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ABI draws up guidelines to update HIV statement

The ABI&#39s updated code of practice for HIV and insurance is beginning to take shape with its first consultation document published this week.

Last updated in 1997, the statement covers the treatment of applications for life and protection insurance where HIV can be an issue. The ABI has consulted with the insurance industry and groups such as the Terrence Higgins Trust and Pink finance.com and is now looking to extend that.

The proposed update includes standard questions for industrywide use in assessing risk levels and supplementary questions to help establish higher or lower-risk levels in specific cases, such as gay men. Assumptions such as using a person&#39s occupation as an indication of their sexuality would be outlawed.

Other proposals include ensuring confidentiality between insurers and applicants, preventing life offices from asking GPs to speculate on risk of infection or non-clinical issues.

One suggestion in the document is that all applicants should be questioned on whether they practice safe sex, to prevent the gay community feeling singled out and to account for the large numbers of heterosexuals also at risk in absolute terms.

ABI head of health Richard Walsh says: “It is important in our view that all customers should feel that they are being treated with respect and that their premiums should fairly reflect the relative risk they bring to the insurance pool.”

Pinkfinance.com editor Chris Morgan says: “These proposed best practice guidelines demonstrate a new level of respect towards gay men from the ABI. The real test of respect towards the gay community will be the attitude of the life insurance companies in the coming weeks as the document passes through consultation.”

Bright Grey product director Roger Edwards says: “The protection industry generally has a poor perception among consumers. Any initiative that helps to repair that perception has to be a good thing.”

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