These tests often show you information about your heritage, and many can also provide you with some personalized health information. It turns out that some life insurance companies are looking at potential customer’s DNA test results – and using it as a basis to turn them down.

CBS Philly reported that Carolyn Koutsafits, who is 46 years old and healthy, was denied life insurance coverage. She believes that the reason for the denial was because she sat down with a genetic counselor after learning that her mother had tested positive for the breast cancer gene.

CBS SF Bay Area reported that Amy Jones took a DNA test and discovered that her family was Irish. CBS reported that the DNA data file that is created to determine user ethnicities also contains the key to decode genetic health risks.

California’s Department of Insurance said that there is a California law that prevents health insurance companies from using or considering genetic test results when selling a policy. However, there isn’t a law that would prevent life insurance companies from asking for, and seeing, a person’s DNA test results. Life insurance companies are allowed to use those results to deny coverage.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones points out that a life insurance company could ask you to download or hand over the raw data from your DNA test. That data could be decoded to reveal genetic health risks ranging from cancer to obesity to alcoholism. Anything in the results could be used to deny a person life insurance coverage.

What can consumers do about this? If you have not yet taken a direct-to-consumer DNA test, you have the opportunity to choose not to ever take one. Data that doesn’t exist cannot be used against you.

What if you’ve already taken a DNA test? Keep in mind that life insurance companies legally can ask you to provide them with your DNA test results. If you are asked about it – tell the truth. If you get caught in a lie later, that lie could be used by a life insurance company to cancel your policy.

If you have concerns, you might want to contact the company that you sent a DNA sample to. Ask them to destroy your data. Consumer Watchdog says that if you’ve opted-in to sharing your DNA data with medical researchers, it might no longer be possible to destroy your information.

Related Articles at FamilyTree.com:

* Ancestry Lets Customers Opt-Out of DNA Matches

* Things to Consider Before Taking a DNA Test

* People Are More Influenced by Good News on DNA Tests Than Bad News

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