Potential for Genetic Discrimination in Access to Insurance: Is There a Dark Side to Increased Availability of Genetic Information?


  • Elizabeth Adjin-Tettey




This article addresses the reliance on genetic information as part of the private insurance industry’s practice of risk segmentation whereby underwriting
decisions are based on risk information about individuals and groups as compared to the general population. The author argues that there are a number of concerns regarding reliance on genetic information in insurance underwriting, including uncertainty about what constitutes genetic information and the predictive value thereof, possible conflicts with human rights values, potential reductions in access to insurance, and the legal and ethical obligations of individuals who undergo testing, health professionals, and insurers. This article reviews the solutions that have been adopted in other jurisdictions and concludes that the use of genetic information is consistent with standard insurance industry practices. However, it is recommended that a legislative framework be established in Canada to regulate the use of genetic information.

Author Biography

Elizabeth Adjin-Tettey

Professor Law, Universitiy of Victoria