A.M. Best: The Time Is Now for Genomics in Life Insurance

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http://news.ambest.com/articlecontent.aspx?refnum=281123&altsrc=43

Research firm A.M. Best’s monthly magazine uses GWGH’s YouSurance brand as an example of how genomics is rapidly approaching acceptance by life insurers as a way to determine health, wellness and lifespan.

Jon Sabes GWG
Jon Sabes

“The life industry finds itself at an inflection point as insurers come under growing pressure to position themselves to embrace genomics and genetic testing as advances come rapidly,” reporter Jeff Roberts writes.

Roberts interviewed GWGH CEO Jon Sabes about his experience in licensing epigenetic technology and building the YouSurance brand to sell life insurance to consumers. Sabes told his personal story about a colon scare that could have been predicted by epigenetic testing.

“If I’m a life insurer, I would want my client to know, and I would encourage them to have regular colonoscopies,” said Sabes, 52, whose digital MGA uses saliva-based epigenetic exams to assess applicants’ health and life expectancies. “When caught early, it’s the most treatable cancer out there. But if you don’t, it will kill you.

“It’s an example where if carriers were open-minded enough to embrace this type of testing, there’s a lot to be gained. When that will happen? I don’t know. And what it will take? I don’t know.”

Roberts wrote about companies who are looking into this technology including the Reinsurance Group of America (RGA) that produced a video last year about applying the technology to underwriting life insurance. Sabes told him that epigenetic testing eventually will be more precise than traditional underwriting tools and far less invasive than paramedical exams that often discourage first-time insurance buyers.

Other companies, such as Helix and Sequencing.com, help consumers obtain DNA testing to predict health outcomes, analyze the results and store their genomic data. And dozens of smartphone apps generate disease predictions from direct-to-consumer test data.

“Frankly the time came and went,” for insurers to embrace genomics, said Sabes, who is also CEO of YouSurance’s sister company, Life Epigenetics, a science and testing firm. “The question becomes: When—and if—does that happen? If incumbents don’t do it, then we shall do it.”

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