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New guidelines for insurers and consumers released

New guidelines for insurers and consumers released

The Human Rights Commission released its revised guidelines on insurance and the Human Rights Act today.

The Human Rights Act 1993 seeks to balance the right of people not to be unfairly treated when purchasing insurance with the insurance industry’s right to charge premiums relevant to risk.

The latest guidelines follow an initial series published in 1997. Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said, “It became clear that the earlier guidelines needed to be updated. There has been an increase in the reporting of mental illness, developments in the area of human genetics screening and much experience of the practical application of the legislation since then.”

The Commission consulted widely when developing the guidelines and they reflect a process which involved collaboration with representatives of consumer groups, individuals and the insurance industry.

“The Commission has carried out a thorough review which has involved vigorous debate on a number of the key issues,” Ms Noonan said.

However, not all of the issues raised during the consultation process can be dealt with by the guidelines. An active and continuing relationship with the industry as well as further work by the Commission will be essential.

Ms Noonan was pleased to note a proposal from the insurance industry to establish a consultative group made up of consumers, the industry and the Commission to address human rights issues in insurance as they arise.

Along with the revised guidelines, Ms Noonan said she hoped that all parties would approach insurance and human rights issues with greater clarity and understanding.

“The end result of the review is that the guidelines rigorously reflect the requirements of the Human Rights Act. They will be central to ensuring that nobody in New Zealand is unlawfully denied insurance.”

Work on establishing the consultative group will begin next year.

For a pdf copy of the revised guidelines, please click here

ENDS

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