Independent Examines U.K. Insurers' Practices Regarding MSM, Risk of HIV
April 22, 2008
London's Independent on Saturday examined the practices of some insurance companies in the United Kingdom regarding men who have sex with men who are applying for policies for life insurance or major illnesses. According to the Independent, the Association of British Insurers in 2005 adopted guidelines on what questions insurers can ask applicants to assess their risk of HIV/AIDS and other health issues. However, a report by Compass, an independent financial adviser to MSM, found that insurers are still discriminating against MSM who apply for insurance.
Russ Whitworth, director of claims and underwriting at Legal & General, said the company does not discriminate against MSM, adding that it does not take sexuality into account. Whitworth says the company asks all applicants who apply for high coverage amounts -- defined as more than 300,000 British pounds, or about $600,000, for single men and more than one million pounds, or about $2 million, for married men, men in civil partnerships and women -- to receive an HIV test.
Robert Edwards of Bright Grey said it is "against industry standards to even ask someone if they are gay as part of a protection application." Grey said that single men, regardless of sexuality, are asked to receive an HIV test because statistically, single men "are more likely to be at risk of HIV/AIDS." Aegon Scottish Equitable said that although it adheres to the ABI guidelines, the company is "disappointed" by the findings of the Compass report. Aegon added it "will be providing additional training" to staff to ensure they "are familiar with [the company's] HIV testing limits and underwriting philosophy" and to ensure MSM are not discriminated against (Hughes, Independent, 4/19).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.