New British Insurance Association Guidelines Say Questions About Sexuality Cannot Be Asked To Determine HIV Risk
British life insurance agents cannot ask male applicants questions about their sexual practices in order to determine HIV risk, according to new guidelines from the Association of British Insurers that went into effect on Saturday, the Financial Times reports (Cumbo, Financial Times, 9/30). About 400 companies are mebers of ABI and, between them, provide 94% of domestic insurance services sold in the United Kingdom (ABI Web site, 10/3). Some life insurers had asked male applicants to disclose if they have sex with other men so that they could be tested for HIV, and gay rights advocates in the country have been calling for an end to the practice. The new guidelines prevent insurers from asking general practitioners about patients' sexuality and engaging in "speculative underwriting" -- when HIV risk is linked to certain occupations, according to the Financial Times. ABI last year also changed its statement of best practice for HIV to say that all people applying for insurance should be asked questions pertaining to HIV exposure and testing in the last five years. Some gay rights advocates welcomed ABI's new guidelines but added that it might still be more difficult for single men to get life insurance. Under the guidelines, HIV tests are required on policies worth more than approximately $1.75 million for women and married men, while tests are required on policies of more than about $440,000 for single men. ABI spokesperson Jonathan French said, "The guidance makes it very clear that companies cannot discriminate against people on the basis of their sexuality" (Financial Times, 9/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.