The list of questions and answers (Q&A) below is for reference only. Customers with doubts or questions should speak with their insurer or licensed insurance intermediary (agent/broker) for clarification on their insurance application. Customers with concerns regarding their genetic test results should contact their doctor for clarification. The Q&A is not intended to be comprehensive and should be read in conjunction with the Best Practice on the Use of Genetic Test Results (“Best Practice”).

Q1. What is a genetic test? What is the difference between a predictive and diagnostic genetic test?

There are several kinds of genetic tests – diagnostic genetic test, predictive genetic test, carrier test, pharmacogenetics test, and prenatal tests are the most common ones. In general, genetic testing analyses human DNA or chromosomes to detect variations in the genetic material. The results of a genetic test can help predict or confirm a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder.

A diagnostic genetic test is used to confirm a specific genetic or chromosomal condition in a patient with symptoms. A positive test result means the faulty gene or chromosomal abnormality causing the condition has been found. A negative test result means a faulty gene or chromosomal abnormality has not been found and the suspected condition can likely be ruled out.

A predictive genetic test indicates the possibility or relative risk of developing a disease based on a genetic variation.

Q2. I have undergone a genetic test. Do I have to tell the insurance company the results when I apply for insurance?

Depending on the type of insurance and the level of cover, you may not need to disclose the results of a predictive genetic test result. However, if your doctor has asked you to undergo a diagnostic genetic test, you need to disclose this information, failure to do so may have an impact on the assessment decision at claims stage. Insurance companies would not ask for the results of a genetic test of any kind conducted for research purpose.

Insurance companies may also take into account negative test results that are favourable to your application.

If you are in doubt, please speak with your insurer/agent/broker for further assistance or clarification.

Q3. I have seen DNA test kits available at chain store or online shop. If I do this kind of direct to customer tests, do I have to inform my insurance company? Or do only those conducted by hospital or doctors need to be disclosed?

Direct to customer (DTC) genetic tests are not for diagnostic purposes. They are predictive in nature, and the validity of such tests vary to a large extent. The Government advises members of the public to consult medical practitioners before taking any genetic tests. For the purpose of this Best Practice, we do not consider it necessary to differentiate DTC genetic tests from other predictive genetic tests.

For information, the Department of Health has published the educational leaflet on DTC Genetic Testing. The online version could be found below.

DTC genetic test kits contain a wide range of tests. Most of these will be predictive tests but they will usually include a certain extent of diagnostic tests. If in doubt, you should disclose the test results to your insurance company.

Q4. Will an insurance company ask me to undergo a genetic test for the purpose of assessing an insurance application?

Member Companies of HKFI will not ask potential applicants to undergo any kind of genetic tests for the purpose of assessing an insurance application, regardless of level of cover, or insurance type.

Q5. I have a life insurance policy that I purchased 5 years ago and I have just undergone a genetic test for inherited heart disease as advised by my doctor. Do I have to disclose this fact to my insurance company?

Policyholders or insured persons do not have to inform the insurance company of medical results including genetic testing conducted after a life insurance policy has been issued.

Q6. Do I have to tell the insurance company about my genetic test results even when the face amount I applied for is very small?

As mentioned in Q2, you should always disclose diagnostic genetic test results and under certain circumstances (which the insurer will explain in detail) you will also need to disclose your predictive test results.

Q7. Do I have to tell the insurance company the result of genetic test of my immediate family members or relatives?

Genetic test results of a relative or family member of a proposed or an existing insured person will not be taken into consideration in the decision of an insurance offer. However, you need to tell the insurance company your family medical history if it is asked in the application form.

Q8. I have a critical illness policy with premium loaded up due to my family history. My doctor told me that the genetic test I have taken shows that I do not have the disease that runs in my family. Can I use that genetic test result to appeal for removal of the loaded premium?

You may discuss it with the insurance company. Depending on the product nature and company practice, some insurance companies may take into consideration negative genetic test results when reviewing cases with loaded premiums or exclusions.

Q9. If I am found to have hidden my genetic test results, will it affect the validity of my claims?

The HKFI Best Practice on the Use of Genetic Test Results states that non-disclosure is deemed material (i.e. impacting the validity of a claim) if the withheld information would have altered the underwriting decision at the application stage.

If you have not told the insurer about a genetic test result that would have altered the underwriting decision then the validity of a claim may be affected.

Q10. Is it considered secure to pass my genetic test information to the insurance company?

Your personal information is protected under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, this includes your genetic test results. The insurance company/healthcare/genetic test provider will not forward your personal information to any third party without your prior consent.

Updated on 14.5.2020