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Review of Insurance and the Human Rights

Human Rights Commission
Media Advisory
20 October 2006

Review of the Guidelines on Insurance and the Human Rights Act 1993

The Commission is undertaking a review of its Guidelines on Insurance and the Human Rights Act 1993 (HRA).

In 1997 the Commission published guidelines to help insurers and consumers understand their rights and meet their responsibilities under the Act.

Since then, a number of issues with significant implications for the insurance industry have emerged. These include landmark legal cases in Canada and Australia, rapid advances in genetics and an unprecedented increase in mental illness.

Given these developments, it is timely to review the guidelines to make sure they continue to meet the needs of insurers and those who buy their products.

A discussion paper has been developed which identifies some of the key issues including:

* the difference between lawful and unlawful discrimination
* what is meant by reasonable statistical or actuarial data, advice or opinion
* what medical advice or opinion justifies different terms and conditions for insurance products
* when exclusions or pre-existing conditions amount to refusal to insure
* insuring mental disability
* options for addressing potential genetic discrimination.

A full or summary version of the discussion document can be downloaded by visiting the Commission website www.hrc.co.nz.

A hard copy of the full or summary discussion paper is available from the Commission, phone 0800 496 877 or email vickih[at]hrc.co.nz

The Commission invites comments or suggestions on the discussion paper by:
* Email to sylviab[at]hrc.co.nz
* Writing to the Human Rights Commission, PO Box 6751, Wellesley Street, Auckland
* Freephone 0800 496 877
* TTY (teletypewriter) 0800 150 111
* Fax (09) 377 3593
* Attendance at public meetings (dates and venues to be confirmed).

Comments must be received by 11 December 2006.

Following this consultation period, the Commission will update the insurance guidelines. The revised guidelines will reflect the Commission’s view on how the HRA should be interpreted and applied in practice, and will assist insurers and consumers to better understand their rights and responsibilities under the HRA.


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