Genetic Discrimination and Beyond – A Proposal for Ethical Life Insurance

Public Deposited
Resource Type
  • The Canadian Genetic Non-discrimination Act prohibits service providers such as life insurance companies from using genetic test results in their risk assessment procedures. From a practical standpoint, however, this law does not change much for those seeking life insurance. The law does not change much for these individuals because it is reflective of what I call a 'genetic test exceptionalism' policy rather than the broader 'genetic exceptionalism' policy. What this means is that insurers are still free to request other sources of genetic information such as those from family history of genetic disease and the results of non-genetic tests that, nonetheless, reveal genetic information. These may similarly render genetically disadvantaged persons ineligible for insurance and/or increase their premiums, which are outcomes that the law is attempting to reduce. In this thesis, I critique both genetic exceptionalism and genetic test exceptionalism as ways to protect genetically disadvantaged persons and defend an alternative response to the problem of unjustified discrimination in life insurance. Without equating all genetic discrimination to "unjustified discrimination", I argue that every life insurance customer ought to be offered two options: (1) a substantive no-questions-asked guaranteed insurance; and (2) insurance based on full disclosure of information. When a person seeks insurance coverage above the no-questions-asked limit but below a maximum limit, the premium cost ought to be shared between the insured (who pays for what is controllable) and the state (who pays for what is based on "bad luck" and leads to disadvantage/expresses a negative message).

Thesis Degree Level
Thesis Degree Name
Thesis Degree Discipline
Rights Notes
  • Copyright © 2021 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2021


In Collection: