Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Underwriting


BACKGROUND: Since the late 1980s, genetic discrimination has remained one of the major concerns associated with genetic research and clinical genetics. Europe has adopted a plethora of laws and policies, both at the regional and national levels, to prevent insurers from having access to genetic information for underwriting. Legislators from the United States and the United Kingdom have also felt compelled to adopt protective measures specifically addressing genetics and insurance. But does the available evidence really confirm the popular apprehension about genetic discrimination and the subsequent genetic exceptionalism? METHODS: This paper presents the results of a systematic, critical review of over 20 years of genetic discrimination studies in the context of life insurance. RESULTS: The available data clearly document the existence of individual cases of genetic discrimination. The significance of this initial finding is, however, greatly diminished by four observations. First, the methodology used in most of the studies is not sufficiently robust to clearly establish either the prevalence or the impact of discriminatory practices. Second, the current body of evidence was mostly developed around a small number of ‘classic’ genetic conditions. Third, the heterogeneity and small scope of most of the studies prevents formal statistical analysis of the aggregate results. Fourth, the small number of reported genetic discrimination cases in some studies could indicate that these incidents took place due to occasional errors, rather than the voluntary or planned choice, of the insurers. CONCLUSION: Important methodological limitations and inconsistencies among the studies considered make it extremely difficult, at the moment, to justify policy action taken on the basis of evidence alone. Nonetheless, other empirical and theoretical factors have emerged (for example, the prevalence and impact of the fear of genetic discrimination among patients and research participants, the importance of genetic information for the commercial viability of the private life insurance industry, and the need to develop more equitable schemes of access to life insurance) that should be considered along with the available evidence of genetic discrimination for a more holistic view of the debate.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, United Kingdom, Discrimination, Insurance, Redlining, Underwriting


External regulation is an important mechanism to improve corporate behavior in emerging markets. China’s insurance governance regulation, which began to supervise and guide insurance corporate governance behavior in 2006, has experienced a complex process of reform. This study tested our hypotheses with a sample of 85 firms during 2010-2011, which was obtained by providing a questionnaire to all of China’s shareholding insurance companies. The empirical study results generally show that China’s insurance governance effectiveness has significantly improved through strict regulation. Insurance corporate governance can improve business acumen and risk-control ability, but no significant evidence was found to prove its influence on profitability, as a result of focusing less attention on governance than on management. State ownership is associated with higher corporate governance effectiveness than non-state ownership. Listed companies tend to outperform non-listed firms, and life insurance corporate governance is more effective than that of property insurers. This study not only contributes to the comprehensive understanding of corporate governance effectiveness but also to the literature by highlighting the effect of corporate governance regulation in China’s insurance industry and other emerging economies of the financial sector.

Concepts: Economics, Investment, Insurance, Business, Real estate, Corporate governance, Underwriting, Financial services


Treatment of chronic illness accounts for over 90 % of Medicare spending. Chronic lymphedema places over 3 million Americans at risk of recurrent cellulitis. Health insurers and legislators have taken an active role in fighting attempts to mandate the treatment of lymphedema for fear that provision of the physical therapy and compression materials would result in large and uncontrollable claim costs. The author knows of no open source of lymphedema treatment cost data based on population coverage or claims. Published studies compare cost of treatment versus cost of non-treatment for a select group of lymphedema patients. They do not provide the data necessary for insurance underwriters' estimations of expected claim costs for a larger general population with a range of severities, or for legislators' evaluations of the costs of proposed mandates to cover treatment of lymphedema according to current medical standards. These data are of interest to providers, advocates and legislators in Canada, Australia and England as well as the U.S.The Commonwealth of Virginia has had a lymphedema treatment mandate since 2004. Reported data for 2004-2013, representing 80 % of the Virginia healthcare insurance market, contains claims and utilization data and claims-based estimates of the premium impact of its lymphedema mandate. The average actual annual lymphedema claim cost was $1.59 per individual contract and $3.24 per group contract for the years reported, representing 0.053 and 0.089 % of average total claims. The estimated premium impact ranged 0.00-0.64 % of total average premium for all mandated coverage contracts. In this study actual costs are compared with pre-mandate state mandate commission estimates for proposed lymphedema mandates from Virginia, Massachusetts and California.Ten years of insurance experience with a lymphedema treatment mandate in Virginia shows that costs of lymphedema treatment are an insignificant part of insured healthcare costs, and that treatment of lymphedema may reduce costs of office visits and hospitalizations due to lymphedema and lymphedema-related cellulitis. Estimates based on more limited data overestimate these costs. Lymphedema treatment is a potent tool for reduction in healthcare costs while improving the quality of care for cancer survivors and others suffering with this chronic progressive condition.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health insurance, Estimation, Insurance, Lymphedema, Virginia, Underwriting


The impact of kidney donation on the ability to change or initiate health or life insurance following donation is unknown. To quantify this risk, we surveyed 1046 individuals who donated a kidney at our center between 1970 and 2011. Participants were asked whether they changed or initiated health or life insurance after donation, and if they had any difficulty doing so. Among 395 donors who changed or initiated health insurance after donation, 27 (7%) reported difficulty; among those who reported difficulty, 15 were denied altogether, 12 were charged a higher premium and 8 were told they had a preexisting condition because they were kidney donors. Among 186 donors who changed or initiated life insurance after donation, 46 (25%) reported difficulty; among those who reported difficulty, 23 were denied altogether, 27 were charged a higher premium and 17 were told they had a preexisting condition because they were kidney donors. In this single-center study, a high proportion of kidney donors reported difficulty changing or initiating insurance, particularly life insurance. These practices by insurers create unnecessary burden and stress for those choosing to donate and could negatively impact the likelihood of live kidney donation among those considering donation.

Concepts: Health insurance, Initiation, Change, Insurance, Donation, Underwriting


Is there a “killing zone” (Craig, 2001)-a range of pilot flight time over which general aviation (GA) pilots are at greatest risk? More broadly, can we predict accident rates, given a pilot’s total flight hours (TFH)? These questions interest pilots, aviation policy makers, insurance underwriters, and researchers alike. Most GA research studies implicitly assume that accident rates are linearly related to TFH, but that relation may actually be multiply nonlinear. This work explores the ability of serial nonlinear modeling functions to predict GA accident rates from noisy rate data binned by TFH.

Concepts: Time, Rates, Policy, Insurance, Reaction rate, Nonlinear system, Aviator, Underwriting


Nearly everyone with a supplementary insurance (SI) in the Netherlands takes out the voluntary SI and the mandatory basic insurance (BI) from the same health insurer. Previous studies show that many high-risks perceive SI as a switching cost for BI. Because consumers' current insurer provides them with a guaranteed renewability, SI is a switching cost if insurers apply selective underwriting to new applicants. Several changes in the Dutch health insurance market increased insurers' incentives to counteract adverse selection for SI. Tools to do so are not only selective underwriting, but also risk rating and product differentiation. If all insurers use the latter tools without selective underwriting, SI is not a switching cost for BI. We investigated to what extent insurers used these tools in the periods 2006-2009 and 2014-2015. Only a few insurers applied selective underwriting: in 2015, 86% of insurers used open enrolment for all their SI products, and the other 14% did use open enrolment for their most common SI products. As measured by our indicators, the proportion of insurers applying risk rating or product differentiation did not increase in the periods considered. Due to the fear of reputation loss insurers may have used ‘less visible’ tools to counteract adverse selection that are indirect forms of risk rating and product differentiation and do not result in switching costs. So, although many high-risks perceive SI as a switching cost, most insurers apply open enrolment for SI. By providing information to high-risks about their switching opportunities, the government could increase consumer choice and thereby insurers' incentives to invest in high-quality care for high-risks.

Concepts: Actuarial science, Economics, Investment, Insurance, Disability insurance, Deductible, Moral hazard, Underwriting


A key feature of private long-term care insurance is that medical underwriters screen out would-be buyers who have health conditions that portend near-term physical or cognitive disability. We applied common underwriting criteria based on data from two long-term care insurers to a nationally representative sample of individuals in the target age range (50-71 years) for long-term care insurance. The screening criteria put upper bounds on the current proportion of Americans who could gain coverage in the individual market without changes to medical underwriting practice. Specifically, our simulations show that in the target age range, approximately 30 percent of those whose wealth meets minimum industry standards for suitability for long-term care insurance would have their application for such insurance rejected at the underwriting stage. Among the general population-without considering financial suitability-we estimated that 40 percent would have their applications rejected. The predicted rejection rates are substantially higher than the rejection rates of about 20-25 percent of applicants in the actual market. In evaluating reforms for long-term care financing and their potential to increase private insurance rates, as well as to reduce financial pressure on public safety-net programs, policy makers need to consider the role of underwriting in the market for long-term care insurance.

Concepts: Actuarial science, Economics, Insurance, Finance, Underwriting, Long term care insurance, Life insurance, Medical underwriting


Kidney disease is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in dogs. Knowledge about the epidemiology of kidney disease in the dog population is valuable and large-scale epidemiological studies are needed. The aim of the present study was to use insurance data to estimate kidney-related morbidity and mortality in the Swedish dog population. Insurance company data from insured dogs during the years 1995-2006 were studied retrospectively. Incidence and mortality were calculated for the whole group of dogs as well as divided by sex and breed. The total number of veterinary care insured dogs was 665,245. The total incidence of kidney disease in this group of dogs was 15.8 (15.3-16.2) cases/10,000 dog-years at risk. The number of dogs in the life insurance was 548,346 and in this group the total kidney-related mortality was 9.7 (9.3-10.2) deaths/10,000 dog-years at risk. The three breeds with the highest incidence of kidney disease were the Bernese mountain dog, miniature schnauzer and boxer. The three breeds with the highest mortality caused by kidney disease were the Bernese mountain dog, Shetland sheepdog and flat-coated retriever. In conclusion, the epidemiological information provided in this study concerning kidney disease in dogs can provide valuable information for future research.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Demography, Actuarial science, Insurance, Dog breed, Dog breeds, Underwriting, Malignant histiocytosis


In present-day life-insurance medical underwriting practice the risk assessment starts with a standard health declaration (SHD). Indication for additional medical screening depends predominantly on age and amount of insured capital. From a medical perspective it is questionable whether there is an association between the level of insured capital and medical risk in terms of mortality. The aim of the study is to examine the prognostic value of parameters from the health declaration and application form on extra mortality based on results from additional medical testing.

Concepts: Risk, Actuarial science, Value added, Risk management, Investment, Insurance, Underwriting, Life insurance


Uncertainty is the central element in insurance. This article examines how insurers evaluate and price risks that can present very high levels of uncertainty, and which many underwriters regard as especially hazardous in insurance terms. These are the risks associated with new medical devices, new pharmaceutical products and others substances for human consumption, such as food additives. Insurance is likely to be needed for these products both during their research and development phases, including insurance for clinical trials, and also once the device, drug or other substance gains approval and is in regular use.The article examines the types of insurance that are available to cover these risks, the organizations that provide insurance and how the insurance is organised. It discusses the basic principles that insurers use to price insurance before considering the difficulties presented by novel and complex risks generally. The article concludes with a description of the techniques that insurers employ to analyse and price the particular risks that are our subject and a discussion of how underwriters seek to overcome the special problems associated with them.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Risk, Actuarial science, Risk management, Insurance, Moral hazard, Hedge, Underwriting